I was visiting a neighbor recently and there was a man in his mid-to-late 80s, who happened to be at the house as well. During the course of conversation, he started to quiz me about my book, The Power of Peers: How the Company You Keep Drives Leadership, Growth & Success, which I coauthored with Leon Shapiro. He asked some incredibly good questions. I loved his curiosity and offered him a copy, which he graciously accepted. In return, he jotted down a quote in Italian (see graphic above), which essentially means: “Tell me your company, and I’ll tell you who you are.”
While it’s strikingly similar to the English expression, “You’re known by the company you keep,” I found the translation of the Italian especially powerful. There’s something more pointed about the idea that the people with whom I surround myself reveals something larger about who I am as a person. I can only hope so because about a week or so later, I spent an incredible day in San Francisco with two people whom I not only admire and respect, but also really like.
André Eidskrem and Karen Floyd were kind enough to treat me to a taste of Europe with visits to the Royal Norwegian Consul General, Hilde Janne Skorpen and Spain Tech Center Director, Christian Prada. Again, I marveled at the insightful questions and the immediate grasp of two things: 1) Who we surround yourself with matters; and 2) we don’t pay nearly enough attention to number 1. Whether you’re a CEO of a Norwegian company, founder of a Spanish tech start-up, or just trying to spread the word about the power of peers and peer advantage. We’re all far more effective when we surround ourselves with great people – people who will support us when we ask, challenge us when we need it, and provide a perspective that offers a new way of thinking or a new way forward.
As I reflect on the past year, I think about all the amazing people I’ve met who have already made my life richer. I hope the company I keep, as the Italian expression suggests, is the truest reflection of who I am as a person. Next time you look in the mirror, rather than look at your reflection, turn around and take stock of the people in your life. Make this the reflection that matters most and it will change your life for the better.