Sometimes, it feels like a single decision can impact your whole life for the better or worse.
For some people, that question is whether to go to college.
In today’s video, you’ll get a comprehensive answer to this question.
What do schools fail teach us about success? A LOT.
I used to think networking wasn’t important. That has changed completely as I have been studying the world’s most successful people. The billionaire Reid Hoffman (of LinkedIn) emphasizes the importance of developing a strong networking of high performers to the success of the companies he’s seen. Ariana Huffington built her brand through her extensive network.
A lot of people who have great jobs that I have reached out to have admitted that they got them through connections from their network.
Rather than use this as an excuse to complain and get mad at the world, you should use this to develop your network and your networking skills. I am below average in terms of social skills and making friends yet the best thing to do is to work on this rather than sit there blaming others for my lack of a network. It’s a skill that can be developed.
Being able to know someone who knows someone that is valuable and is willing to connect with you is wildly important.
The nail in the coffin that pushed me to really start learning and practicing this skill was hearing about Michael Ellsburg and his book, The Education of Millionaires.
This man started with no connections and was struggling to make money for years. Eventually, he learned to develop his network to a point of flying in private airplanes with billionaires like Sean Parker.
Education Should Not Hold You Back
Outliers is a book that had a story that was mentioned in Michael’s book, The Education of Millionaires. He mentions it warmly and I liked the book too. However, I have a different take on the story.t the man with highest IQ in the world, Chris Langan.
The story was about a man with highest IQ in the world, Chris Langan. He had a very tough childhood where his gifts were not valued and a college education that was cut short and blockaded because of people who apparently didn’t care about him. He had to go back home to care for his family and the education system stopped him from progressing. Based on the interviews I saw and the story, he seemed to have given up in his early twenties and held a consistent, bitter, grudge towards the world.
The point is that yes, I agree that education and lack of opportunities can hold us back. But a lack of education does not guarantee 100% failure in this economy if you are willing to persist and keep trying.
This man’s story seemed to be the one case study of proof as to the tragic consequences of a lack of resources and opportunities. I definitely think parts of that are true.
However, this book is one of many great resources that argues my point. The whole book is filled with dozens of college and high school drop-out’s that went on to become millionaires and billionaires. There are plenty more not listed in the book: Chris Gardner and Richard Branson.
Don’t let a lack of education hold you back in any way.
Help Others First With No Expectations. It Will Come Back To You
This one is key. This is one of the most enlightening insights I learned from Michael. He revealed how he managed to build such a network and it was all about helping others first in any way he can with zero thought of getting something.
The crazy part is that people eventually end up helping him back in some way. There’s a part of a psychological bias called the reciprocity bias at play here. But it’s just human nature it seems to help others that help you.
It will not happen overnight. In fact, it may not get returned for years. But don’t have any expectation with this. You don’t lose anything by helping others other than a little time. And you shouldn’t be expecting a return or they will smell it and it will just feel like you’re there for a sleazy ulterior motive, which will turn them off.
From my experience, often when you help others, you may not ever get anything in return. And that’s ok. (as long as you cut out the huge and obvious value leeches who keep coming back to just take) Some might help you in your distant future you have experienced yet and some just might know enough to help you back.
Most people don’t do this. They do opposite. 99% of people go to people more successful than them to get something from them. They are always taking value somehow. It can get annoying and no one wants to talk to people like that.
You can really stand out by helping others first.
People are more drawn to you and their guard will lower when you help out first.
A great article on this that was also recommended in the book is by David Garland, which you can find here.
Michael Ellsberg gives a great strategy in the book:
Introduce yourself. After a few sentences of small talk, ask at least 1 of these questions:
- What is the most exciting thing about your life and business right now?
- What is the most challenging thing about your life and business right now?
If it is a fun, life event, ask the question geared towards their business or career.
If it’s a career or business event, ask it geared towards life.
It’s a great way of setting yourself to see how you can help them.
Successful, Wealthy People Have Problems Too. Help Them.
A common question is “How could I possibly have anything to offer someone who is so much more successful than me?”
People more successful than you usually are humans too and have problems or issues in areas that you may have more knowledge or expertise in.
Here are the most common things:
- Relationship or dating issues
- A higher sense of purpose or fulfillment
Michael notes in his book that many wealthy people have bigger issues than most on these than average people. This is because they focused too much on their business that they sacrificed relationships and health. Or they can now focus on a higher sense of purpose since they have lots of money now and they hit an existential crisis when they realize money doesn’t make them happier.
Average people may have learned or improved on these things already.
This is a central theme and message of my blog: money, fame, and reputation alone will not make you happy or fulfilled. A truly successful person has achieved financial independence without sacrificing health or relationships. They have achieved success in all these areas.
You can give them advice on any of these things: health, fulfillment, a higher purpose, or relationships.
Additionally, you may have specific skills that you developed that you are just quite frankly better at than them. Just because someone is a billionaire doesn’t mean he’s an expert at everything. He or she may know about business but not necessary about the finer details of computer programming, finance, or direct response copywriting.
If you are good with a specific skill like this because it’s your occupation, you can use that to teach or help them.
The entrepreneur Neil Patel used his knowledge of the internet and online marketing to help a billionaire who wanted to learn more about it. Michael Ellsburg used his direct response copywriting skills to become friends and help a marketing expert who was making millions of dollars.
Don’t make this transactional in any way. Just seek to help out people without expectations.
Finally, another great way you can help others is by being a connector of people. Connectors have been a critical, foundational level of networker since the dawn of time. They are people who know everyone. There was an experiment done where they tried to get a letter across the entire country delivered person to person. They found that on the last route of the journey, all the letters that were sent out passed through the same 3 people because they were the connectors that knew everything.
Being a connector can really open up your social network. As Michael points out in his book, the bigger your network is, the better it gets since you know more people. It is a snowball effect.
You can start being a connector even if you don’t know any people or have too many skills or things to help others with. Why? Because it is as simple as letting one person know of the existence of another. Both of these people can benefit each other and all you are doing is introducing them, which anyone can do.
I’ve met a couple great connectors over my life and they know the simplicity and ease of it. And if the introduction goes well, these people will be ever grateful years down the line.
Michael Ellsburg demonstrated how he started being a connector without having many connections. He used what he had and ended up connecting a good female friend of his to a highly successful entrepreneur called Eben Pagen through an event he paid for. They eventually got married and he was able to get a lot of value from Eben.
He has done the same thing by giving his copywriting services to a well known marketer. He also went out of his way to advise and help him on his health when he wasn’t asked.
In the book, there are a few other examples of people who started with nothing and turned it into something. A man named Elliot created a meet-up of top entrepreneurs called the Summit Series that eventually grew into something with very high-profile billionaires attending.
In-Person Meetings With The Right People Are Worth More Than Longer Meetings With Less Ideal Folk
His point here is that it’s worth more to spend 2 minutes of time with a very successful person who is where you want to be rather than a less relevant but still successful person for more time, say 60 minutes.
I partially disagree. If it’s just to get information, nowadays with the internet, you can get a lot more of that information through their speeches and interviews than they would ever have time to in real life.
However, if you are there for more than just extracting information, such as forming an in-person relationship, it could sometimes be worth it.
For a beginner, it can be daunting to think of eventually growing out a network of thousands of highly successful people. Maybe we don’t have to go that far unless we’re naturally inclined to be good at it as our strength like Ariana Huffington.
However, it is definitely of use to grow your network and maintain those relationships. They can be of great use to you financially and for your entire life.
Some people will be rude to you when you try to introduce yourself in person. It’s okay. You should be proud you’ve tried and the worst that can happen is you smile and move on. Make sure you are looking to give value rather than take value. Seek win-win relationships.
Be strategic with which networking events you go to and who you reach out to. When you’re young and starting out, you don’t have anything so many you should say Yes to everything. However, it’s important to be strategic and smart with who and where so that you haven’t wasted a ton of time with people who can’t help you and you can’t help.
Don’t go to a networking event with random people in the fashion industry if you’re a programmer looking to develop your programming skills. Nonetheless, still have a little bit of looseness as you never know who might be able to help you. Yes, I’ve wasted a decent amount of time at bad networking events but it happens.
You don’t have to become a networking queen or king to succeed. Having a small but core group of great people could be useful and won’t drain your time and energy. It’s important to be efficient with your time too.
What’s a big decision that you’ve had trouble with? What helped you make the decision? Leave a comment and let’s have a conversation.
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