The Power of Networks in Learning and Life Decisions


Hatched by Glasp

Aug 22, 2023

4 min read


The Power of Networks in Learning and Life Decisions


Learning is a lifelong process that continues even after formal education ends. However, not all methods of study are equally effective in retaining information. The Learning Pyramid model suggests that teaching others is one of the most effective methods, with individuals retaining nearly 90% of what they learn through teaching. This highlights the importance of network effects in the learning process.

Network effects, which also play a significant role in the success of companies, influence our individual lives in profound ways. The frequency of the words we use, the sizes of cities, income distributions, and even the number of phone calls we receive are all determined by underlying mathematical patterns. Zipf's Law, a power law that governs these patterns, suggests that systems optimize for efficiency, leading to distributions that follow this mathematical pattern.

Incorporating the principles of network effects into our decision-making processes can greatly impact the trajectory of our lives. By understanding the importance of networks, we can make more informed choices at crucial crossroads in our lives.

Crossroad #1: Family Network

The family network forms the fundamental layer of our network topology. Our family influences the networks we are exposed to and the opportunities we are presented with. Understanding the preferences and connections within our family network can guide our decision-making process. It is important to consider options that align with our core family network, as these choices are more likely to lead to success and fulfillment.

Crossroad #2: High School Network

High school networks play a significant role in shaping our identities and worldviews as young adults. The social hierarchy within high schools, often centered around popularity, highlights the importance of networks even at an early age. The size of the high school and the strength of alumni affinity can influence future networks, such as college, spouse, and job opportunities. Choosing a high school that aligns with our goals and values can have a lasting impact on our lives.

Crossroad #3: College Network

Choosing a college based on its network of students and the geographic network they inhabit can be more influential than the specific course of study or sports teams. Geographic density fosters frequent interactions and strengthens network bonds. Reputation, mutual affinity, and the likelihood of repeat interactions should be considered when selecting a college. The networks formed during college can shape our careers, beliefs, and relationships.

Crossroad #4: First Job

The professional relationships formed during our first job lay the foundation for our professional network. Opting for a job that aligns with our desired network can have a greater impact on our skillset, earning potential, and career trajectory than other factors such as job description or income. Working with individuals whose career paths we admire can lead to valuable network connections and exposure to innovation.

Crossroad #5: Marriage and Life Partner

Our choice of a life partner is heavily influenced by our existing networks. Shared connections and mutual affinity play a significant role in forming strong bonds. Considering the networks of potential partners and evaluating their compatibility with our own networks can contribute to successful and fulfilling relationships.

Crossroad #6: Where You Live

The location we choose to live in can have a profound impact on our networks and opportunities. Cities act as networks themselves, facilitating network formation through physical and social proximity. The size of the city, the similarity of its inhabitants, and the opportunities it offers can shape our networks and influence our careers, friendships, and overall quality of life.

Crossroad #7: Reassessments

Throughout our lives, it is essential to reassess our networks and consider joining new ones that align with our evolving goals and aspirations. Changing our networks can be a powerful way to change ourselves and our life paths. Recognizing the value of our existing networks and nurturing those relationships can lead to long-lasting happiness and fulfillment.


The power of network effects cannot be underestimated in both the learning process and our life decisions. By understanding the impact of networks and incorporating network thinking into our decision-making processes, we can make more informed choices that align with our goals and aspirations. Here are three actionable pieces of advice to consider:

  • 1. Embrace Teaching and Peer Learning: Actively engage in teaching others as a way to deepen your own understanding and retention of information. Join study groups and participate in discussions to enhance your learning experience.
  • 2. Choose Your Networks Wisely: Consider the networks associated with each major life decision, such as family, education, and career. Opt for options that align with your core networks to maximize your chances of success and fulfillment.
  • 3. Foster and Nurture Relationships: Recognize the value of your existing relationships and invest time and effort into strengthening them. Cherish the people in your life and be aware of the networks you are a part of.

By harnessing the power of networks, we can navigate through life with a greater understanding of the forces that shape our experiences and opportunities. Network effects are not just limited to companies; they are a fundamental aspect of our lives, guiding us towards our own version of success and fulfillment.

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