Greek founders are my tribe

With our bodies hemmed in, our minds have only the cloud — and it is the cloud that has become the destination for an extraordinary mental exodus.

These are the words of Balaji Srinivasan, one of the entrepreneurs and thinkers I most admire.

Growing up in Sparta (yes, that Sparta) and the capital, Athens, it was technology that attracted my curiosity. I studied Computer Science and the brightest of my fellow students headed into academia, while the rest drifted into engineering or management gigs at frankly uninspiring local companies.

I had no interest in spending my life in the ivory tower of a university department. But I wasn’t pulled towards a corporate career either. The prevailing culture at the time wasn’t about creativity it was about gaming the system: taking grants or public sector projects. Back in 2005, while my fellow students started their working lives I felt stuck.

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Rule 2: Our Network shapes us

When the people you are connected to become better connected, it reduces the number of hops you have to take from person to person to reach everyone else in the network. You become more central.

Did you ever wonder how is it possible for some entrepreneurs to start a company, raise money asap and have huge exits within a few years or even months? First of all, this is a rare case. It shouldn’t be your benchmark. Let’s move on to see why this is doable for some and let’s be straight up front: it’s not about deep knowledge, inspiring leadership & perfect execution skills. You can find thousands of people with all or some of these traits. Perhaps you can find the sharpest operators in Germany or Japan, the most inspiring leaders in the world of sports and many academics with deep knowledge, teaching in universities all around the world.

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Rule 1: We shape our Network

Humans deliberately make and remake their social networks all the time. The primary example of this is homophily, the conscious or unconscious tendency to associate with people who resemble us (the word literally means “love of being alike”). But we also choose the structure of our networks in three important ways.

In the previous post, I explained how in 2009 the Greek startup enthusiasts created a new network around entrepreneurship. Essentially, we practiced homophily, as described above. Through that network we met our cofounders, our investors.

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