The Value of Surrounding Yourself with “Like-Minded” People

At this point in your career, you’ve probably heard the advice “surround yourself with like-minded people.” Perhaps you’ve heard this wisdom from a business course or a trusted mentor, or even found it in another online blog — a simple search of the term “like-minded” on LinkedIn yields pages and pages of posts on the topic.

Like many cliches, this advice is ubiquitous for a reason: it works. Just ask co-founders and CEOs Luis van Ahn and Severin Hacker. As expats who met in Silicon Valley and were English language learners themselves, both men saw the utility in gamifying the language learning experience. This led to the creation of Duolingo, the number one worldwide language learning application, with 74.1 million active monthly users.

There’s no doubt that the shared backgrounds and mindsets of these men contributed to the success of Duolingo, and countless other CEOs have cited the teams and peers they surround themselves with as instrumental pieces in their successes. But you don’t have to go to Silicon Valley to meet the Severin Hacker to your Luis van Ahn. In fact, you can find your “like-minded people” right here at EFBC! Our forums offer unique spaces where individuals can connect with other business leaders in small settings. They also provide a space in which those leaders can delve into impactful discussions on shared challenges, find solutions, and receive support in every step of their leadership journeys. But as you network at our forums and beyond, it’s also worth keeping in mind exactly what CEOs mean when they say “like-minded.”

Because the unfortunate truth is, too many business leaders take “like-minded” to mean “people who think exactly like me.” This can, in turn, lead to CEOs hiring workforces whose backgrounds, personal identifiers, and even educational experiences all align. Not only does this actively work against the stated diversity missions that many companies have, but it can be detrimental to bottom lines. In fact, 85% of CEOs cite diverse workforces as a factor in driving both innovation and business growth.

So if we agree that “surrounding yourself with like-minded people” doesn’t mean surrounding yourself with clones who talk and think exactly like you, what does it mean? The answer is: different things to different people. But what most successful CEOs have in common is the stated mission of surrounding themselves with the people they need to succeed. And when they say “like-minded,” here are some qualifiers on which they tend to align when pressed further on the topic:

  • Like-minded people don’t always agree with you, but they share your goals and values.
  • They want to see you succeed. They celebrate and share your wins.
  • They want to elevate themselves. They believe that rising tides float all boats.
  • They are often smarter than you or have already accomplished your goals. They can serve as mentors and role models.

Another tip that many CEOs shared on this topic was another tried and true cliche: “If you can’t play tennis, watch the game.” Perhaps you can’t make your role models your peers just yet, and that’s okay. But in the world we live in, you can consume their blog posts, podcasts, books, and YouTube videos. The beauty of the modern age is that “surrounding yourself with like-minded people” doesn’t have to be a physical act. Often, their tips, tricks, and innermost thoughts are available with just a click.