Networking for Success

with Adam Rifkin

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Energy is more important than time

Adam Rifkin

Co-Founder of PandaWhale, Most Networked, Giver

Lessons Learned

Entrepreneurs need sleep!

A startup is one of the hardest things that a person can do.

The ecosystem is greater than yourself, so you must contribute to it.


Lesson: Networking for Success with Adam Rifkin

Step #8 Energy: Energy is more important than time

It reminds me a lot of the key difference, I think, between an introvert and an extrovert. An extrovert gets a lot of energy out of talking with other people. Like they find it very energizing. Whereas an introvert has to spend energy whenever they're with other people. It's not that they dislike being with the person. But in that it's a drain on their internal resources. So as that person in business, you always have to keep or be mindful most of energy. It's more important than time I would say, because if you're drained all the time, if you're exhausted, then you can't do very much of anything.

Being able to tap into what your energy level is and make sure that you never get below a certain balance is really important. This is why I think it's important for entrepreneurs to sleep a lot more than our culture tells people to. Our culture seems to defend lots of sleepless nights. I have to say that that in general makes people less productive than more productive. So if there's one thing to be mindful, not just in building networks, but in business, it's keep track of your energy level and make sure that you have resources that you can call on when you need them.

Doing a startup is hard and the more I say it, the more I believe it. It's hard, it's one of the hardest things a person has to do but that doesn't mean that it's not worth doing. In fact, you're just given this one life so why not do the hardest thing that you can do, right? That, everything that looks like it's going to lead to suffering, could actually be interesting opportunities. So I think the key is to approach it with the right attitude of, "Yeah, I'm not going to avoid the pain, instead, I'm going to barrel through this. I'm going to make things happen and I'm up for the challenges. Bring them on."

But also be mindful of the fact that you shouldn't do it alone, that nobody does it alone. Everybody has support structures. You have co-founders and you have to be willing to share with them. If you're feeling vulnerable, if you're feeling some kind of emotion, you have to be able to share it with them, so that way you can get it out of your head and really understand why you're feeling that way and work through it.

Similarly, every entrepreneur or founder has family and friends and rather than shut them out, family and friends can't understand everything that you're going through but they certainly can be there for emotional support and they certainly can be there just to listen to you. What you want to do, you actually want to engage them because otherwise, you do grow apart from them. If you keep them in touch with what you're feeling and why you're feeling it, then they understand more why you're doing what you're doing and it deepens your relationship with them too.

So the key is to not let it be isolating. Sure, there is nobody who knows what you're going through, besides you, of all the details, but you can share many of those details and use those to deepen your relationships with people and that's what so great about it.

Almost everybody who lands in Silicon Valley doesn't have a lot when they land. They don't have a lot of resources, they don't have a lot of money, they don't have a lot of connections. They may have a lot of energy but we are only humans and energy will only take you so far and we still only have 24 hours in a day. So pay it forward is this concept of this person who arrives here doesn't have tremendous things and yet they still need to get things done and the way they get things done is that people usually are willing to do things for them.

You can imagine the entire ecosystem where people are willing to do things for other people even though there isn't much in it for them at all with the notion that if that person is successful, then they will be willing to do it for the next person who arrives. That philosophy really is baked into our ecosystem in Silicon Valley. I have seen this time and again with people. Sometimes it even surprises me because they are powerful, they are rich and they are still willing to do these kinds of pay it forward actions for people.

I would say that paying it forward and being a giver, they tap into the same basic notion that rather than put it right on the table of I do this for you and then you do this for me, they are saying you know what? I do this for you and hopefully, if you get to the point where you are successful, you can do it for somebody else. So I think they draw from the same essential philosophy. I think the reason that is essential is that it creates the next generation of people who are then able to help the next generation of people that because new entrepreneurs start without very much of anything.

If we don't have the people who are in the ecosystem willing to help them at all, this ecosystem itself becomes very inward looking instead of very outward looking. I think that part of what makes Silicon Valley great is that it is constantly bringing new people into the ecosystem. We need a way to do that in a way that maintains the structure that you have that is also open and inviting. So this is a good tool for inviting new people into the system.

I think it's possible that you can have Silicon Valley type culture without pay it forward but I am not sure I would want to live in that ecosystem. That would be much more like the world of Wall Street where everybody is asking for things in exchange for whatever they do and keeping tabs on each other. That's a much more cut throat, dog eat dog world. I think what makes Silicon Valley so interesting is that despite the fact that people compete with each other, they are also more than willing to help each other there and I think that they do that because they realized it's good for the whole ecosystem. There's much more of this ecosystem is bigger than myself so I am going to contribute to it.

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