Largely attributed to John F. Kennedy is the aphorism that a rising tide lifts all boats. It has been plugged largely in the context of economics and politics – the macro – but it has significant, career-altering ramifications for the micro – our personal and professional lives.

We’ve heard similar expressions:

  • You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with – Jim Rohn

  • Your network is your net worth

  • …and countless others

The implication is the same – surround yourself with better people, you become a better person. The reverse is also true – no sooner than when you are surrounded with trash do you become a dumpster diver.

What does this mean for the high-performer?

While most high performers will acknowledge this to be true, the majority of us fail to take requisite action to capitalize on this fact. You and I are surrounded by great people, sure, but what action are you taking to:

  • expand your network of other high-performers?

  • provide value to your network in the form of consultation, introductions, and constructive criticism?

  • strengthen existing relationships?

We should be careful to distinguish this from comparing ourselves to others. Comparison is a slippery slope. At best, we are comparing our kindness to that of the sweetest person we know. At worst, we are looking at someone with a material possession we do not have and think that if we could just be a little more like said individual, we’d finally feel fulfilled.

No, we are not comparing ourselves to others per se, rather seeking to close the gap between who we are and who we have the potential to be. To do this, we are going to need some help – help in the form of others who have walked in shoes similar to ours.

The problem is how do we find and leverage them?

Two ways – networking and reading.


With the professional world’s new-found reliance on social media platforms, not only has networking never been easier, but there are more outlets through which to network than ever before. When networking, it is vital that you take a genuine interest in what each person you meet is up to. You must take this a step further and understand how you can provide value to them. Reciprocity is the first of six principles outlined in Dr. Robert Cialdini’s masterpiece Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, and for good reason.

Here are some of my favorite ways to network:

  1. Join private groups: Seek mastermind groups on Facebook, LinkedIn, and other platforms. Actively build relationships with the members.

  2. Join Meetup groups: Granted, it is substantially harder to network via Meetup during the pandemic, but the second that changes, you should be all over it. Don’t like the options in your area? Start a Meetup group. This helps build credibility, which can be leveraged in the future.

  3. Be active on LinkedIn and other social platforms: I absolutely love networking via LinkedIn. Whenever I find someone with an interesting title or profile, I unhesitatingly send them an invite. Why? Because I want to be connected with them! If they accept my invite (majority of people do, because they also want a larger network), I can then direct message them and work to schedule a call to explore synergies.

Beyond taking a genuine interest in what others do and understanding how you can provide value to them, it is also important that you are unafraid to approach (or reach out, virtually) to them. Whenever I feel this fear in person, I remind myself that this other person is there for the same reason I am, namely, to expand their network! Be first.


Yes, reading can actually provide some of the same (and different) benefits as networking. How? Because with reading comes the opportunity to step into someone else’s mind. The only difference between this and an actual conversation is that the dialogue is not exchanged between two parties.

Read The Sales Acceleration Formula by Mark Roberge, for example, and learn directly from Mark how he scaled Hubspot’s revenue from $0 to $100 million.

Read The Effective Executive by Peter Drucker, as another example, and understand how the best management philosopher of all time thinks of efficiency and productivity in the context of executive leadership.

Important to reading and all content consumption, however, is the quality of this content. You can ask your network what you should read. You can leverage book reviews and you can listen to podcasts in which the author is the guest.

Quality is important not only because you want to avoid outdated/incorrect information, but you want to maximize your return on intellectual investment. Reading, when done correctly, should consume a significant amount of time and energy.

Consume a large amount of quality content and reap the boat-lifting benefits that come with being intellectually jacked.

The Takeaway

Leveraging the knowledge, expertise, and accountability of others is the best way to improve our personal and professional lives. We can do this by networking and consuming quality content.

Networking is a two-way street – never get without giving, but give without the expectation of receiving. Consume content that is relevant – it should be by, or written about, someone who has walked an inspirational path.

These two disciplines – networking and reading – are small investments easily made today that will reap a lifetime not only of financial rewards, but of fulfillment.

Carson is the Co-Founder of Development AI, a platform for real estate developers, and Co-Founder of The Success Minded, a blog on finance, investing & living a meaningful life