I'm in the JFK airport, drinking a Sam Adams on draft (how novel!) and killing an hour between flights. Coming from Berlin, headed back to San Diego. My parents are selling my childhood home, did I tell you? I'm going home to sleep in my own bed one last time. It's a rather surreal thing, especially when it's mostly happening nine timezones away, so I'm glad to be headed west for the week.
To be honest, I've been thinking rather obsessively about family and home and community recently. Chalk it up to a combination of turning one year older this month, losing my teenage bedroom, being underwhelmed the number of people (one, me) living in my current one-bedroom apartment, and a variety of other things.It also implies that you should also be trying to trade up, networking with someone who is more established in their career than you. It's a losing game, really. By default, you will have less in common with that person than you do with your college roommate.
But as it can so often and so beautifully happen, the universe decided to provide. Meaning that, in the last week, I've had two rather miraculous community experiences--one of which was this amazing gig pictured above that I was invited on stage for--where I was plunged into really, really interesting groups of people. Filled with peers doing insane, smart, interesting, exciting things. Groups that felt like family.
In #entrylevelboss terms, it was a hell of a networking week. But the keyword in this story is not networking--it's "peers."
I spend a lot of time looking around rooms (both this week and in general) and just being all-around stoked on my friends and acquaintances. And it feels like I'm constantly meeting new people--friends of friends, second-degree connections--who are doing even more cool stuff.
My network is, to put it lightly, utterly off-the-charts. But I'm not actually talking about CEOs and celebrities and the very-very rich. I know some of those, too, and they're all insanely cool--but the group I'm most obsessed with is my own peer group. People who are also ambitious, and curious, and generally on the up-and-up.
Networking is often portrayed as this awkward thing you're "supposed" to be doing in order to get ahead. And it's also often portrayed as an upwards-thing. Like, crowd around the most important person in the room--or at least someone who works for the most important company--and try to be awkwardly polite until you exchange business cards or emails. In the hopes of getting hired somewhere down the line.
The whole thing implies that you should always be trying to trade up, networking with someone who is more established in their career than you. It's a losing game, really. By default, you will have less in common with that person than you do with your college roommate.
It's forced, and boring, and kinda lame. The connection isn't real.
This is kind of a hard principle to narrow down into one sound-byte this week, and my next flight is boarding soon, so bear with me for just one second. Let's try this:
1) I want you to mentally name your ten favorite friends, or acquaintances. Right now. For the sake of this exercise, these must be people who are no more than five years older than you. People who you enjoy spending time with, who you're interested to learn more about. They can be high school friends, college roommates, current colleagues, new acquaintances from your yoga class--whatever.
2) Now, fast forward to the year 2023. And imagine what those ten people are all doing professionally.
For me, I see a New York Times bestselling author. An important strategic director at Google. A Grammy-nominated songwriter. A top-tier New York lawyer. The CFO of Tesla. The CMO of Instagram. The founder of a company that doesn't yet exist.
I can't guarantee any of that will happen in seven years, or ever. But the point is this: as you advance your own career, so do your friends and coworkers and colleagues. In ways you can't even imagine yet.
Just take a moment to cherish how cool that is, and how cool these people already are.
Okay, now I really have to go. Plane is boarding soon. San Diego, here I come.
PS: THANK YOU FOR ALL OF YOUR QUESTIONS SO FAR!!!! I'm getting to all of you, and answering as many as I can as soon as possible.