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Your Life is Driven by Network Effects

https://www.nfx.com/post/your-life-network-effects

nfx.com

Your Life is Driven by Network Effects
What city you live in. Who you date or marry. Which job you choose. What clothes you wear.We all think we make these choices ourselves. It certainly feels like we're in full control. But it turns out that our choices - both in our startups and in our lives - are more constrained than we think.

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Network Effects

Network effects are the unseen forces that are guiding our destiny and exerting a powerful intervention on our lives, creating energy that escorts us down a path that is not always fully our intention.

90 percent of these network forces are established in 7 major life events or crossroads, which compound over time: Our Family, High School Network, College Network, First Job, Marriage, Our City, Reassessments.

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    Zipf's Law

    Zipf's Law

    Zipf's law is a mathematical probability that states that in a given set, the most frequently used data value (or word) is used twice as often as the next most common value. This is true in various statistical sets like income distribution in companies, internet traffic, phone calls received, and language.

    One of the implications of this law is there are unconscious network forces and mathematical patterns governing our lives, with human beings just being nodes exchanging information.

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    Dinner Party Mathematics

    When six to eight people are conversing at a dinner party, it is easy to focus on one conversation, but if the number is higher (say 15), then two-way conversations are more likely.

    When groups get larger, the change is exponential, not linear, affecting one's social experience.

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    Six Degrees Of Separation

    Six Degrees Of Separation

    The Six Degrees Of Separation theory states that there are a maximum of six degrees (or layers) of separation between any two people in the world. This is now verified by social media connections (like Facebook).

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    Five conditions of Network Forming

    We all are interacting with our layers of connections, and five conditions (catalysts) contribute to forming our network:

    • Frequent and repeated interactions withing new groups of people
    • A high degree of overlapping of relationships in new groups
    • When people are changing and evolving their identity
    • A high density of people (Network Proximity)
    • Handling a difficult challenge or situation together

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    Network Levels

    There are three major Network Levels:

    • Physical Network: Our core network.
    • The People Network: Our school, college, company, and social get-together network.
    • The Digital People Network: LinkedIn, Facebook

    Dunbar's Law, which is based on the brains 'node' structure, states that humans tend to interact most with 5 family members, 15 intimates, 50 acquaintances, and 150 total familiar people that we see on a regular basis.

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    Family

    We don't get to choose this fundamental layer of our network topology.

    Families and extended families are uniquely influential in shaping our networks, and we tend to adopt our cosmological views, dietary preferences, religious, linguistic dialect, and worldview from them.

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    High School

    Our high school isn't usually one's choice, and are the first peer network that one has to deal with.

    High Schools work on popularity and status, and a constant game of winning and losing is played among teenagers, shaping their future life. Certain other factors like school size, locality, diversity, and the level of academic success determine our network.

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    College

    Your college network can have an exponential impact on your life and opens up ideas, relationships, jobs, aspirations, attitudes, and resources, setting a virtuous circle in motion.

    College also influences where you live, and who you end up dating (or marrying). The four years spend with people your age, result in repeated interactions forming lasting bonds.

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    The First Job

    Our professional relationships during our first years of work are the seed of our professional network, influencing the arc of our career.

    Normally we pick the highest paying job, but if we think of networks as a form of wealth, our first job should be with people whose career path we want to follow.  As high achievement is communicable through word of mouth in the network, and innovation is contagious, it pays to be with the right people.

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    Marriage/Life Partner

    Choosing a life partner is one of the most important decisions one makes and can be one's joy or suffering. When we are marrying we are adding a whole new network to our existing network, and it affects not only us but our future generations.

    Extremely close friends are poor network nodes for marriage due to a network overlap effect, making your weaker ties more vital. Acquaintances become a bridge between two network clusters, exposing people to new ideas, beliefs, and lifestyles.

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    Where We Live

    Cities and our neighborhood are our most readily available, fully functioning networks, both physically and socially. Everything flows out of our city: our job, spouse, income, friends, and new opportunities.

    Cities naturally have a higher rate of social interactions, and human networks within the city are formed using offline 'clubs' and social events and also online tools that facilitate offline networking.

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    Reassessments

    At any point in time, one can forcibly make a change. Changing one's surroundings and the resulting network has a big effect on one's self-transformation and lives.

    Our networks, build of people we care about and those who care for us, are our most valuable resource, making us express our lives.

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    Jobs: Now

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    • Warren Buffet, Chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, is a well-known investor and a vocal champion of personal development.

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