The Magical Power of Your Environment and Who You Surround Yourself With

There is a very common saying here in Silicon Valley: “You are the Average of 5 people you spend most time with.”

I was lucky to end up at Alibris.com, then Yahoo! & 500 Startups at very specific times in their growth. For me it was just like being at Microsoft in the 90s, or eBay 2000–2005, Google from 2003–2008, Or Facebook during 2008–2013. Magical times of growth when there was a critical mass of amazing people who worked there. It also helped that massive fortunes were made by people who worked there during that time. Getting equity really does matter :)

The existence of the Paypal Mafia & other Mafias (Facebook, Yahoo!, AirBnB, Uber etc) show the power of these tribes. Opportunities for new jobs, business partnerships and investment all come from these types of power networks. This is very similar to what happens with top University alumnus.

If you optimize for learning, the best way to do so is from being around other great people. I was listening to an excellent podcast interview between David Perell & Daniel Gross where this came up. The question was:

“Environment Matters and what are the 4 ways to build these great environments:

  1. Digital environment: Asymmetrically through books & podcasts
  2. Digital Community Groups: via Telegram group, Reddit groups etc
  3. Physically locating near a small group of people who have great mindset
  4. Move to city full of great people”

If you want to penetrate an industry go to the centre of the network. It’s why you join certain companies or move to certain cities. So if you are into Hedge funds or Investment Banking, it only makes sense to go to New York or London. If Media is your thing, Los Angeles, New York & London is the center of things. If you are in the Tech Industry, it’s Silicon Valley/San Francisco. But if Fashion is your thing, San Francisco is pretty awful, but New York, London, Paris or Milan are much better places for you.

It’s why I moved to San Francisco back in 1999. To meet, compete and collaborate with amazing & interesting people.

If you want to become better, be thoughtful about your environment and surround yourself with people smarter and better than you are. You always want to be the dumbest person in the room.

If you do this, your Network really does become your Net Worth!

Written by

Ever curious: Tsundoku, Reader, Aspiring Shokunin, World traveller, Investor & Tech/Media exec interested in almost everything! www.marvinliao.com

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