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Head of customer experience, Bambora, North America

Five years ago, I was offered a job to turn around a startup in Silicon Valley. I'd never set foot in San Francisco, the role wasn't posted, and I didn't know the team.

How did this happen?

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People in my life believed in me, and put my name in the ring. This wasn't a one-time experience; it has been a theme throughout my career. The people I know have been essential to my growth as a leader – and as a human.

But fostering relationships is easier said than done. I am sure we've all heard the classic "go for a coffee" approach, but those rarely develop into meaningful relationships. People can sense when you want something a mile away. It doesn't work.

And we can't rely on the corporate ladder. People on average stay at their jobs for less than four and a half years. That means we'll have roughly 15 to 20 jobs throughout our lifetime. Even more impressive is that most of our children (65 per cent) will end up in jobs that haven't been invented yet.

Having the right credentials on your résumé won't matter if you don't have people who believe in you. By focusing on the "people path," your career (and life) will go places you never imagined.

So, how do you start?

Time is your most precious resource

This is true for everyone, so surround yourself with people who inspire you. This isn't always easy, and you need to be picky.

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You're an average of the top five people you spend the most of your time with, says author and podcaster Tim Ferriss. You may need to say goodbye to friends and relationships that aren't serving you before you find ones that are. That's okay.

Be bold and be brave. Good things will happen if you create time and space for them.

Find your community, and you will find your mentor

Like any relationship, looking for a formal mentor or adviser rarely works. Your mentor isn't waiting for you at the next "find your mentor" workshop – they are out in the world doing cool things.

How do you find them?

Start exploring the things you love, and you'll find them organically.

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One of the best ways to expedite this process is to join communities that inspire you. For me, that was ACTAI Global, Daybreaker, Techstars and Burning Man. My life will never be the same after joining these families, and for that I'm grateful. They've allowed me to meet, work with and be inspired by incredible humans. I've built meaningful relationships, learned from world-class mentors and grown my mindset to accomplish goals from my wildest dreams.

So, find your tribe and the rest will follow.

Hustle until you're part of the family

What happens when you find your tribe but can't get in? Some of the best communities can be hard to get into. Especially ones that foster amazing tribes. They know their values and bring like-minded people together, so they don't let everyone join.

The best way to start is by reflecting on who you are, what you want to contribute and how you want to grow. If you can't give more to a community than you take, you're probably not a good fit. And if you believe you can, then hustle hard until they also believe you.

That's what I did.

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Five years ago, I moved to the Caribbean to learn how to kitesurf while also building our startup. One of the best coincidences of my life is that MaiTai, a community on my dream list, had their summer event on the beach near my villa. I didn't get an invitation, but that didn't stop me from joining the closing party and having a lot of fun.

The following summer, I tagged along with my investor to kite before the same event. While I still wasn't invited, I pretended I was and, in addition to the closing party, I attended the full four days. By the next summer (probably because they figured I'd be there either way), I had an invitation. By that time, I was part of the community, which has evolved into ACTAI Global.

So, find your tribe and don't say no until you're part of the family.

Choose the people path

Steve Jobs said you can only connect the dots of your life moving backward. What you can do moving forward is to make a choice: You can choose your people path. Invest time in fostering relationships, finding your community and hustling to be with people who inspire you.

Once you start focusing on your people path, you may be surprised where your journey takes you. Last year, I was bootstrapping a startup in Silicon Valley, and today I'm the head of customer experience for a fintech company that was just acquired for $1.75-billion (U.S.).

Your people are out there. Go find them.

Executives and human-resources experts share their views and advice about leadership and management in the ongoing Leadership Lab series.

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