Johnson Cook

Atlanta tech investor. Entrepreneur.

Johnson Cook - Atlanta tech investor. Entrepreneur.

Success by Association


One of the things my parents used to teach me is the concept of “guilt by association” … I remember them telling me that if I went with my friends and they robbed a bank, I would go to jail right along with them.

Since I’ve been paying more attention to the associations I join and the company I keep, I’ve also noticed a phenomenon in my own life I’ll call “success by association”  … or sometimes I think of it as “intensity by association.”  I don’t know about you, but when I’m around those really successful, really intense entrepreneurs and leaders, I can’t help but wanting to be a little like them.  I find that their tips on running their lives, their companies, their homes are always packed full of nuggets.


One successful entrepreneur I know told me once when I was complaining about being too busy to do new things that “Time is not a limiting factor. WE are a limiting factor. You are a limiting factor! There is always time for what you want to find time for.”  What I learned from that quote is that not having enough time will never be a valid excuse for anyone to not start a company, have quality time with their family, or do anything else. You have to control your time.

Here are some of the tips I give to college kids I mentor to help them associate up:

  • Try and notice when you enjoy being around folks who make you feel successful, just because you’ve done more than they have – go find the people who make you feel lazy because they’ve already run 20 miles before your alarm goes off at 7:00am!
  • When hiring your team, keep this in mind: you want everyone on your team to be smarter, quicker, leaner, and meaner than even you are… this will drive you to be more like them… as long as you have the self-confidence to embrace this.
  • Find the formal associations (like Rotary, Young Entrepreneurs Council, Chambers of Commerce, Entrepreneurs Organization) where successful leaders spend their time. Be there with them. If they are there, it’s a sign that you should be there too.
  • Help out those who you admire, for no reason but to help them. Offer to help with their companies, make introductions to them, introduce them to sales opportunities, offer to assist with their favorite charities.


What else can you do to associate up?”

  • Jason Swenk says:


    I agree with you on time is not a limiting factor. I feel when most people say time is the limiting factor, they are stressed which means they are making things more important than they really are. I also feels it means you are scared to fail.

    I had an employee the other day that was very stressed and didn’t think he could do everything that he felt needed to be done.

    I asked him what he was worried and he rattled off an answer and then I asked him why on that answer and so on. At the end of the conversation we narrowed it down to failing.

    I then explained to him failure is a good thing and failure breads innovation and creativity. Think about Thomas Edison learning 1001 ways on how not to make a light bulb.

    Jason Swenk

    March 27, 2012 at 1:47 pm
  • Racheal Cook says:

    Great post Johnson! My dad said the same thing. We have some pretty awesome dads. :)

    March 29, 2012 at 12:34 am

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