Momentum Podcast: 38
The 5 People You Learn The Most From
by Alex Charfen
As entrepreneurs we have heard this expression so many times our mind finishes the sentence for us, “you become the average of the five… people you spend the most time around.”
This never sat well with me. I always knew there was something wrong with this statement. In principle it sounded good and I heard it from so many people so many different times, it seemed like it was just accepted fact.
Early in my career I had a chance to work with some of the most successful people in the world, and I can tell you that this statement simply isn't true. The billionaires that I worked with did not hang around with five equally as successful billionaires. In fact mathematically it would be impossible for one person to become riches in the world, because he wouldn't have had at least two people who were richer than him to bring up his average.
I thought about this for a long time, because it didn't feel like it was treated in this statement. Then it hit me one day…
We don't become the average of the five people we spend the most time around, we become the average of the five people we learn the most from.
Full Audio Transcript
I'm Alex Charfen and this is the Momentum Podcast, made for empire builders, game changers, world makers, shot takers and creators of all kinds. Those among us who can't turn it off, and don't know why anyone would want to. We challenge complacency. Destroy apathy. And we are obsessed with creating momentum, so we can roll over bureaucracy and make our greatest contribution.
Sure, we pay attention to their rules, but only so that we can bend them, break them, then rewrite them around our own will. We don't accept our destiny. We define it. We don't understand defeat because you only lose if you stop, and we don't know how. While the rest of the world strives for average and clings desperately to the status quo, we are the minority, the few who are willing to hallucinate there could be a better future, and instead of just daydreaming of what could be, we endure the vulnerability and exposure it takes to make it real. We are the evolutionary hunters. Clearly the most important people in the world, because entrepreneurs are the only source of consistent positive human evolution, and we always will be.
This is Episode 38, the five people you learn the most from. You know, we have all as entrepreneurs, as producers, as people who want to go out and get things done, and make things happen, we've all heard this phrase: we become the average of the five people that we spend the most time around. And when I was younger I heard that over and over again. I heard it in books, or I read it in books. I heard it from speakers on stage. I heard it in anecdotes where people would say watch your network because you become the average of the five people you spend the most time around. And it never set well with me.
In fact, that comment used to frustrate me because it just didn't make sense. I knew there was something wrong with it. I knew there was something missing. I knew that it just wasn't clear enough, because I didn't want to be limited by that, you know? It bothered me for so many different reasons, but really sitting here right now, as I record this podcast for you, I'm realizing so much of it was because I felt limited by that statement. I was socially awkward. I had a hard time with people. When I was younger I didn't think I would ever really get along being around people, and this statement scared me, that you be the average of the five people you spend the most time around.
And many of you know my story. I obsessively read about success, and I read about successful people, and I went into a state of just absorbing everything I could on how people create success. And then here's what happened. Early in my career, I had the opportunity to work with some of the most successful people in the world. Some that were worth billions of dollars, and it dawned on me that that statement just isn't true because billionaires didn't have a few billionaires to hang around with so that they could average them out and become billionaires. In fact, billionaires, especially those who are at the top of the list, they're setting new outcomes in success. They're setting new levels of success. They creating entirely new paradigms for success, so how is it that they get there?
Well, I remember thinking about this over and over again and trying to understand it. But it was in my conversations with billionaires, with people who were worth eight figures, nine figures, and yes even 10 figures, and I would always ask the same questions, like what books do you read, what did you learn how to be successful, who did you learn from, because I wanted to go to do the same things they did, to try and achieve the same level of success they had. And then it hit me one day, from asking the question of billionaires and people who had more wealth than you or I could spend in a lifetime, from talking to people who had gone from humble beginnings to maybe having an eight figure company, a nine figure company. This isn't easy. And none of them said, "Well, Alex, I gained my success through hanging around the right people."
I mean, they all said my network has helped me, and it certainly helps to know the right people, but not one said, "Alex, once I dialed in the five people I spent the most time around, then things got better." But here's what they shared with me. They shared who they read about. They shared whose work they appreciated. They shared who they learned from. And when you get around people who've created massive amounts of success, one thing that they are incredibly clear about is who they've learned from. And it hit me. We don't become the average of the people that we're around. We become the average of the people we learn the most from.
And I don't think that this entirely invalidates the quote, because I'm sure whoever said it for the first time, or whoever was credited with that first saying, we become the average of the five people we hang around the most or we're around the most, or spend the most time around. There probably was something to that we learn a lot from the people we're around, but that's not always how it is. In fact, Elon Musk's wife wrote a pretty poignant article about billionaires and she said, you know, "One of the things they do is they read, and they don't read from websites. They read from books. They absorb information. They take on as much as they can. They obsess at a very deep level about understanding and learning and knowing." And that's exactly what I found when I spent time around people who have created so much success, they shouldn't have to try anymore. They shouldn't need to try anymore. But ironically they're some of he hardest working people I've ever met.
And here's what I can tell you about all of them. They learn obsessively, and they can tell you who they've learned their most important lessons from, and they can share with you who they based their decisions around, and what philosophies meant the most to them. And who actually gave them the most information. And so for you, here's my question: who are you learning the most from? See, as a coach and consultant and content provider, I take this incredibly seriously because if someone's going to join one of my programs, if somebody's going to buy something from me, if they're going to be in a one on one coaching situation with me, or in one of our groups where there's more intimate contact, I by default am going to become one of those five people. And so I do everything I can to only share the information that I really understand and know, to put the most proven frameworks, the best information I have into the market, and to consistently monitor are my clients getting results? Are they getting what they should? Are they getting what they were promised, because here's how I feel about this. If I'm going to be one of the five in someone's average of who they learn the most from, I want to make sure I'm bringing up that average. I want to make sure that I'm helping them become a better person, so I hold myself to a high standard across the board.
From health and financial and with my wife and with my kids, I try and show up as the absolute best human being I can, because I feel like I owe it to my students. And now for you, here's maybe a charged question: who are you learning the most from, and are you okay with becoming like them? Because often times I've heard people say, well, I'm in this mastermind, but it's just for the network. I don't really like so and so who runs it, or I'm in this coaching program and it's been pretty frustrating and pretty difficult, but I'm in it because there's a lot of other people that are there. I'm in it because I need the contacts. But here's the challenge, guys, in this life you absorb information. It's going to affect your outcomes. It's going to affect how you show up.
And today maybe sitting down and asking yourself who are the five people you've learned the most from, will open a gateway to the next level of your success. Because proximity isn't everything. You can sit down today and go read from some of the most intelligent minds in history, and absorb information that most people don't take the time or the effort to absorb. You can pick up one of Drucker's 30 plus books. Peter Drucker has learned more about business in a book than most seminars and most events will teach you in a week. You can up your game by looking around and saying who do I actually want to be like? Who do I want to learn from? Who do I want to have an influence on me?
You know, when I go to a lot of events, I don't stay in the room. When I go to Robin Sharma's, I don't miss a minute. Robin is one of those people that I know that if I learn from, I am increasing my average. I am upping my game. And that's important to me, because I absolutely believe that where we learn, where we absorb information, who we follow, who's books we read, who's strategies, tactics and frameworks we take on, have a dramatic effect on who we end up being. And I also believe that for all of us, we should continually think about we become the average of the five people we learn the most from.
So, take a minute and take an inventory of you've learned from, who's information you've absorbed, where you're getting information from now, who's coaching program or systems or products you're in, and ask yourself am I okay with becoming that person, because I believe for people like us, that's just how it works. We become the average of the five people we learn the most from. You have an opportunity today to up your game. And I want to let you know how much it means to me that you're a listener of the Momentum Podcast, because that means you've chosen to learn from me, and absorb information from me, and I want to tell you that means the world to me.
And I appreciate you putting me in that esteemed position of being able to convey information with you, share what I've learned with you, and maybe even step into the role of one of the five people you learned the most from. Because I would be honored to be in that position, and I'll do everything I can to honor your decision. If you haven't yet, take a minute and download the Entrepreneurial Personality Type book. This is a book that will tell you more about yourself than anyone ever has, and if you haven't read it yet, you owe it to yourself. You owe it to the people around you to download this book because it describes our personality in detail, and of the thousands of people that have read it, the comment I get the most often about the book is: Alex, it's just the truth.
So, take a minute and go to freemomentumbook.com, freemomentumbook.com, and there is a free download of a mobile optimized PDF. It takes about 45 to 90 minutes to read the book, and at the end you may never see yourself in the same way again. Thanks for being here. I appreciate you being part of the Momentum Podcast, and I look forward to you sharing Episode 39 with you.