Skip links

The power of the ‘dark net’

What is it that gives self-made billionaire entrepreneurs their edge?


As I spend time this year ON my business, not in it, I’m fascinated by what these entrepreneurs have in common, who they hang with and how they think.

Luck plays a part, yes. In the entertainment game, I know being in the right place at the right time helps but hard work and determination separate the haves from the have nots. Fortune favours the brave.

Have you noticed that many of the successful game changers work with the same people over and over in their careers?

In the world of technology, you can see this significantly. Oracle, Netscape, PayPal etc. Each of these companies has spawned new multi-billion dollar enterprises as a result of former employees starting new companies together, advising each other, investing in each other.*

Apparently these long-term, collaborative networks are often referred to as mafias. Reid Hoffman, founder of LinkedIn, and part of the PayPal mafia, says these types of relationships are critical for the success of his career and suggests we all do it too.

He says that in this information age, one of the best ways to get information is not from just being better at searching Google, it’s from learning how to build a network and get the information you need through that network.

Isn’t this what they should teach our kids in schools?

Networking is everything.

Surrounding yourself with people you admire and want to be like is where it’s at. People buy people.

Elon Musk and Silicon Valley tell us AI is going to take over the world; even white-collar jobs we know like lawyers, accountants and bankers are going to become extinct. My kids’ Principal gave a lecture at school last week about how they’re going to try to prepare the students and their curriculum for this unpredictable world ahead.

Yet, as a guy who is in the business of helping people feel present to the magic of being alive, I find it heartening to know the advice from self-made billionaire Hoffman is still that PEOPLE matter.

**He explains the power of what he calls the ‘dark net’ – information that is not searchable online, in any book, in any classroom, and never will be:

“Ten extremely informed individuals who are happy to share what they know with you when you engage them can tell you a lot more than a thousand people you only know in the most superficial way.”

Hoffman explains that talking to people who have accomplished what you want to accomplish is extremely valuable and will help you think independently. The ‘dark net’ includes people’s lessons learned, topics that are too sensitive to talk about because they make someone look bad, and unspoken knowledge (knowledge that people have but aren’t able to articulate).

I started Tenors Incognito in 2000 in London with the premise: ‘surround yourself with people better than you’ and employed the guy playing the Phantom in The Phantom of the Opera, and ‘Tony’ in West Side Story to get my dream off the ground. That ‘Tony’ became the Creative Director of our business, the incomparable Tim Rogers, and we’re still melting hearts and blowing minds together in 2017.

No matter what’s going on with technology in this ever-changing world, never underestimate the power of community. Cool people meeting cool people. Put the device down and talk to real people. Build your network. Ask questions. Be interested.

Let’s never lose focus on our humane ability to learn, be inspired, motivate and make a difference with each other and subsequently change the world through our hearts, not just technical brilliance.

Last week I was in the beautiful Hawkes Bay, NZ singing at a big 50th birthday bash for a much loved successful family and business man who embodied this idea of valuing long term relationships. It was evident by the roomful of varied wise and wonderful people, and the heartfelt comments made, that he had built deep and authentic relationships over his career to date, working and playing with the same people over and over – and this was a huge part of his commercial and personal success.

If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with others . – African Proverb

**SOURCE: This Week In Startups, video interview with Reid Hoffman, founder of LinkedIn. *Article by Michael Simmons.


Leave a comment

This website uses cookies to improve your web experience.