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How to Create a Positive Peer Group with Jon Levy

Jon Levy is a behavioral scientist best known for his work in influence, human connection, and decision making. Jon specializes in applying the latest research to transform the ways companies approach marketing, sales, consumer engagement, and culture. His clients range from Fortune 500 brands, like Microsoft, Google, AB-InBev, and Samsung, to startups.

More than a decade ago, Jon founded The Influencers Dinner, a secret dining experience for industry leaders ranging from Nobel laureates, Olympians, celebrities, and executives, to artists, musicians, and even the Grammy winning voice of the bark from “Who Let the Dogs Out.” Guests cook dinner together, but can’t discuss their career or give their last name, and once seated to eat, they reveal who they are. Over time, these dinners developed into a community. With thousands of members, Influencers is the largest community of its type worldwide.

In his free time, Jon works on outrageous projects. Among them spending a year traveling to all 7 continents, or to the world’s greatest events (Grand Prix, Art Basel, Burning Man, Running of the Bulls, etc.) and barely surviving to tell the tale. These Adventures were chronicled in his first book: The 2 AM Principle: Discover the Science of Adventure.

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How do you create your own positive peer group?

There are many aspects that go into optimizing your brain health. A good brain diet, sleep, reducing and managing stress. But there’s one element that isn’t always given as much time and focus, and that’s how to create a positive peer group. 

You’ve likely heard the following phrases regarding personal development. Who you spend time with is who you become. You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. That’s because optimizing your brain health isn’t always about your neurological networks but your social networks as well. 

Today, we’re thrilled to talk to Jon Levy. He’s a behavioral scientist and award-winning author of his newest book; You’re Invited: The Art and Science of Cultivating Influence

Listen in, as Jon takes you through how to expand your social circle by creating meaningful relationships built on trust.

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" 'You can literally redefine any aspect of your life, with the people you connect with.'"


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Connecting Not Networking

  • It’s okay to admit that you don’t like networking.
  • In fact, researchers have found that there is an unconscious association between networking and the need to wash your hands.
  • The implication is that networking makes you feel dirty.
  • But what doesn’t make you feel dirty is making friends.
  • Think about what naturally causes people to become friends.
  • Even if you’re introverted, you still like having friends. You just likely prefer connecting with fewer people at a time.
  • Connecting doesn’t have to be massive dinner parties or hosting a huge event. It can be done on a small scale.
  • In fact, introverts tend to be really good at creating much deeper relationships, it’s almost your superpower. So lean into that.
  • On the other hand, extraverts may find it easier to cultivate more connections. This may make it appear that it’s easier for you. But it isn’t a contest.
  • Connections are what provide value in your life.

Finding Connections

  • Everybody wants to connect with more people.
  • You might think influential people are too busy.
  • The truth is, they want to connect with people who have something interesting to offer them.
  • In 1985, the average American had three friends besides family.
  • By 2004—less than a generation—that number was down to two.
  • This was before social media. Before technology.
  • Most of this was caused by people moving away from friends and family for work or school.
  • The number two greatest predictor of human longevity is close social ties.
  • Number one is social integrations—being part of a community.
  • There is a real risk in health, longevity, and quality of life when your connections are reduced.
  • It’s vital that you understand what causes you to connect with others. You might not have thirty years to develop trust or a sense of belonging. But having these deep ties is an essential predictor to your well-being.
  • As a species, humans aren’t the strongest. Or the fastest. But we are better than any other species at working together.
  • When you’re not in a community, or working with others, it’s common to get really lonely. Your brain sends a signal, saying you’re isolated and you’re probably not safe. It wants you to find people.

How To Build Connections

  • When you meet someone new, it’s a novel experience. The brain loves novelty. Besides rest and nutrition, novelty is a key component to neuroplasticity.
  • Most successful people don’t get to spend their time with other successful people. It’s spent with employees, such as their admins or assistants.
  • If you can create a culture where you bring other interesting people together, they will go out of their way to participate.
  • Jon goes to TEDtalks and doesn’t listen to the talks. He can listen to those online. He attends to interact with other industry leaders thinking about things in different ways.
  • When starting to network, remember, everyone starts somewhere. Every champion was once a beginner.
  • Jon remembers his first dinners were not filled with impressive groups of people.
  • Even though he describes it as a train-wreck, it was successful in other ways. The attendees were really involved and were invested in making it work.
  • This openness to disaster and being honest with his guests about it, created a series of vulnerability loops. Because he put himself out there, they responded with their own vulnerability and began sharing ideas.
  • You are far more likely to value what you help create.
  • Offer that same experience to people you want to network with.
  • Be vulnerable and allow them to do the same.
  • No matter how you choose to network, make sure you choose an activity you actually enjoy. Otherwise you’re going to want to stop.
  • Be open with the people you’re communicating with.
  • Ask them if they have ideas on how to make the event better.
  • Allow them to give you ideas on who to invite the next time.
  • Be relentless with invites.
  • Don’t assume people will be inaccessible or unapproachable. Or that they’ll say no.
  • Olympians, Nobel Laureates, other public figures often have public email addresses.
  • You can start by finding individuals who live in your area and go from there.
  • Make sure the event you invite these individuals to is interesting and novel. You want it to be something people can invest effort in and have fun doing.
  • Take risks. That vulnerability leads to trust.
  • If you feel alone on your journey, remember, everyone needs people to challenge them, encourage them, be kind to, cheerlead for, and to share ideas with.
  • If you haven’t found that person, be that person for someone else.
  • Invite them on this journey, because you never know the ripple effect that action will have.
  • You can redefine any aspect of your life based on the people you connect with. The people you surround yourself with will change you. Make sure you seek out people who will change you in ways you want to be changed.
  • One of the most important things you can do for your life and your learning, is engage with others.
  • Your life is worth living and it’s worth remembering, so curate these moments.
  • There’s a science to connecting, but it’s also an art.
  • Be sure to watch the extended episode on YouTube for even more on connecting, here.

Share With Us

  • Take a screenshot of this episode, tag us on social media (@JimKwik & @jonlevytlb), and tag one friend or person you want to connect with.
  • I’ll be reposting my favorites and will gift one lucky listener a copy of Jon’s new book.
  • Get Jon’s book, You’re Invited: The Art and Science of Cultivating Influence, here.
  • Connect with Jon and get tools and resources on how to connect. His website has a lot of the science behind connecting, as well as games to play to help get to know people better. Visit him, here.

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