31 January 2019

My Learning - Part 8 - People

Great people: Definition

I use the term "great people" a lot in this post but when I tried to define what I mean with "great people" it turned out to be harder than I thought.

I ended up with:
People who make me greater when I spend time with them
People who teach and/or influence me to act in a way I want to act

Great people: Common attributes I look for

  • Passion for learning
  • Positive attitude
  • Curios
  • High standards
  • Passion for teaching their skills
  • Not accepting excuses (neither from themselves nor from others)
  • Action-oriented
  • Open and including personality
  • Not money-driven (but may have been)
  • Thankful
  • Not necessarily talkative but communicative
  • High energy
  • Eager to interact with other great people
  • Have experienced success as a result of hard work
  • Devoted to understand rather than being right
  • Self-aware
  • Humble

Why I value great people

  • Reminders
    I see the great people having fun as they learn and I see how they use those learnings to accomplish amazing things. This inspires me to do the same.
  • Routines and standards
    When I'm with passionate learners I learn from, get inspired by and pick up these people's routines and standards. These routines and standards are often cornerstones in maintaining a high level of effectiveness, motivation and energy.
  • Learning as the social norm
    When learning becomes the social norm I feel more comfortable performing learning activities that might otherwise seem strange or eccentric. It also builds a healthy expectation on myself to learn: "Everyone else does, so I probably should too".
  • Reaction to not learning
    Mental blocks, bad luck or distractions can make me lose interest in my learning. A bad combination is that when this happens I'm usually the last one to have the energy necessary to get back on track. When I'm surrounded by passionate people there will always be someone who reacts though: "I haven't heard much from you lately, is it for a good or a bad reason?". This is usually the first step on my way back.
  • Learning becomes a healthy distraction
    When I'm exposed to other people's learning their work becomes a healthy distraction meaning if I'm bored I might go and read that book my friend recommended or write a blog post rather than play a video game or watch a Netflix series.
  • Never running out of options
    Being exposed to many passionate people's learning means I have an abundance of content recommendations, topics I can explore or interesting, creative activities I can try.
  • Clearing blocks
    Sometimes I run into a challenge I just can't manage on my own. Having people around me who have run into the same block or know others who have, means I got plenty of people who can help me remove or move around it which lowers the risk of me losing interest due to the block.
  • More opportunities
    I mentioned how opportunities guide my learning more than goals in part 2. What's interesting with opportunities is great people tend to get exposed to great opportunities. Having plenty of great people around me means I get access to many of the great opportunities they get.
  • Fame rubs off
    If I "succeed" is something I can impact but not control. What's interesting though is if I "succeed" (get a great job offer, get recognized by some important person etc.) my "fame" kinda rubs off to the people around me. The same is true the other way around. An example of this is my super-peer: Helena Jeret-Mäe. When she has been presenting at big conferences I have a few times been getting new followers on Twitter and/or seen the interest in my blog increase which positively impacts my own chances of success.
  • Efficient learning
    Having a passionate friend share the things they think will be the most useful to me is the closest thing I know to beating the 24h/day limitation; I get the best of all those hours they've spent studying delivered in just a few minutes.
To summarize:
Greatness is contagious!

3 golden rules

  1. Put myself in positions where I can meet great people
  2. Take initiative
  3. Give everyone a chance but after that be selective

How I find people

The easiest way for me to meet great people is to put myself in positions where great people are.
  • Attend local meetups and events
  • Attend conferences
  • Attend courses
  • Organize events
  • Offer mentoring
  • Let friends introduce me to their friends
  • Participate in public exercises and challenges
  • Create or join special interest groups on social networks
  • Post in public discussions
  • Use "social hubs" (people with large networks) to help me find new interesting people
  • Ask for mentoring and coaching
I also try to make myself visible so that people can more easily find me.
  • I blog
  • I comment on blog posts and articles
  • I do public speaking
  • Some of my public speaking engagements are recorded and available online
  • I try to be a good, helpful person making others more willing to recommend me
  • I accept challenges thrown my way as long as I can fully commit to them

Make it happen

I can meet millions of great individuals but if nothing happens I'll be forgotten by all of them; so I try to take initiative.

I'll once again give you a bunch of examples since they're applicable in different situations:
  • I introduce myself
  • I attend the same events as the other person (create an opportunity to meet again)
  • I invite them to a lunch or dinner
  • I ask if they want to do some exercise or activity together with me
  • I try to sit next to them/near them when we're attending the same event
  • I ask them questions
  • I challenge them (in a polite and respectful way)
  • If we have a common friend, I can ask that friend to introduce me
  • I do some quick social stalking (check Facebook, LinkedIn or similar) to see if there are any relevant overlaps; maybe we've worked for the same company before. This helps me communicate better with them.
  • If the person has a professional blog, podcast or YouTube channel, I check the content so I can comment or give feedback; it also helps me pick relevant topics when we talk.
  • If I'm at a workshop and we're suppose to form groups I'll be the first to stand up and ask the people I want to meet if they care to form a group with me.
  • ... or I just go: "You seem like an interesting person, care to join me for a chat?".
It seems to me that most people want to meet new passionate people, they just don't dare to take the first step, which is something I can help them with.


This is by far the most important point I'll make in this blog post!

I focus on what I can bring to a relationship and let this dictate my behavior.

Let me repeat:
I focus on what I can bring to a relationship and let this dictate my behavior.

Here's a short list of things I can provide in a "learning relationship":
  • Mentoring or teaching
  • Coaching
  • Give the other person the opportunity to practice coaching or teaching
  • Inspire and/or energize the other person
  • Practice/conduct an experiment together
  • Share ideas or experiences
  • Organize something together
  • Help them solve a problem
  • Help them create something
  • Make them feel smart and/or valuable by showing genuine interest
  • Give them honest, constructive feedback
  • Make them laugh
  • Share a contact
  • Offer my time and/or expertise, for instance I can review one of their articles
  • Share a recommendation (book, video, pod etc.)
Obviously I have limited amounts of time so I have to prioritize and the value I think I can get back (long term) impacts who I'll prioritize (spend time with).

Finally: This doesn't mean I won't suggest topics/activities, ask for help, ask questions, ask for favors, stop conversations or take initiative; for a person to be able to know what kind of "stuff" I'm interested in I need to be open about it (what's the value of a conversation where we have no common interests) and it can even relieve the other person of responsibility that person might not want anyway (that awkward situation when two people look at each other waiting for the other to take initiative). What it does mean however is if I sense that the other person isn't interested in the topic or in me (right now), I won't force a conversation even if I'm interested.

Interacting with my heroes

  • They're a person just like me, so I try to treat them like any other person I know:
    Joke, show interest, allow myself to be vulnerable etc.
  • I try to come prepared:
    Time is often limited so I need to prepare what questions I want to ask, what I want to share etc.
  • Focusing on what I can bring becomes even more important:
    Usually I'll get plenty of great stuff back but even if I don't; if I've focused on providing (not forcing) value to the other person I've likely strengthened our relationship and great relationships with great people = Great.
It's about being helpful and friendly, not about trying to impress or getting something back.

At the end of the day any hero is just a passionate human trying to have a good time. Any way I can make that happen is a reason for them to later help me or a way for me to thank them for help they've already provided... it's really that simple...

... and yes, I sometimes I want to make a good impression in a very short amount of time which leads to stupid shortcuts (e.g. bragging) but I genuinely try to follow these guidelines.

Show appreciation

(this is a reminder to myself, feel free to skip it)

Something I want to do more frequently is showing appreciation to people who've helped me. For instance when I've listened to a great podcast I want to tell the podcast host that I sincerely appreciate her work or I want to tell an author that her book made a great impact on me and what that impact led to. There are some learning benefits to this as well but listing them feels silly because the real value is helping a great person understand their greatness and I know way too many great people who doesn't...

"Giving is the best gift of all", like some wise person said...

Thank you!

Finally, this is an opportunity for me to thank some of the great people who've meant more to this blog post than they'll ever take credit for:

♥ Helena Jeret-Mäe
♥ Göran Bakken
♥ Magnus Hübsch
♥ Lukas Bergliden
♥ Robert Gistvik

I would be nowhere close to where I am today without you!

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