CoM Quote 4-17-23

How to surround yourself with “A-gamers” [Enrollment is OPEN!]

As a self-proclaimed “extreme introvert,” I’ve spent the majority of my career avoiding “people” as much as humanly possible.


If left to my own devices – whether editing, writing, podcasting, or developing the best cutting edge learning resources for creative minds like yours – I’d spend 100% of my time in the comfort of my small dark room mastering my craft.

If my only two choices were either:

  1. Meaningless small talk at random networking events, or
  2. Shoving hot sewing needles under my fingernails

I’d choose option #2 every single time.

HOWEVER…the #1 reason I’ve achieved the success I have in not one but three completely different industries:

  • As a Hollywood film & tv editor
  • As a podcaster & career strategist
  • As an American Ninja Warrior

is because I have surrounded myself with “A-gamers” and prioritized the skill of building relationships above all else.

As bestselling author and founder of CreativeLive Chase Jarvis shared in last week’s podcast interview:

“A-gamers work with A-gamers. B-gamers work with C-gamers. The best way to level up your own game is to level up the team around you.”

No matter the area I want to level up in my life next, my #1 strategy is to always be the WORST one in the room.

For example, in the last five years of training for American Ninja Warrior I’ve surrounded myself with some of the world’s most accomplished ninjas and fitness experts including ANW superstar Jessie Graff and Tony Horton, the creator of the P90X programs.


Needless to say, I’m usually the worst one at any given ninja workout. But if I set my ego aside, this has afforded me the opportunity to drastically shorten my learning curve and get better at this sport infinitely faster than if I surrounded myself with mediocre athletes at my level (or athletes even worse than I am…a rarity).

The trap we often fall into when building our networks is thinking we should only surround ourselves with those at our level (e.g. B-gamers surrounding themselves with B-gamers). The problem here is that our egos get in the way, and B-gamers often surround themselves with C-gamers because it boosts their egos, minimizes the likelihood of failure, and allows them to keep their raging imposter syndrome hidden in the closet.

As stated by the legendary Jim Rohn:

“You are the average of the five people you surround yourself with the most.”

I’ve always wondered…is this really true?

Or is it just a meaningless platitude worthy of nothing more than Instagram quote cards?

I recently did some deeper research to put this assertion to the test.

How Important Is the Quality of Your Network?

After doing some cursory research, it’s pretty clear that Jim Rohn was onto something when it comes to how the people you surround yourself with has a MASSIVE impact on who you become.

For example:

  • The New England Journal of Medicine examined the spread of obesity in social networks over 32 years. The study found that an individual’s risk of becoming obese increased by 57% if they had a friend who became obese, by 40% if they had a sibling who became obese, and by 37% if their spouse became obese.

Translation: If your health is a priority, surround yourself with other people who also prioritize their health.

  • According to a 2016 study conducted by LinkedIn – based on the data of over 45 million members in the United States – individuals who had more high-income connections in their network tended to have higher salaries themselves.
  • Furthermore, the study found that the strength of the connection between individuals was important. For example, individuals who had a closer relationship with a high-income connection, such as a colleague or mentor, tended to have a larger increase in salary compared to those who had a more distant relationship, such as a friend of a friend.

Translation: Having a strong network of quality relationships (with people working on bigger projects making more money than you) can have a tremendous impact on your own income.

But here’s the study that really blew me away:

  • The Harvard Study of Adult Development followed 724 men over the course of 75 years (75 years!!!) starting in their teens and early twenties. They found that the quality of relationships was the strongest predictor of overall happiness and well-being. Those who had close relationships at age 50 were more likely to be physically active and maintain a healthy weight. By age 80, the men who had the strongest relationships were more likely to still be alive and in good health.

Translation: There is no better predictor of the overall quality of your life than the quality of your relationships.

Instagram quote card or not, it’s pretty obvious that we are indeed the average of the five people we surround ourselves with the most.

Is It Time to Level Up Your Network?

If you’ve realized the most important lever you need to pull to significantly move the needle in your creative career is surrounding yourself with the right people, I can help with that.

Enrollment is officially open for my brand new
👉 Build Your Dream Network Live Workshop*

*Use the coupon code SUBSCRIBER for $100 off either of the workshop bundles

When: Saturday, April 22nd
Time: 9:30am – 1:00pm* PT
Location: Via Zoom

*Plan for at least 90+ minutes of Hot Seats and informal Q&A after the formal workshop is complete. I’ll stick around until all of your questions are answered or I drop…whichever comes first!

! Early Registration Bonus !

If you register by midnight TONIGHT (Pacific time) you can apply for a 25 minute one-on-one networking strategy session with me.

In this bonus ‘Hot Seat’ session (at the end of the formal workshop, i.e. around 1:00pm-ish) I’ll help one person clarify their next steps for building their dream network. Maybe that will be you?

→ Click here to learn more and reserve your spot

In tomorrow’s email I’ll send more specifics about how this workshop can help you (in a single afternoon) go from “I have no idea who to connect with” to knowing how to build your dream network with people who can open career doors you never imagined possible.

Be well.
Zack Arnold
Creator, Optimize Yourself

Zack Arnold (ACE) is an award-winning Hollywood film editor & producer (Cobra Kai, Empire, Burn Notice, Unsolved, Glee), a documentary director, father of 2, an American Ninja Warrior, and the creator of Optimize Yourself. He believes we all deserve to love what we do for a living...but not at the expense of our health, our relationships, or our sanity. He provides the education, motivation, and inspiration to help ambitious creative professionals DO better and BE better. “Doing” better means learning how to more effectively manage your time and creative energy so you can produce higher quality work in less time. “Being” better means doing all of the above while still prioritizing the most important people and passions in your life…all without burning out in the process. Click to download Zack’s “Ultimate Guide to Optimizing Your Creativity (And Avoiding Burnout).”