When I became an entrepreneur, the smartest thing I did was creating a group of fellow young entrepreneurs called Fresh Founders. Over the years, we’ve helped each other build our companies and the community. In the process, we’ve become good friends. For example, Tobi Lütke started Shopify in his basement and built it into one of Canada’s most valuable companies. Now Tobi helps the next generation of entrepreneurs.


Researchers have confirmed that friendship has life-changing benefits:


It’s the friends that you can call up at 4 a.m. that matter.

-Marlene Dietrich


Social modeling

People naturally mimic friends. Hundreds of studies have shown that peers influence behaviors such as eating, exercise, drug use, and achievement.


Therefore, choose friends who pull you up rather than drag you down. Here are proven characteristics of great friends:


You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.

-Jim Rohn


How do I identify great friends?

Intelligence is the ability to deal with complexity. Assess it by asking someone to explain a complex topic in a simple way. Then ask hypothetical questions to test for understanding.


Here is an example:


Conscientiousness is a personality trait for being organized, responsible, and hardworking. It’s related to grit, perseverance, and delay of gratification.


To assess integrity, ask others how the person would behave if given an unethical opportunity. For example, would this person tell a lie to get a $20,000 commission?


Emotionally intelligent people are aware of emotions. They’ll say things such as: “You seem sad today, are you okay?” or “You look frustrated, can I help?”


Finally, happy people make you feel happy. A Harvard study found that happiness was contagious—people were 25% more likely to be happy when a close friend was happy.


In looking for people to hire, you look for 3 qualities: integrity, intelligence, and energy. And if they don’t have the first, the other two will kill you.

-Warren Buffett


Avoid the unhappy and the unlucky. People who are perpetually miserable spread misery like an infection, and they’ll drown you in it. Avoid these people like the plague. Conversely, if you associate with happy people, you’ll share in the good fortune they attract and spread. Seek them out.

-Robert Greene


Getting great friends

Here is a system:


The asset I most value, aside from health, is interesting, diverse, and long-standing friends.

-Warren Buffett


Become worthy

Homophily is the tendency to form relationships with people like you. For example, top students are usually friends with top students. Therefore, if you want great friends, become a great friend. Start with the chapters on “Time management” and “Happiness”.


Also, researchers found that women preferred friends who shared feelings and provided emotional support. In contrast, men preferred friends who were smart, fit, and rich.


Networking is overrated. Become first and foremost a person of value and the network will be available whenever you need it.

-Naval Ravikant


Go where they are

People often make friends where they spend time. This is school in early life, workplace in middle age, and volunteering in old age. Amazing people gravitate to the best schools, companies, and organizations. They also tend to live in bigger cities.


The large towns and especially London absorb the very best blood from all the rest of England; the most enterprising, the most highly gifted, those with the highest physique and the strongest characters go there to find scope for their abilities.

-Alfred Marshall


Ask for referrals

Yossi Vardi is an entrepreneur and investor who helped build Israel’s famous high-tech industry. I once attended a talk where Vardi shared one of his secrets: he recruited the smartest kids and co-located them in a start-up incubator. I asked Vardi how he discovered them. The answer? Ask other smart kids.


Tap into people’s social networks by saying: “I’m looking for new friends and mentors. Do you know anyone interesting? Would you be willing to introduce me?”


Invest time

When you click with interesting people, schedule a follow-up meeting. And then schedule one after that. Researchers estimate it takes 200 hours of shared activities for someone to become a good friend.


We rule out people 90% of the time. Maybe we’re wrong sometimes, but what’s important is the ones we let in.

-Warren Buffett


Personal notes

I’ve learned the hard way that low-integrity friends are bad for my life. Now, I quickly cut out negative people. This makes me happier and frees time for positive people.


If I’m doing business with somebody and they think in a short-term manner with somebody else, then I don’t want to do business with them anymore. All benefits in life come from compound interest, whether in money, relationships, love, health, activities, or habits. I only want to be around people I know I’m going to be around for the rest of my life.

-Naval Ravikant



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