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Why “Who You Know” Beats “What You Know”

Why “Who You Know” Beats “What You Know”

Think for a second about how most first-world education is set up: it’s often about what you know, meaning the quantity of concepts. This is often why students ask “Is this on the test?” They want to be sure about what they know: is it the right mix of what they are supposed to know?

Even outside of school, students are often encouraged to read more and pick up new skills. It becomes increasingly about quantity. It can lead to a culture of overscheduled kids and anxious parents.[1]

Tony Robbins and Tim Ferriss have addressed this in a podcast episode: there are achievement cultures and fulfillment cultures.[2] Achievement cultures are focused on quantity of tasks or goals achieved; the number matters more than almost anything else. Fulfillment cultures can be more about personal contentment, growth, happiness, etc. — and less about hitting a specific number.

America and many first-world countries are largely achievement cultures, so we focus a good deal on what we know. What if that’s the wrong approach?

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Why “who you know” matters more

What about knowing more people? And what about knowing the right people?

    Dealing with other human beings is a huge part of what most of us do, whether you work in a call center, sell real estate, or create marketing solutions for small businesses.

    How we get along with others is often the greatest indicator of success. Reed Hastings, the CEO of Netflix, has even warned other leaders of hiring “the brilliant jerk” — someone who does well on paper with goals and numbers, but has limited likability and alienates teammates.[3]

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    The bottom line is that people around you affect you: they can make you happier, healthier, and more successful — or the opposite. Based on the research from Nicholas Christakis at Yale, most of this influence is passive and gradual. You may not even notice it as it’s happening.[4] But over time, you become a reflection of those you spend time with. Understanding who is in your immediate network, and whether they’re a good addition or toxic, is important.

      At a deeper professional level, one of the more successful connectors and networkers in Silicon Valley — a huge business hub right now — is Adam Rifkin, and he organizes 106 Mile Meetups once a month.[5] These have become premier technical events for engineers and coders, and often people get new jobs directly from these events.

      It’s more about who you know — and making sure those are the right people — than what you know.

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      How to get to know the right people

      There are a million articles online about better networking and first impressions, so we won’t go down those routes. You’ve probably heard a lot of that advice about eye contact and only discussing yourself 20% of the time (most people flip this and discuss themselves 80% of the time).

      Instead, consider some of these approaches:

      • Thank the people around you. This shows appreciation for their efforts, and you also remind yourself how blessed you are and feel better in the process. Hearing “thanks” from others genuinely strengthens most relationships.
      • Give more than you get. In fact, trying to “take” (get numbers and job offers, etc.) in a networking context is much more of the failure path because no one likes a taker who never gives. Be the person who gives of him/herself at events and offers to help others or find resources. Most will remember and when it’s time for the opposite to happen, you have connections.
      • Ask for help, share thoughts. In short, be social. Connect. Discuss. Exchange ideas. Human beings are social animals. That’s one of our great advantages. Be that when you network and build connections.
      • Connect around your interest. One of the more successful networkers at Davos, Rich Stromback, has claimed that “99% of networking is a waste of time” because many people care too much about first impressions.[6] Care about trying to genuinely connect around your interests instead.
      • Realize this won’t be easy. Relationship-building takes time to do effectively. Jeff Goins has described this well: you need to be comfortable approaching the right people, become comfortable with rejection (very hard), understand nothing happens overnight despite what popular culture might show us, and be ready to approach some people with your fears because it will make you appear genuine and potentially draw you into them.

      Start to connect

      Imagine this fantasy situation: you know everything in the world. Every single fact. Every single piece of knowledge. All of it. If you were this person but didn’t know any other people, or didn’t know how to talk to people or connect with them, how far would you get?

      Not very far.

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      Now imagine you know 1/4 of what that person does. There is much you lack. You don’t know so many things but you know people and have relationships. Think that person will go far?

      Yes.

      It’s not what you know. It’s who. Cultivate connection.

      Reference

      More by this author

      Brian Lee

      Chief of Product Management at Lifehack

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      Last Updated on September 30, 2020

      Effective vs Efficient: What’s the Difference Regarding Productivity?

      Effective vs Efficient: What’s the Difference Regarding Productivity?

      When it comes to being effective vs efficient, there are a lot of similarities, and because of this, they’re often misused and misinterpreted, both in daily use and application.

      Every business should look for new ways to improve employee effectiveness and efficiency to save time and energy in the long term. Just because a company or employee has one, however, doesn’t necessarily mean that the other is equally present.

      Utilizing both an effective and efficient methodology in nearly any capacity of work and life will yield high levels of productivity, while a lack of it will lead to a lack of positive results.

      Before we discuss the various nuances between the word effective and efficient and how they factor into productivity, let’s break things down with a definition of their terms.

      Effective vs Efficient

      Effective is defined as “producing a decided, decisive, or desired effect.” Meanwhile, the word “efficient ” is defined as “capable of producing desired results with little or no waste (as of time or materials).”[1]

      A rather simple way of explaining the differences between the two would be to consider a light bulb. Say that your porch light burned out and you decided that you wanted to replace the incandescent light bulb outside with an LED one. Either light bulb would be effective in accomplishing the goal of providing you with light at night, but the LED one would use less energy and therefore be the more efficient choice.

      Now, if you incorrectly set a timer for the light, and it was turned on throughout the entire day, then you would be wasting energy. While the bulb is still performing the task of creating light in an efficient manner, it’s on during the wrong time of day and therefore not effective.

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      The effective way is focused on accomplishing the goal, while the efficient method is focused on the best way of accomplishing the goal.

      Whether we’re talking about a method, employee, or business, the subject in question can be either effective or efficient, or, in rare instances, they can be both.

      When it comes to effective vs efficient, the goal of achieving maximum productivity is going to be a combination where the subject is effective and as efficient as possible in doing so.

      Effectiveness in Success and Productivity

      Being effective vs efficient is all about doing something that brings about the desired intent or effect[2]. If a pest control company is hired to rid a building’s infestation, and they employ “method A” and successfully completed the job, they’ve been effective at achieving the task.

      The task was performed correctly, to the extent that the pest control company did what they were hired to do. As for how efficient “method A” was in completing the task, that’s another story.

      If the pest control company took longer than expected to complete the job and used more resources than needed, then their efficiency in completing the task wasn’t particularly good. The client may feel that even though the job was completed, the value in the service wasn’t up to par.

      When assessing the effectiveness of any business strategy, it’s wise to ask certain questions before moving forward:

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      • Has a target solution to the problem been identified?
      • What is the ideal response time for achieving the goal?
      • Does the cost balance out with the benefit?

      Looking at these questions, a leader should ask to what extent a method, tool, or resource meets the above criteria and achieve the desired effect. If the subject in question doesn’t hit any of these marks, then productivity will likely suffer.

      Efficiency in Success and Productivity

      Efficiency is going to account for the resources and materials used in relation to the value of achieving the desired effect. Money, people, inventory, and (perhaps most importantly) time, all factor into the equation.

      When it comes to being effective vs efficient, efficiency can be measured in numerous ways[3]. In general, the business that uses fewer materials or that is able to save time is going to be more efficient and have an advantage over the competition. This is assuming that they’re also effective, of course.

      Consider a sales team for example. Let’s say that a company’s sales team is tasked with making 100 calls a week and that the members of that team are hitting their goal each week without any struggle.

      The members on the sales team are effective in hitting their goal. However, the question of efficiency comes into play when management looks at how many of those calls turn into solid connections and closed deals.

      If less than 10 percent of those calls generate a connection, the productivity is relatively low because the efficiency is not adequately balancing out with the effect. Management can either keep the same strategy or take a new approach.

      Perhaps they break up their sales team with certain members handling different parts of the sales process, or they explore a better way of connecting with their customers through a communications company.

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      The goal is ultimately going to be finding the right balance, where they’re being efficient with the resources they have to maximize their sales goals without stretching themselves too thin. Finding this balance is often easier said than done, but it’s incredibly important for any business that is going to thrive.

      Combining Efficiency and Effectiveness to Maximize Productivity

      Being effective vs efficient works best if both are pulled together for the best results.

      If a business is ineffective in accomplishing its overall goal, and the customer doesn’t feel that the service is equated with the cost, then efficiency becomes largely irrelevant. The business may be speedy and use minimal resources, but they struggle to be effective. This may put them at risk of going under.

      It’s for this reason that it’s best to shoot for being effective first, and then work on bringing efficiency into practice.

      Improving productivity starts with taking the initiative to look at how effective a company, employee, or method is through performance reviews. Leaders should make a point to regularly examine performance at all levels on a whole, and take into account the results that are being generated.

      Businesses and employees often succumb to inefficiency because they don’t look for a better way, or they lack the proper tools to be effective in the most efficient manner possible.

      Similar to improving a manager or employee’s level of effectiveness, regularly measuring the resources needed to obtain the desired effect will ensure that efficiency is being accounted for. This involves everything from keeping track of inventory and expenses, to how communication is handled within an organization.

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      By putting in place a baseline value for key metrics and checking them once changes have been made, a company will have a much better idea of the results they’re generating.

      It’s no doubt a step-by-step process. By making concentrated efforts, weakness can be identified and rectified sooner rather than later when the damage is already done.

      Bottom Line

      Understanding the differences between being effective vs efficient is key when it comes to maximizing productivity. It’s simply working smart so that the intended results are achieved in the best way possible. Finding the optimal balance should be the ultimate goal for employees and businesses:

      • Take the steps that result in meeting the solution.
      • Review the process and figure out how to do it better.
      • Repeat the process with what has been learned in a more efficient manner.

      And just like that, effective and efficient productivity is maximized.

      More on How to Improve Productivity

      Featured photo credit: Tim van der Kuip via unsplash.com

      Reference

      [1] Merriam-Webster: effective and efficient
      [2] Mind Tools: Being Effective at Work
      [3] Inc.: 8 Things Really Efficient People Do

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