“The company you keep” part 2: forcing success upon yourself

January 12, 2009 by Jared Goralnick

Gary Vaynerchuk & Loic Le Meur, two sources of inspiration I’ve talked a great deal about the effects of surrounding yourself with people who are where you’d like to be, who are experts, and who you respect.

Now here’s the trick: use those friendships to force yourself to be accountable, and ultimately successful.

Coming back from the trip, I started this year with a blank calendar.  That meant I made lots of phone calls and emails this past week, which turned into meetings and projects for which I’m now incredibly excited. 

For those meetings to be valuable, there are things I have to do first.  I can disappoint myself (and frequently do), but I don’t disappoint the people I respect.

This is really just one of the commitment hacks I mentioned, but it’s by far the easiest and my favorite.  Here are a few ways this works. 

Case 1. You Know How, But Are Concerned With Getting There

If you know how to accomplish a goal but find it difficult to actually execute:

  1. Email or call a person you really respect who is in a related field to your goal
  2. Tell them you really want to show them what you’ve been working on to get their feedback.  Say you’re not ready yet but that you’re working toward something and want to talk to them because you really value their opinion.  Make it a bit more personal than that
  3. Schedule an appointment, preferably face to face (since you’re making them go out of their way, the stakes are higher for you to deliver)
  4. Work
  5. Show up and kick ass

Case 2. You Don’t Know How, But Know Someone Who Does

If you don’t know exactly the best steps to follow, and you’re worried that, even with that knowledge, you might not be able to pull the trigger:

  1. Email or call a person you really respect who is in a related field to your goal
  2. Tell them you’ve been working on something but are stuck and could really use their insight.  Make it a bit more personal than that
  3. Schedule an appointment (since there are two appointments in this case, I’d suggest one of them to be in person and one to be on the phone—decide whether the knowledge or the commitment is the more important part)
  4. At the appointment, tell them your story and take their insight.  If you’re in person, write some of it down so they can see you’re taking it seriously.  If you’re remote, use screen-sharing or video to make the meeting feel more formal.  Come up with 1 or 2 concrete and attainable goals.  Tell them you’re serious about this and say that you’ll let them know your progress in 15/30/45/60 days.
  5. If you’re comfortable, ask them if they’d be willing to have a call or face to face with you at that time interval to help you commit to this, they’ll probably say yes
  6. Work
  7. When the time comes, show up and kick ass


In both of the above cases, take it seriously.  Ensure the person you’re reaching out to is someone you admire and whose respect you value: someone whose time you’re fearful of abusing.  And while you’re talking with them, tell them that you’re serious about this project many times.

And lastly:

Case 3. Pay Someone to Finish/Collaborate, Force Yourself to Start

This is a little different, but I want to throw it in here because I’ve used it many times this month.  A lot of the people who read this site have employees or contractors or freelancers that they pay; if you aren’t in that position then feel free to skip this.

  1. Ask someone you work with to show up, paid by the hour, to start a project
  2. Ensure them that you’ll get everything ready for them so they can start right away.  Ask them in advance to block out some time that week to work on the project—again, this will force you to step up to the plate for fear of doubly wasting their time
  3. Do what you’ve got to do so that you don’t waste their time or your money OR be ready to plot out a project timeline when they show up so you can effectively collaborate


Actions may speak louder than words, but forcing yourself to utter things is a surmountable and tangible first step.  Start off by saying exactly what you’re going to do and then lo and behold you’ll end up doing it.

Tangible Examples

Here are some of my commitments (no, this has nothing to do with New Year’s resolutions, but maybe those will come soon):

  • Case 1+2: Brian, I’m going to get you whatever you need from me by the end of this month so that we can hold an event in May or October that seriously motivates and educates both students and industry to build tech products in this region
  • Case 2: Paul, I’m going to fill in the chart detailing the subscriptions by the end of the month.  And explain what we’re going to do improve one of those metrics
  • Case 3: Eric, I’ll be sure that BatchBook and our spreadsheet is totally ready for you to get all of our CRM and market research ready.  Oh wait, that’s tomorrow!

Many of them I can’t list for specific reasons, but this is the tip of the iceberg.  I’ve made commitments to some of (1) my (1) favorite (1) people (1+2) where I’ll uphold my ends of the bargain.

So you can see I’m pretty serious about this.  How about you, who are you going to call?  It takes just 60 seconds to get the ball rolling.

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8 Responses to ““The company you keep” part 2: forcing success upon yourself”

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  1. bryonycole (Bryony)

    reading “Forcing success through good company” http://tinyurl.com/co6usg

  2. GrantGriffiths (Grant Griffiths)

    RT @hdbbstephen: New post on success from technotheory http://bit.ly/Vixg

  3. hdbbstephen (Stephen Smith)

    New post on success from technotheory http://bit.ly/Vixg


  1. Clay Collins

    Excellent article, especially given that it came from someone who really knows their shit on this topic. Thanks for the excellent read.


  2. Bob Blonchek

    I got alot out of this post Jared. Thanks.

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