Secret Weapons 101: Diverse Networks

When I worked at EY, I had a great group of friends. Over time, I found that my circle consisted mainly of people at public accounting or similar firms. When I talked about entrepreneurial ideas, the response was often a blank stare. Most people in my network viewed life through the same lens. There wasn’t much diversity in thinking or interests.

When I started CCAW I didn’t know many entrepreneurs in Atlanta and struggled to gain traction. Eventually, though, I connected with some amazing founders. These people had different backgrounds and were solving all sorts of interesting problems. They were knowledgeable about finance, technology, the arts, advertising . . . To this day I’m amazed at how diverse this group was.

As I look back, I see that the diversity of my network played a huge role in my growth. These people introduced me to things I didn’t know existed. For instance, in 2009, I had no idea what a software developer did. Exposure to that knowledge led to CCAW building technology that would help power its growth.

When I’ve needed help in an area in which I’m not strong, my network has been a valuable resource. I once renovated a property and was terrified the project would go awry. Someone I knew helped me by giving me information that was critical and led to the project being successful.

Having a diverse network has also helped in recruiting. When I needed a great creative, artists I knew introduced me to credible candidates.

The diversity of my network has helped shape me. It’s broadened my perspective, made me more empathetic, and given me confidence to do things outside my areas of expertise.

If you’re building a company, doing something else great, or simply want to continually grow, seek friends and acquaintances who are different from each other—and different from you. The exposure could change your life!