New 80/20 Equation

Winners' Wisdom: By Jim Stovall

Most people have heard of the “80/20 Rule.” It usually refers to an inefficiency in business or in life. For example, when 80 percent of your customers produce only 20 percent of your profit or 20 percent of your students are causing 80 percent of the problems.

In recent years, we’ve all been concerned about the unemployment situation and have deep feelings of sympathy as well as empathy for those people who are out of work.

I heard a new 80/20 rule applied to the employment situation that says 20 percent of jobs come from ads, resumes, and traditional channels, but 80 percent of new employment opportunities come from people you know, or people who know people who refer prospects to employers, or refer prospective employers to new personnel.

I’m sure you’ve heard it said that, “It’s not what you know. It’s who you know.” This phrase is usually uttered by people who are lamenting the fact that others have the benefit of connections or contacts that they themselves don’t have. While it is true that not all networks are created equally, and some people—due to their family, past associations, or any number of circumstances—have access to countless people in their connections, it is not a permanent situation. You and I control who we meet and how we foster those relationships.

Some of the most accomplished people I know make it a point to meet a certain number of people each month and to stay connected to those people they already know several times a year. Relationships and networks are like bridges. Some bridges are just for pedestrians and bicycles while other bridges will carry large trucks and even trains.

Because of the advent and growth of social media, we have a tendency to lump everyone we’ve ever met and everyone they know into a group we call friends. While they may be your friend in an Internet or online context, they may not be someone who can or will help you when you’re out of work, need a business lead, or are looking for a special reference and introduction.

You can’t simply become a collector of business cards and call on people at will, expecting them all to act like your best friend or most treasured associates. If you and I are going to have friends and contacts that we can call on, we have to first become a friend and a contact that they can call on.

I have a valued friend and colleague in the speaking world named Greg Reid. Greg is extremely busy and is a master at connecting people for mutual benefit. He ends each of his calls and written communications with the powerful phrase, “Please let me know how I may be of service.” Greg doesn’t simply utter this like someone at the dry cleaner counter or check out aisle. He really means it and lives it.

As you go through your day today, remember: It’s both what you know and who you know, but we can control how much we learn and who we can meet.

Today’s the day! 

Jim Stovall is the president of Narrative Television Network, as well as a published author of many books including The Ultimate Gift. He is also a columnist and motivational speaker. He may be reached at 5840 South Memorial Drive, Suite 312, Tulsa, OK 74145-9082; by email at; or on Facebook at

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