If you don’t see new people you won’t see new things
-Anna Svahn, networking phenomenon, in my (Swedish) podcast “25 minuter” (link)
If you always see the same people, you’ll keep doing the same things, think the same thoughts, commit the same mistakes, miss important investment opportunities, and end up stagnant and disillusioned.
– Change your people, change your life.
I’ve written extensively before about the importance of perspective for both effectiveness and long term satisfaction, a.k.a. happiness (check out Perspective is gold, Long term satisfaction and Mentally challenged). Anna elaborates on a similar theme.
In my interview* with her, Anna explains how rewarding it can be to step out of your echo chamber, to be proven wrong and learn new things. Not least, she hits the nail on the head when recommending changing the five people you spend most of your time and energy on, lest your own situation and perspective will never change.
* it’s 34 minutes packed with insights about networking, efficiency, life rhythm, Tao, writing and much more. If you understand Swedish I strongly recommend you to listen to it on whatever podcast app you’re using, e.g., Soundcloud or iTunes #113.
The right people or the right place?
Successful people seem to repeatedly be right where they need to be at the right time. One explanation is that they know and regularly meet with the right people. Or is it the other way around; do they meet the right people because they are at the right place?
“Create the situation you want“, is Anna’s answer to that. Among other measures she has taken, in order to broaden her perspective and gain new insights, she started having breakfast with inspirational people every Friday; first one-on-one and later in somewhat larger settings. The breakfasts are invitation-only, the guests are a secret and all kinds of documentation and social media have been banned. The rules ensure a free flowing conversation about anything from boosting start-ups to discussing investments, crypto currencies, or the weather for that matter.
These breakfasts are as simple as they are ingenious. Start by asking a friend from Facebook or Linked in, or a colleague from a different department. Use the first breakfast to brainstorm who else you could ask. Expand from there. Before you know it you’ll have created a vibrant micro community of idea creation that can lead to if nothing else a healthy dose of brain activation and fun, but more likely also to great ideas about personal growth, investing and adventure.
Don’t trust chance – create your own
My own life and career consists of a long chain of serendipitous events and a confluence of somewhat unlikely factors. I was always more likely to end up like the meth cooking chemistry professor in Breaking Bad than heading the European hedge fund of the decade and later an appreciated blog and podcast, but luck and grit happened to take me on a different path. Anna Svahn, on the contrary, is exactly where she wants to be and she just turned 25 years old this summer (2017).
Svahn has deliberately created her own confluence of synergistic factors of people, environments, habits (though she calls it rhythms) and activities, whereas I blindly stumbled from one lucky break to the other owing most of my successes to pure grit and a slightly asocial personality (not being invited to the cool kids, not giving a damn, hiding in science and symbol manipulation).
Next, I’ll write an article on how my being a bullied loner and a nerd from out of town tied in with computers, programming, mathematics and being tired of school to put me in the perfect time and place for using the dotcom bubble to catapult my career. I was lucky to have the right skill set and lucky to have the right calibration regarding stock market valuations for my two decades as a finance professional.
I’ll also describe my development from a die hard “Discounted Cash Flows Are The Only Theoretically Correct Way To Value Companies” advocate, through “Technical Analysis Dabbler”, via “Earnings Reports Are All Important” evangelist and “Relative Growth Rates Rule” missionary and a few other of the ways any investor is bound to get lost. My view these days on DCF, TA, trend analysis etc. is too complicated to explain in anything less than a short book, but that’s coming sooner or later.
A blueprint for success – creating your own confluence of serendipitous factors
IT legend Roger McNamee (listen to the interview in Superinvestors #18) has provided a blueprint for how to create your own confluence of people, activities, environment and grit in any new and exciting sector. He toured for a year, if not more, with the people who were creating the new IT industry. That’s how he saw more clearly than anyone else what companies and what people would succeed, go under, get acquired, get funding, should get funding and so on.
His blueprint is exactly how I have tried saying you should cover developments in blockchain technology, quantum computing, robotics, electric engines, battery technology, AI and so on. That is, if you care about achieving a leading position in an exciting and future oriented field.
Applying the blueprint in practice
Start by reading the basics, then sell that knowledge to public and private organizations as a consultant. Keep learning more about the tech itself, as well as what your prospective clients want or need – both from your meetings with them and through external sources. Not least, keep talking to all and any industry representative you can get hold of. Call them, interview them, go to conferences, travel with them. NB: remember to provide value at all times; ask them what you can do for them. “What do you need? What do you lack? How can I help you?”. Keep notes in your commonplace of people, companies, sub industries, sector convergence and divergence etc.
In one year you’ll know more than any industry analyst or CEO about the key players, key technologies, key developments, most lucrative investment or employment opportunities. Contrast that with studying books and articles on the internet alone for a year, trying to understand the ever changing flows of a new industry without talking to the people shaping the development.
So, take a leaf from Anna Svahn’s and Roger McNamee’s books, and test drive all electrical cars you can, talk to e-car owners, talk to local politicians (about regulation), call e-car sub-suppliers and battery start-ups to gauge demand and technological developments, ask for or make your own calculations regarding Tesla’s cars (do the numbers add up regarding weight, power, range, charging times, manufacturing cost and so on).
Or, why don’t you buy a few toy robots, learn some Python and re-program them, talk to toy store purchase managers, visit robot manufacturers, try your alterations on your or your friends’ and their children. What works and what doesn’t? What are the manufacturers, innovators and stores missing?
Conclusion – listen to Anna Svahn and Roger McNamee and change your settings to change your life
- Listen to my interview (#113) with Anna here
- List the people you spend your time and energy on
- List who or what kind of people you’d like to see more of
- Change your daily habits in order to interact more with inspirational people and less with homeostasis dwellers
- stop eating lunch with the same colleagues at the same place
- change gym (or talk to new people about new things at your old gym)
- watch less TV or aimlessly surf the net, and schedule IRL (preferably non alcoholic) activities with inspirational and ambitious contacts you’d like to know better