They say you become the average of the five people you hang out with most. In that case, I'm in trouble because I spend most of my day with my youngest daughter, two dogs, a cat and a parrot. Maybe that explains why I'm constantly trying to scratch my ear and look something I buried somewhere. It also probably explains why I'm always wondering what that smell is.
The reality is, I believe it's all about the people you associate with, face to face or over media, that determine who and what you are growing into. My favorite saying has always been, "If you're the smartest person in your group, you need a new group."
I never liked the term networking, but there is no denying the value of having friends and acquaintances who not only have the same interest as you, but also have a higher understanding of the things you are getting into. I've learned more from my network of friends than any YouTube video or Google search could ever do for my business.
I don't want to be an expert in everything, but I like having knowledge in everything. This is a weakness for me in so many ways. My father told me this was a family trait. He always said, "If your grandpa could have just settled on one of his brilliant ideas, he would have been a millionaire." So I have many interests, but learned to create them around one business.
As my business grows, I find I'm drawn to people who have interests that relate to my business. It's not that I'm seeking them out or doing some clever trick to gain business relationships, but more of a magnet of common interests. It's helped me grow as a producer, musician and in many ways as a speaker. I know I could seek out people that might bring more value to my business in this way, but I like the natural growth of meeting on uncommon ground. Seeing the true person before I decide if I want to invite them into my network.
It's important to me not to dread calling a client or associate in my network. My business is my baby and who is in it can't kill the vibe. Maybe it seems foolish to some to be so personal about it, but it is in fact a personal brand. As it grows, I want to work with a group I can really enjoy being around.
I don't want a strict business structure as the vibe of my business. I want creative evolution in real time to be the vibe. I don't care if it limits parts of what I'm building. I want it to be a place anyone and everyone can enjoy going to work. I want everyone who works for me to be faster, smarter and more creative than I could ever imagine being. I'm not very humble all the time, so that is a high bar. If I ever get to the point where I can hire a big team, I want them to feel like family. Like a work family that is there to build something greater than ourselves.
Some will never understand what I'm building. I've created this big puzzle that is far from complete. It's missing pieces and I'm pretty sure a few of the pieces are bend and/or broken, but I believe in it more than I believe in any nine to five job. It's part of who and what I am.
As I meet more and more people, everyone is welcome as a friend, but for my personal circle, it really comes down to a few simple questions:
What value do they bring to my business and it's goals?
Do they believe in what I'm building? and
Are they smarter and better than me in whatever their thing is?
There are other things I look at, but those questions matter to me a lot to invite people into my business. I don't need people who I can personally replace. I need people to raise the bar who fit in my world.
I think people get way to relaxed on who they let into their circle. I never shut anyone out, but I'm also not going to sacrifice whats important to me just to spend time with people who wouldn't do the same in return. I think it really is important to not only ask what value you bring to a relationship, but also ask what value you gain in return. I have many passive friends that I enjoy running in to, but for growth, I really focus on the friends that help build my world to levels it hasn't seen yet.