Charles Good discusses the people you surround yourself with

Everyone wants a great life! But how often do individuals look at how their social networks and relations are negatively affecting them? This may seem disconcerting to some of you, especially those introverts who get anxiety when you think of networking functions and expanding your social network. Many of us are familiar with the following statement, “You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with,” a quote attributed most often to motivational speaker Jim Rohn. There is also the “show me your friends and I’ll show you your future” derivative. How really how much does it matter the people you surround yourself with? 

Jon Levy, best-selling author of You’re Invited, provides some interesting facts that strengthen this conclusion. One study he cites is that if you have an obese friend, your chance of obesity increases by 45%. Even if your friends don’t know this person, their chance of obesity increases by 20%. And their friends’ chances of obesity go up by 5%. He concludes that, on average, we influence others that goes three degrees out. We see similar trends in other areas as well, such as in divorce rates, smoking, etc. 

Your friends can have profound effects not only on your lifestyle choices but also on your attitudes and your habits. James Clear, best-selling author of Atomic Habits, states one of the best ways to build better habits is guess what? Connect with a community of people where your desired behavior is the normal behavior. 

But how do we build our networks and make connections with people we admire? Jon Levy identifies four qualities to cultivate that will increase our success in connecting with the people we admire.


Adam Grant, best-selling author of Think Again, states, “generosity isn’t sacrificing yourself–it’s helping others without harming yourself. You need to prioritize your needs along with theirs. Don’t confuse generosity with gifting. Levy states to focus on the type of generosity that gives people the opportunity to invest joint effort, feel included, and create connection.

  • How can I be generous or create a space for generosity?


According to Allen Gannett, author of The Creative Curve, would argue that things appeal to us when they are original enough that they are interesting, but also familiar enough that they are safe. If something is too familiar, it will be uninteresting. If it is too different, it becomes uncomfortable.

  • What novelty can I bring?


If you want to connect with people you admire, then you must curate experiences these individuals want to attend. Remember, the more influential someone is, the more demands they have on their time. A community curated with people who have the characteristics you admire would benefit everyone involved. Not only would you develop the skills and positive habits in the areas you care most about, but the other community members would benefit in the areas that matter to them. In the end, everyone is better off. 

  • What kind of curated experiences can I offer?


Do not expect it to happen often but when it does, it creates a perspective shifting, incredible experience. Be sure to creating spaces and opportunities for awe and surprise. People will always want to connect and engage with these types of experiences.

  • How can I trigger awe?

As Levy states, if you create an event or experience that has even one or two of these qualities, you have a hit. If you manage to create an experience that combines all of them, your chances of success in connecting with someone you admire go up exponentially. 

In 2006, researchers at Microsoft studied records of 30 billion electronic conversations among 180 million people in various countries and found that we are just six introductions away from any other person on the planet. So, take the time to connect with others and build your community support. It is easier than you think and more important than you may realize in determining your success.


Charles Good is the president of The Institute for Management Studies, which provides transformational learning experiences that drive behavioral change and develop exceptional leaders. Charles is an innovative and resourceful leader who specializes in bringing people together to develop creative organizational and talent strategies that enable business results. His areas of expertise include assessing organizational skill gaps and leading the design, creation and delivery of high impact, innovative learning solutions that achieve business goals.


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