You Are the Company You Keep


November 17, 2010

** Special thank you to Rob Cottingham for the outstanding artwork.  If you’ve not seen his collection, please go to and check it out!

Growing up, I had parents who would steer me away from friends who had undesirable behavior.  Now that I’m a mom, I find myself doing the same thing with my children. Why?  Today’s lesson is a simple one…  you are the company you keep.

  • If you surround yourself with people of good reputation, you will be viewed positively.
  • If you associate with accomplished professionals, you will pick up on what makes them successful.
  • If you affiliate with people who have good values, you will be perceived in the same light.

It frustrates me to see people who surround themselves with people of questionable character.  If you align yourself with people who are arrogant, rude, negative, unmotivated, or who lack a moral compass, you will be perceived similarly.  That is a FACT.

To bring some social media perspective to this, it also applies to your online relationships.  Late night host Jimmy Kimmel recently started a campaign for National Unfriend Day.  While I’m confident that the friends I keep online reflect the quality of people I associate with, I’m thinking this could be a good time for anyone who uses social media to take a hard look at the company they keep.

So, take a good look in the mirror today.  Then, take a look at your contacts online and in your day-to-day life.  If there are people of questionable character, now is your chance to unfollow, unfriend, or dis-associate from them.   You don’t have to associate with negativity.  After all, you ARE the company you keep.


  • I’m sorry, but I totally disagree with the above point. You don’t have to associate with negativity, but to cut yourself off from people like that creates a segregated and ghettoised society. With the above theory, Pro-Social Modelling wouldn’t exist. Having worked and associated for many years with the ‘Criminal Classes’ I don’t feel I have damaged or compromised my reputation. They have learnt from me and to a degree I have learnt from them. How I am percieved by others is down to how I conduct myself, not by who I know and work with. I have taken a long hard look in the mirror mentioned and I like myself better for not having distanced myself from people who may be deemed ‘of questionable character’

    Kind regards.

    • @Matt- All valid points. It’s a personal choice. I also think it is different if your associations with what you call “criminal classes’ is from a working perspective vs. you hanging with a crowd of criminals on your personal time. That is what I was getting at. Like it or not, if I spent all my personal free time hanging out with people who are committing crimes, being violent, using drugs, or other negative behavior, people would perceive me to be the same way. If your job is to work with people who have committed crime, that is completely different. Glad you weighed in!! 🙂

  • I try and separate my personal and professional lives. Everything is compartmentalised, and I will not mix business with pleasure. I also will not put a public profile that can be commented upon or changed by others. In essence, I will only put out content I have 100% control over.

    People blur this line too much when having a social media page. The chief reason that I do not have a Facebook page is that my personal, professional, people from my past (okay- possibly a bad apple or two) and family end up intertwined. I want none of that. I don’t want to be judged by who I hang with now or who was in my past.

    I feel that my twitter page doesn’t really have much of a reflection of who I am. I have a bit of everyone there. The only thing you could surmise is that I like HR people and Motley Crue!!! I admit to mainly following entertainers…

    As unfair as the assessment you present is, it’s the bloody truth. This is one of the reasons why I am just not sold on social media the way it has become. If I ever have a Facebook account again, I will make it clear that family and friends are UNWELCOME. It will only be to promote business.

  • Trish – if you wanted to unfriend me, all you had to do was click the link on my facebook profile. You didn’t need to write a blog post about me 🙂

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About Trish

A former HR executive and HCM product leader with over 20 years of experience.





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