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"Surround yourself with smart people," a smart friend recently said. That is, if you enjoy learning, boosting your intelligence and finding your way through a successful career.

This suggestion jogged the memory of a prophetic phrase I read some time ago.

"You are the summation of the five people you surround yourself with most." Let me rephrase it in more absorbable terms. Your personality, aspirations and skills are a reflection of the five people with whom you spend the most time.

Of course, bear in mind there are those who haven't had time to acquire "smarts," yet require a lot of your time. Those are the wee-ones who are just learning to color inside the lines or perhaps drive a car – but they have their part in our lives, like teaching us patience. They remind us that not everyone thinks as we do, and that our communication lines need to be open to every sort of intellect, or lack thereof.

So, for all intents and purposes of this article, we shall stay focused on our choice of friends, colleagues and other things in the sphere of influence in which we surround ourselves. Lately, I’ve become friends with a daily e-mail newsletter, Early To Rise, which offers expert and intelligent articles about becoming healthy, wealthy and wise. They publish smart and practical examples of what to do and where to find success. Best of all, it is free.

Apart from my daily dose of ETR, the source of intelligence I find myself most with is, of course, my husband. Naturally he is smart – he asked me to marry him. We share intelligent conversations about life and family matters. I also share similar conversations with my father, who has become a great friend, now that I am older and can appreciate parenthood. He is wise, understanding and retired, which means he has a lot of time to devote to advising his daughter long-distance over the phone.

The last two sources of intelligence are business associates with whom I work. Both successful in their own right. Internationally known, one a motivational speaker, Michael Angelo Caruso and the other, Sam Garcia, publisher of, a respected and well-read publication. Though I don’t spend a lot of time "with" them, I spend time reading, proofing and writing intelligent information because of them.

Those are the five people and sources of information that I surround myself with daily. It would be very different if I worked in an office outside of my home, I am sure. For most people, that is the case. So what five influences do you have in your life?

Please do not say you are searching for success while spending a majority of your time with the office gossiper, the guy who lives for the weekend binging drink fest, or negative Nelly who is always bringing you down. I’m not saying you should forsake any one person, but lessen your time with them and gravitate towards those who have your mindset.

If you are at a loss for smart people to associate with at the moment, remember, books can be your friends, too. When in need of a pick me up, I resort to my library. I can spend time with Zig Ziglar, Donald Trump or even Warren Buffet.

Indeed, you are the summation of the five people or information sources you are surrounded by the most.