Top 10 Strategies for “improving” your average of the five people you spend the most time with

It’s no secret that one of my favourite quotes in this world is this one:

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” — Jim Rohn

When I surround myself with “great” people, I do great things. On the flip side, when I surround myself with “toxic” people, I allow myself to be dragged down.

Have you observed the same thing in your life?

Being a nomad, the above quote seems to ring even truer for me.

As a result of my nomadic experiences, I feel like I have many different personalities, each living in the places I once lived. People who know me in Canada, Cambodia, Spain, India, and Colombia all know me differently because of the influence I got from people I surrounded myself with.

Anyway, last night I received the following comment to one of my articles and it got me thinking:

“I live in a small village in India, there are no like-minded people for me. Their goals and beliefs are totally different. Should I better be in solitude then?” — Yash Tripathi

Can you relate?

Even if you’re not necessarily in a small village, do you agree that it’s hard to find the right people to surround yourself with?

People who know me now may not see that part of me but I’m very much a solitary person. Yet to his very good question I answer this:

You are never better in solitude. You should always strive to surround yourself with people that uplift you one way or another.

Why the average of the five people?

Photo by John Cameron on Unsplash

To thrive in life, you need a good balance of alone/reflection time and social interactions. You learn most from people you surround yourself with.

Like most animals, we learn most by osmosis, meaning that another person’s behaviours, abilities, sayings, qualities, and flaws rub off on you just by being near them.

An ant learns to build a termite and carry heavy loads by observing what other ants do.

An ape learns to open a banana by observing how other apes do it.

If you look back at some people who influenced your life in the past, do you see that you picked up some of their behaviours, abilities, sayings, qualities, and flaws?

  • I picked up my caring for others, my hard working habits, my punctuality and my perseverance from my mom.
  • I picked up the little bit of competitiveness from my older brother who was better than me at pretty much everything except for school.
  • I picked up my smarts from my good friend Henri.
  • I picked up my social skills from my friend Martin.
  • I developed more caring for others, social skills and smarts from my wife. I also picked up empathy, ambition, and a desire to travel from my wife.

These are just a few examples.

If I look at my growth from the past 16 months, there’s no denying that most success I’ve had was partly influenced by my entourage, either in person or online.

How about you?

Who influenced your past and present life?

How did they influence it?

What are the 10 strategies?

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

1. Find the good in people around you

No one is perfect but it’s rare to find someone with really nothing to learn from. When you focus on the positive from a person, you start to see them in a different way and suddenly you see less of the bad stuff from them.

Implementation Ease: 9/10
Effectiveness: 6/10
Cost: Free
Time Required: ~60 minutes
Resources: A notebook?

2. Join online groups of like-minded individuals

It’s surprising how many online groups there are on any subject. Some are video-based, some are text-based and some are both.

I’m part of a few groups that really uplift me and make me want to be a better person. It’s worth finding groups like that.

Implementation Ease: 7/10 (requires some research and involvement)
Effectiveness: 8/10
Cost: Some free, some paid
Time Required: Depends on the group
ResourcesOnline Community Best PracticesFacebook GroupsList of big communitiesSkillUp your Life community

3. Find mentors

A mentor is someone you look up to who’s got the experience you want to have. You can find mentors both offline and online, and official or not. I have a few mentors who don’t even know they’re mentoring me!

Implementation Ease: 5/10 (requires a good amount of research and involvement)
Effectiveness: 9/10 (less depending on the amount you spend with the mentor)
Cost: Mostly free.
Time Required: Depends on the mentor/agreement
Resourcesmagnifi.ioHow to find a mentor in 10 not-so-easy steps by Jeff Goins

4. Read biographies

This one may not be obvious but reading a biography is similar to spending time with the subject of the book. You may not get physical osmosis but by reading about the person, it helps to get a feel of their personality and that does rub off on you.

Implementation Ease: 8/10
Effectiveness: 5/10
Cost: Cost of the book, usually ~$10+
Time Required: ~4 hours per book depending on the length
ResourcesAmazon Biographies, Browse Wikipedia

5. Read blogs of people you admire

I’ve read many people on and for some of them, I really feel like I know them, even though I’ve never met them. Those who write from an authenticity standpoint usually open up and that makes them relatable.

See the gratitude section below for some writers who influenced me personally.

Implementation Ease: 9/10
Effectiveness: 5/10
Cost: Free
Time Required: As much or as little as you want
ResourcesMedium top Inspiration writers

6. Learn new skills

Learning new skills forces you to look for people who have more experience than you do. It also helps you relate more to different people, expanding who you really do connect with. It helped me fight my shyness and introversion (the “bad” parts of it).

Implementation Ease: It really depends on the skill. Skill development is not as hard as one might think.
Effectiveness: 6/10 (+/-)
Cost: Mostly Free
Time Required: As much or as little as you want. I suggest at least 1 hour per day.
ResourcesSkillUpMichael SimmonsSkillShare.comMasterClassYouTube

7. Move somewhere else

Okay, this one is not super practical but if you can “afford” it, it can be worth it. I have places in the world where I prefer the person I am/was. I like the person I was in Cambodia, Spain, and Colombia the most. When in Canada, I much prefer the me from Toronto and less so the me from Montreal.

Moving somewhere else is the best way I found to refresh oneself and be who you really want to be since no one has any pre-conceptions of who you are.

For a simple version, rent an apartment for a month in a different country using Airbnb or something similar. You can do home exchange too.

Implementation Ease: 2/10 for most people. 9/10 for nomads.
Effectiveness: 9/10 (it really depends on where you move though)
Cost: Moving can be really expensive. It’s mostly cheap for nomads.
Time Required: This takes a lot of preparation and time to set up after. It takes a few minutes for nomads.
ResourcesCost of living comparatorNomadListAirbnbLoveHomeSwap

8. Work from a co-working space

This is the best way for me personally. This is where I spend 12 hours of my days so I try to make sure to surround myself with the right crowd. For me, it’s usually the early risers and late workers, entrepreneurs or freelancers.

A good co-working space encourages the meeting of people through social events and other means.

Implementation Ease: 6/10 (it can be pricey or just not available depending on the location)
Effectiveness: 10/10 (some co-working spaces are not as good though)
Cost: Co-working spaces can be pricey. Depending on where you are in the world, they go from $100–$1,000+
Time Required: 60 minutes of research + commuting to it every day.

9. Work from a virtual co-working space

If you can’t go to a physical co-working space, there are a few virtual ones. It’s a hot space right now. It has some of the benefits for its physical counterpart and is a good alternative and cheaper.

Implementation Ease: 8/10 (most are quite easy to join)
Effectiveness: 8/10 (that physical presence is worth something)
Cost: From free to cheap~ish
Time Required: 60 minutes of research + showing up
ResourcesThe ArenaFocusMate

10. Host people at home

I’ve had a blast hosting deeply inspiring people on Couchsurfing and I’ve met incredible hosts on both Airbnb and Couchsurfing. Hosting people is a great way to meet a diverse group of people. It’s like travelling without the airport and exotic locations. As a seasoned traveller, what really matters to me is the people I meet and not so much the sights I see.

Implementation Ease: 6/10 (this can be tricky for some)
Effectiveness: 4/10 (you don’t always get great inspiring people and they don’t necessarily stay long enough to have an impact on you)
Cost: You make money!
Time Required: This can be time-consuming

How do I Up my entourage?

Now, these strategies are helpful (hopefully), but how does that apply to your current situation?

To make it easier for you, I’ve compiled a few common scenarios and point out which strategies work best for each, based on my own experiences and people I talked to.

First off, I say “Up” in the sense of spending less time with toxic people and more with “great” people. And let’s define toxic and “great” as such:

Toxic: Someone who is not helping you become who you want to be.
Great: Someone who is uplifting you and helping you become who you want to be.

Some people will tell you to remove toxic people from your life. It’s not that simple. Think in terms of “Upping” your average instead, it’s easier and more realistic.

The following 6 strategies are universal across all scenarios (full descriptions above):

  1. Find the good in people around you
  2. Join online groups of like-minded individuals
  3. Find mentors
  4. Read biographies
  5. Read blogs of people you admire
  6. Learn new skills

Scenario 1: I live in a small village and there’s no one around me

Photo by Ricardo Gomez Angel on Unsplash

7. Move somewhere else

9. Work from a virtual co-working space

10. Host people

I realize 7 is probably not practical but it’s worth considering. Especially if the environment is toxic.

9 is probably the easiest to implement if the wifi connection is good enough. And since co-working is about working, it’s not that big a deal if English is not your best language.

10 may be a little hard depending on how far it is from a big city but nomads and travellers do love authentic experiences. As a result, you get “higher quality” guests.

Scenario 2: There are toxic people around me and I can’t find “great” people

Photo by vadim kaipov on Unsplash

7. Move somewhere else

8. Work from a co-working space

9. Work from a virtual co-working space

10. Host people

Again, 7 is not practical but a powerful remedy sometimes.

I’d definitely try to aim for 8 if the work you do revolves around a computer to some degree. The people you’ll meet will uplift you. Even if you may not talk to them, just seeing them work hard is enough to inspire you.

Hosting people (10) is a good way to balance the negativity. It may be hard to convince flat-mates or parents to do that though.

Scenario 3: I’m too shy or introverted to surround myself with “great” people

Photo by Larm Rmah on Unsplash

Extra emphasis on the 6 universal strategies.

I was like that too. By applying the 6 universal strategies, I mostly got rid of both. I’m still an introvert, but I’m a lot more social now.

Scenario 4: I work from home and rarely see anyone

Photo by Paige Cody on Unsplash

8. Work from a co-working space

9. Work from a virtual co-working space

10. Host people

If you can afford 8, do it, it’s worth it. If not, 9 is definitely worth a shot too. That’s what both The Arena and FocusMate are about (see links above).

10 can be a little disruptive but can sometimes work. It takes a little more experimenting.

Scenario 5: I can’t find the time to meet new people

Photo by Aron Visuals on Unsplash

Extra emphasis on:

  1. Find the good in people around you

I’d argue that you should make time for that but if you really can’t then might as well make the best out of the people who are already around you!

*Feel free to leave a comment with a scenario you’d like me to include to the current list.


I hope that helped you figure out 1) why it’s important to spend time with the right people, and 2) how to actually make it happen for your specific case.

If you apply at least the 6 universal strategies, I can assure you you’ll Up your entourage.

Remember, find the good in people around you, join online groups of like-minded individuals, find mentors, read biographies, read blogs of people you admire, and learn new skills.

But also consider moving somewhere else, going to co-working spaces (physical or virtual) and hosting people.

Reflect on the strategies and figure out how to best use them.

You can do this!

Thanks for reading, sharing, and following! 🙂

Btw, I created a tool to make it easier to Up your entourage. Check it out on my website.


  • Danny Forest

    Viking-looking polymath writing for today’s knowledge economy, building a more skillful tomorrow.

    I'm a top writer on, writing about Travel, Inspiration, Self Improvement, Productivity, Entrepreneurship, Life, Life Lessons, Startup, Photography, and more. My stories have inspired over a million people around the world. But outside of writing, I'm a Serial Entrepreneur, Software Engineer, Photographer, and Constant Learner.