How to Identify Your Personal Growth Network

by Shana Lynn Yao
CEO | Business & Personal Success Strategist
Total Genius™


"You become most like the 5 people you surround yourself with" said Jim Rohn. Is that true? Because if you're around a lot of random people on social media and in your life...are you destined to become them?

Who do you turn to when you are stuck? When you need good advice? When you need to be inspired? And when the people you've chosen to "surround yourself with" all seem better than you...


Jim Rohn is right - somewhat - but his quote has been widely misinterpreted. In today's day and age, with the proliferation of the internet, and the influx of the constant noise being thrown at us everyday, it becomes more important than ever to make clear decisions with who fills our "space" everyday.

NOT choosing your personal network or being aware of why it's important, keeps many small business owners stuck, feeling not good enough, and not understanding your unique and high value.


“I give up.” I’m on Facebook and the past 3 posts are from someone who made a million dollars...YESTERDAY.  And she’s totally smart and gorgeous, and doing exactly what I do – only seemingly 100x better than me.

I feel my heart beat faster, and this horrible anxiety feeling comes over me.  ”I’m such a _____________ (insert any derogatory, self-deprecating term here).”

When was the last time you went into the negative self-talk routine?  Did you know that fear and overwhelm over nothing are totally normal? And especially as an entrepreneur - when it's your job to do things you've never done before - our minds are actually designed to challenge our "positive mindset".   In fact, it’s so normal to be overwhelmed by just the story we create in our heads that it would actually inhuman to NOT occasionally experience a little stress and anxiety over it.

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase: “Fear is False Evidence Appearing Real”.  Fear is based on nothing real. It's caused by something tangible and specific – like giving a speech in front of a thousand people, or jumping off a cliff, OR it's an irrational fear – fear caused by nothing in particular.  It is brought up by self-doubt, irrational thoughts, and comparison of yourself to others.

The hard truth is, we, as humans cannot avoid fear and insecurity.  But that’s actually a good thing.  According to Deepok Chopra, we have 60,000 – 80,000 thoughts a day.   95% are the SAME thoughts we had yesterday (and the day before, and the day before). These thoughts happen in the “thinking brain”, or what I call your "stupid thinking brain.  This 3rd brain, the thinking brain, is where all of the naturally occurring emotional responses that happen and these bad and false stories are invented about them (cognitive dissonance). 

So if you find yourself thinking “I’m such a loser.” “I can’t do that!”  ”They are so much better than me.”  you have a choice to shut off that voice, and boost yourself up. This makes your personal team of support - your 5 most important people, more vital than ever to support your growth.


Everyone should have a Personal Growth Network - the 5 most important people in your entrepreneurial journey. I call these 5 people your "cheerleading squad".  This is more than just a fun metaphor.  Things like Irrational fear caused by some insecurity you are having, lack of motivation, lack of focus, and just general “bad days” happen.  They happen for people without businesses, and they happen more for growing entrepreneurs.  Everybody needs a support team, and the reality is, nothing stops that negative voice in your head like a good cheer from your team. 
Let's identify your own cheerleading squad. And as the CEO of your business, you are the captain and this is your squad:
1. You - The Captain of your team
2. Your Cheer Mentor
3. Your Cheer Friend
4. The Popular Girl
5. The Know It All
This is your internal cheerleader.  Your internal cheerleader rah-rah-sis-boom-bah’s for you whenever you need them to.
As an entrepreneur or solopreneur, you are it.  You don’t have a boss giving you a pat on the back, a bonus, or a raise for a job well done. The journey of the entrepreneur is one with a To Do and goal list that is endless, and an accomplishment list that pales in comparison.
But everyone needs support and encouragement – and while the big wins are obvious (financial, press-worthy, etc), the little ones (launching your new program, getting your website up, etc) become just another daily task. And the thing is, if you don’t encourage yourself and celebrate the small wins, it becomes increasingly harder to push forward when things get tough (and you know they will!)
So the best thing to do is to become captain of your own cheer squad. The captain of the team is the leader of their squad.  They know when there is a win, they need to celebrate.  When there is a fail, they need to pick up their team member and tell them everything is ok and to move forward.  The team captain leads her team through the ups and downs and knows that everyone is counting on her to step up. 
All cheer squads (the ones that compete in the big leagues) have a coach. This is someone you look up to that holds you accountable.  It can be an old boss, an acquaintance, or a coach you hire.  This person makes you step up to life.  They don’t feed your weakness (console you when you’re down, tell you everything is going to be alright).  This person asks: “What have you accomplished this week?” “You’re afraid you’re going to fail?  Find a way not to.”
This member of your cheer squad seems unsympathetic, but actually, it’s quite the opposite. This person actually knows what you are capable of and doesn’t want to see you give in to your excuses.  You need this person on your team to make you raise your standards.
Whether it is a coach you hire, or someone in your network who you look up to, this person is the one that will make you reach higher and accomplish things that fear may otherwise hold you back from doing.
This is your go-to mental support member of your squad.  This could be your mom or best friend. This is the person you cry to that will tell you everything will be all right.  Everyone needs this person but without the other members, this person is actually not your most important, because they don’t make you step up to overcome your fear.  They may actually make it worse by causing you to wallow in it.  But nevertheless, they are a good support system when all else fails.
The popular girl is the one that has the perfect hair, the perfect body, and never seems to make mistakes.  She’s always smiling and additionally, is unbelievably kind and generous.  The popular girl makes everyone want to be better, stand up straighter, and step up to owning their own worth.

This person is essential to your success.  In order to reach a level of success you’ve never achieved, you need to surround yourself with people that are at a higher level than you are at now.  These are people you will learn from, become energized by their raised vibration, and driven by their success and passion.

If you don’t have anyone in your life that is the popular girl, where can you network to find these people?  

*** The popular girl is probably NOT the person you want to be close friends with. After all, the popular girl loves the attention. This person may not have your best interest in mind :o Always evaluate your personal network on the person's INTENTION. Are they looking out for you? Or should you just observe from afar?

You know this person - the one who is OBSESSED with the tiny details. Just when you think it’s “good enough”, the know it all has to correct your form, give you the latest updates on how to do what you’re doing right.

She’s (in the end) right, but it’s the tiny details, the techy stuff you may not be focused on. 

The know it all is essential to achieving your highest success. She will watch over you. Tell you when you’re wrong :o, and sometimes hurt your feelings by accident.

The know it all is well intentioned but it’s like the annoying hair that keeps falling in your face. You have to get it out and pin it up right in order to make things better.


Build your cheer team.  Who in your life fills these roles?  And if you don’t have those people in your life now, who can you hire, network with, befriend?

1. YOU – The Captain (you’ve got that covered!)
2. Your Cheer Mentor

3. Your Cheer Friend
4. The Popular Girl

5. The Know It All


Conviction. Dogma. Credence. It’s the inner confidence you have and get when you know what you do in your business. A well positioned business is based on the solid foundation of YOU. Because of that, you know WHAT you do, WHO you do it for and HOW you do it. You don’t need to do it to gain the approval of others. You KNOW it works because it’s based on YOU.

Believing in yourself is NOT a sales tactic. But in fact, nothing sells like conviction. As the CEO of your personal brand, you set the tone for your ideal clients by positioning yourself as you want to be seen in their eyes. 


In business, It’s not about being better than the competition. It's not about trying to be everywhere. And it's not about being on Facebook and trying to get more "likes".

It’s about having a business that is positioned correctly, with a strategic marketing plan of action. A business that is based on your expertise and life experience, that supports what you STAND FOR, and ATTRACTS your ideal clients based on a purposeful strategy and system that works.

Ready to scale attract your tribe of loyal PAYING CLIENTS and build your business in a smart, strategic and purposeful way using positioning?

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Build Your Personal Growth Network

Shana Yao is CEO and Founder of TOTAL GENIUS™, where she works with high achieving entrepreneurs to discover your genius - the combination of your greatest strengths, talents, and life experience - to create a profit generating business based on your purpose, that fulfills your life and makes an impact on the world. She is an award-winning Business and Personal Success Strategist with over 28 years of experience managing multimillion dollar retail and shopping center locations, including the famed Rodeo Drive. 

In her signature program Discover Your Genius, Shana helps her clients achieve discover and empower their genius within. Using her knowledge of neuroscience, neuro-linguistic programming, positive psychology, emotional and positive intelligence, and high level business strategies, she works to develop her client’s unique vision by uncovering their purpose, their message, building their profit-generating signature program and putting their words into action on their website and in their customized marketing strategy. Schedule a chat to get your business and personal brand positioned to sell. 

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