Surround yourself with people not like you

I had an interesting chat the other day with an incoming student at Columbia. We talked a lot about friend groups and who you “jam” with. Talked about things like interests and who you surround yourself with. Thinking about the mantra how you are the sum product of your 5 closest friends. Kind of interesting.

Anyways, the climax of our conversation came to an interesting conclusion:

It’s comfortable to hang out with people that are most like you. Yet, you should do the opposite if you want to learn.

It is really easy to talk about things that you are familiar with. Following suit, it is easier to hang out with people that are most like you because you share interests and can talk about the same things. Hell, it’s comfortable! And that can breed some great conversations, ideas, companies, whatever — it’s fun.

But when you are optimizing for learning, you should purposefully talk to people that are unlike you. People that do not understand things you are talking about…Sounds kind of weird…but it is super valuable.


  1. It is one of the best ways to improve your communication skills. Try explaining things that people do not at first understand. That is one of the greatest ways to understand social dynamics and communication in general. Super important skill.
  2. You get exposed to things you may not know about. And this is a great way to learn new topics and concepts and start exploring new paths to happiness and fun!
  3. You can help other people. diversity brings new ideas and adding your perspective to a new pool can really help people out!

Anyways, push yourself out of your comfort zone, on purpose. (if you are optimizing for learning).

tweet me @jrdngonen or email me




think for yourself. views mine.

Love podcasts or audiobooks? Learn on the go with our new app.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store


think for yourself. views mine.

More from Medium

The 1 Reason Most First Time Entrepreneurs Fail

Is Planning good or Is Starting and Doing better?

Unemployment to success.

Five Tips for a Good Night’s Sleep When Work is on Your Mind