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The Network Effect

April 19, 2017

Achieving success is not a formula. Being successful involves doing things, really difficult things. It is easy to do nothing and it is the basic premise of inertia; Newton’s First Law of Motion states that a body at rest will remain at rest unless an outside force acts on it. Human thought is something that is is a most vibrant force when in motion, but to get it into that state takes an action or an idea of herculean proportions.

Having observed the fact that its tough to achieve success, let me talk about something that doesn’t usually come up. Whenever people talk about other successful people, the grossly oversimplified conversation most typically, consists of :

  1. The person had a revolutionary ( or not so revolutionary ) idea

  2. Over a span of time, she/he slogged over the idea while being filled with self-doubt and failure

  3. Hit that magical spot of growth, which catapulted her/him into the successful person that they have become.

The part that is universally left out is something that I call ‘The Network Effect’; not to be confused with the term used in Economics. The Network Effect, in my definition, is the effect you benefit from by being in/around a successful network. It is what you gain (perhaps mutually) by being in contact with people who have achieved a heavy measure of success in their own venture. People who have achieved success didn’t benefit from The Network Effect serendipitously.

It is possible they grew up with people who were part of the Network already; examples of this are Evan Spiegel (Snapchat) , Donald Trump (no introductions needed) , Richard Branson and the list goes on. I don’t intend to imply that wealth necessarily played a part in their success story, but being exposed to a culture of high achievement and being placed in contact with people in highly influential positions, cannot be ignored as a part of this conversation.

Then there are people who enter the Network. These are people who pivot from what they are doing on a daily basis and get in contact with members of the Network. Examples include getting mentored at Y Combinator. While the jury maybe out on this one, there is no doubt that by inviting co-founders over to their site, Y Combinator creates a congenial atmosphere for the network effect to proliferate through to budding entrepreneurs. By participating in shows like Shark Tank and coming in contact with high-profile investors and showing the strength of their products, the arteries of the Network Effect spread. Some people debate the merits of MBA programs at schools like MIT/Columbia/Wharton but what is an unquestionable truth, in my opinion, are the benefits of the Network Effect. You are placed in contact with a plethora of alpha individuals powering on a dynamically different level, that it will tend to elevate the status of the basest individuals.

Being mentored by a strong individual with a powerful Network presence, is something that should sought after, regardless of title or age. It must be said that to become influential, you must have access to influencers. As Jim Rohn famously quoted, we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with, this means that the more ambitious and focused people you spend your time with on a regular basis, the more lofty and accented your goals become.