“Tell me who your friends (advisors, employees,…) are and I will tell you who you are”….

“Tell me who your friends are and I will tell you who you are” is an old saying that has some real truth to it – but it is not only valid for your private life but might also be a very useful guideline for professional situations. Interpret it in the broadest possible sense and it might help you evaluate people and opportunities very quickly:

  • I found that one of the strongest indicators of a founder’s / CEO’s talent is his ability to attract top-notch talent very early on. So if you are considering joining or investing in a start-up, I would do a lot of due diligence on the quality of the team, especially its key members.
  • Same holds for advisors that are associated with the company you are looking at – do they have really smart, respected and committed advisors or is it the same list of advisors you have seen at many other start-ups who are lending their name for a few percent?
  • And what other start-ups is the CEO / founder close with and being considered a respected peer?

So the next time you have to evaluate a person, focus less on university degrees and past professional experiences and rather on the quality of people that this person is surrounding himself with – it might be the much more valuable signal!


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