“You’re the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with” - Jim Rohn
I’m a big believer of this saying because I know there’s a lot of truth to it. When I hang out with certain people for an extended amount of time, I’ll eventually start to adopt certain mannerisms, have like minded views… I even started adopting a Boston accent after hanging out with my now best buddy after just two weeks of meeting him. ( Mostly that was just me effin around, but you get what I’m saying )
It’s easy for me to see that this saying has merit. So… when I decided to go all in, quit my job, and run the entrepreneurship marathon for real… I knew I needed to surround myself with some other startup/entrepreneur type people.
Problem: I live in Destin, Florida. A beautiful beach city… but one where people usually go to relax or vacation.. or retire. Not where to grind. There are no meetups, there are no coworking spaces… not much of the startup or entrepreneurial vibe at all.
For all the startup shortcomings, it was a beautiful city to live in, and my wife was doing quite well in the hospital she was working for. So.. moving was out of the question.
If I was going to find people to associate with on a daily basis that would level me up… they weren’t going to be in Destin.
So here’s the rub. I was quite the social recluse back in the day. So hanging out with a lot of people, much less 5, wasn’t really a daily occurrence.
So there wasn’t really a chance of being averaged by the 5 people I associated with most.
But… I did happen to watch a lot of Television. Friends was my favorite. What’s interesting was after months of watching these shows pretty much daily… I started to act sort of silly. I noticed myself waving my hands and being super animated… kind of like Chandler. There were cadences in my speech, and sayings that I started to adopt straight from Ross. All of this really subconsciously.
Fast-forward to 2012. I really got into podcasts, specifically one called Freakonomics. Every morning before work I would listen to an entire episode. I cooked breakfast, got dressed, took the dog out… all the while listening to voices of Stephen J. Dubner and Steven Levitt jabber about interesting questions that few people ever think about…. like… the economics of sleep, why do people keep having children? And many many others.
I started to form a new way of thinking about the world... in terms of economics. Like... what is the cost benefit analysis of going to the gym? Or... What is the opportunity cost of deciding to learn the swift programming language instead of sticking with objective-c for building IOS apps?
It was a different and helpful way of thinking... and seamlessly adopted just by listening to hours of Dubner and Levitt discuss these economical matters in a fun and interesting way. Plus, the more I listened, the more it reinforced this new way of thinking.
I was being averaged up by these two podcast hosts... not through normal interaction... but virtually.
It's not the ideal way of association... but it works.
Importance of the Medium
I've noticed these types of seamless adoption of tactics or ways of thinking before when I've read books... but I've found the type of medium in which you "associate" with other people can make a big difference.
Books used to be my go to for learning, adopting new tactics, and averaging myself up with the authors of said books. But I found that the lessons learned rarely continued to be part of my repertoire after a few months.
I think many lessons had a hard time sticking because these books were consumed in a matter of days. After the book was finished, the daily repetition of the author pounding those lessons into my brain subside to nothing... leaving only me to make sure to actively work on incorporating them.
And then of course... life gets busy. So we don't take the time to pound these lessons into our head ourselves, and they never become truly incorporated. This is exactly the reason why people reread the same books, to get back to the daily repetition of pounding.
This is why I think podcasts, youtube videos, blog posts, and other forms of medium in which the content and lessons are continuously hammered by their creators, are my preferred channels through which I can average up through virtual association.
For the most part, I can consume these types of medium in a daily fashion for weeks and months on end. The daily repetition for an extended period of time vastly increases my ability to incorporate the lessons and tactics being taught by their creators.
And... the best part is... I can learn and "associate" with the very best... not just who is available to me proximity wise.
So... I choose to average up and associate with the likes of Tim Ferriss and Gary Vaynerchuck among others. ( Looking for 3 others whom I can learn and diversify myself with )
From Tim I learned a lot about efficiency, being effective, importance of automation, and tools and tactics for the solopreneur.
From Gary I've adopted the hustle mind set and the importance of attention.
These guys make me better every day. They average me up. And I haven't even met them.