The New Pareto Principle

At 52, you’d have thought I’d have learned a thing or two by now… but sometimes I can be so slow!  During the process of my first guitar lesson for years, Johnny Moore and I got chatting about the importance of “Whom You Know” over the baseline of “What You Know”.

“What You Know” is vital – if it’s lacking, it is, in fact what Zenger and Folkman call a “fatal flaw” – the missing foundation that causes the whole mighty edifice to fall.  With this in mind, I’ve spent my life learning “stuff” and tweaking my knowledge until what I offer is the best I can make it.  I’ve gained a lot of satisfaction from this approach.  I have to acknowledge, however, that there are equally a lot of people out there who don’t seem to care, and yet are a lot more financially successful.

When Johnny and I were chatting, it finally dawned on me.  Life is about “The New Pareto Principle”.  Vilfredo Pareto, in 1906, observed that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the populace.  He also discovered that 20% of his garden pea pods contained 80% of his pea harvest!  From this has developed the so-called “Pareto Principle” where we may find that 20% of our activities give us 80% of our yield.  For example, many companies will get 80% of their business from 20% of their client base.  This is now a Law, because it is not rigidly true, but it is a useful principle.

The United Nations Development Programme Report (1992) showed that 20% of the World’s richest people controlled 82.7% of the World’s Wealth!  (See:

Nowadays, I am meeting an ever increasing number of age 50+ people who know a lot!  However, their former successes are eluding them now, and nobody seems to want to employ them in spite of their wealth of experience.  For them (and me), there is no fatal flaw of lack of knowledge.  The “What You Know” foundation is well laid.  The Big Issue is “Whom We Know”… or don’t.

This is why Social Media, Networking, just getting out and meeting people is increasingly important.  Most of us are very good at building a few strong, loyal relationships, but this isn’t the best strategy anymore.  If you want to succeed you need a lot of weaker relationships – quantity over quality.

This spreads your net(work) wide, and catches more proverbial fish.

Ecclesiastes 11:1-2

Ecclesiastes 11:1-2

In fact, we may dare to suggest that 80% of your future business will come from 20% of What You Know, and 80% of Whom You Know.  Which means that whomever you meet today is more important than you may ever have realised…

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