The future belongs to networks. Therefore only work in a network business or a not-for-profit network.



The future belongs to networks.  Therefore only work in a network business or a not-for-profit network.

Networks thrive on positive feedback – the famous get more famous, the rich get richer, leading companies become virtual monopolies, and the skilled specialist goes further and further ahead of her less experienced rivals.

Networks exhibit galloping 80/20.  Network business comprise a small proportion of total businesses; yet they generate most of the money to be had in business.  If you work exclusively in network businesses, you will have a head start, a lead lengthened each year by the march of the 80/20 future.

Head start or albatross.  Your choice.


Within the universe of network businesses, you could choose to join one of the established winners at the center – Amazon, Google, Facebook, Uber, or the like.  But that would not be smart. You would arrive at the party far too late to have much fun.

The best type of business to join is one that has just started, yet is already growing exponentially.  That way you and your abilities will blossom in parallel – another little positive feedback mechanism. Nobody knows what they are doing and it is exhilarating to test what works best and to learn ahead of anyone else.

It is not just about money. The most fun I ever had has been in very small, very fast-growing companies – BCG, Bain & Company, LEK Consulting, Belgo, Betfair, and now Auto1.  There is something about growth of 40 to 300 per cent per annum that makes you feel on top of the world.  Such companies know something that other firms do not, and the personal growth and gratification from being part of a wildly expanding team has to be experienced to be understood.

Join an outfit with fewer than a hundred employees, increasing revenues by at least 30 per cent a year – ideally fewer than twenty people and at least doubling each year.

3: Only work for an 80/20 Boss

What is an 80/20 boss?  By their works shall you know them:

  • They focus on very few things – the ones that make a BIG difference.
  • They are going places fast.
  • They are rarely short of time, and never flustered. They are relaxed and happy.
  • They look to their people for a few valuable outputs. They don’t heed inputs such as time and sweat.
  • They take time to explain what they are doing, and why.
  • They encourage you to focus on what delivers the greatest results with the least effort.
  • When they trust you, they leave you alone, and encourage you to come to them when you need guidance.

The 80/20 boss is a role model for you.  If you perform well for them, they’ll give you unusual responsibility, far more than a normal boss would ever contemplate.  If you screw up they won’t blame you, but rather themselves for giving you too much rope.  If you do well they will give you even more responsibility, so that you take on more and more of their own job.  They will teach you to do the same for the people working for you.

When the 80/20 boss gets promoted, so will you.  If they move to another firm, they’ll likely take you with them.

Anyone who is really successful has had an 80/20 boss at some stage – whatever the field, whether in business, sport, entertainment, the media, academia, whatever.

To gain momentum in any field is hard, but to use momentum is easy.  So use your boss’s momentum before you generate your own.

It is far easier to rise in the slipstream of someone going places fast, than it is to create your own head of steam.  So, initially, who you work for is more important than what you do.  It’s very largely about the boss.

Do you have an 80/20 boss?

If not, get one pronto.

4: Find Your 80/20 Idea

A great company is totally different from any other, and so is the idea behind it.  The idea offers customers an unbeatable price, or else an unbeatable product or service.  The idea delivers more for less.  It is an 80/20 idea.

80/20 ideas are not confined to business.  Behind every great cause, every social movement, every successful organization, there lurks a great 80/20 idea – something that explodes because it offers a fantastic result for relatively little energy.

In my lifetime the US Civil Rights movement and the liberation of all South Africans from the evil of apartheid led to incalculable good with almost none of the terrible downside forecast by segregationists. Joining any cause for truth and beauty is one of the best things any of us can do.  Such causes are quintessentially 80/20, giving immense advantages not only to the oppressed, but also to the liberators and truth-tellers.  Nothing can make you feel better than a struggle for justice with real identified beneficiaries.

If you want to be happy and a force for good, then, at every stage of your life and career, be part of a group advancing an 80/20 idea – one giving citizens or customers a richer life with little use of life energy and other finite resources.

5: Become joyfully, usefully unique

The 80/20 future has no place for people who are pegs, whether round pegs in square holes or round pegs in round holes.  There are no holes, there are no roles, which do not feature you at the center, with a network radiating out from you.  For those of us who used to look to organizations for something to do with our lives, this is quite a shift in landscape.

Make no mistake.  The 80/20 future requires and rewards individuality.  The 80/20 future does not reward hard work, conformity, diplomacy, compromise, and all the other desiderata that good employees have been trained to show.  Instead, the 80/20 future rewards the unique innovator.

At any time, we may stumble across a breath-taking 80/20 formula for our lives which allows us to spend them doing what we enjoy.  We are more likely to do this if we think the right way and keep searching for our unique destiny.  Keep this motto in front of you – BECOME UNIQUE USEFULLY AND JOYFULLY.  We make the world better when we cultivate our individuality to attain results which are fantastic for our customers and those around us.

This blog post is partly based on a chapter in the new third edition of The 80/20 Principle, about which Tim Ferriss has said, ‘Read this book and use it.’  The book has sold more than a million copies and been translated into almost forty languages.


Image credit – Pixabay





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