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The Secret Advantage of Peer Pressure

When you’re a kid they warn you about “peer pressure.” I remember being very concerned about this.

One day a kid would come up to me and ask me to do drugs. And I’d be like “NO!” and make my 4th-grade class proud!

I was a cute little 4th grader.

Margo as a 4th-grader

As you know from your own life, the problem here isn’t drugs and actual peer pressure doesn’t work like this. (How nice if it did?)

It’s way more insidious.

It creeps up on you without your consent, like, when you’re at school and out of nowhere, you realize you’re dressed wrong.

I’ve read a million books that tell you to “march to the beat of your own drummer” and “stand out” and “be the person who thinks out of the box!”

You Do You Boo Boo

That’s total crap.

We have a natural desire to fit in that dates back millennia for a lot of great evolutionary reasons that I won’t pretend to be able to explain since they’re above my pay grade – all I know is I’m not one to mess with evolution.

But it got me thinking…maybe this predisposition to peer pressure isn’t actually a bad thing?

Peer pressure is a subtle series of beliefs and behaviors you abide by because of your peer group. This is no-good-very-bad if your peer group sucks and brings you down, but what if your peer group is…awesome?

My hypothesis was that you’d start acting like them and having this itch to keep up with them, but in a productive and healthy way. Like how your friends who go to the gym “peer pressure” you to work out. That’s not a bad use of peer pressure. It’s actually kind of awesome.

So, I conducted an experiment.

I found solopreneurs from all over the country and stuck them into a virtual coworking space. Solopreneurs are business owners who don’t have co-founders (aka: most of us). I wanted to see if we’d influence each other’s businesses and behavior for the better.

When you’re building something from scratch, all on your own, it’s all-too-easy to abandon ship. You need coworkers to positively peer pressure you to do the things you know you should be doing, but aren’t. And to normalize your weird behaviors.

Like, I bet you prefer working on your business to a bottomless mimosa brunch, don’t you? Yeah, us too – we’re weird!

Anyway, it worked.

Within a couple months I was hearing things like, well, look:

  • “I LOVE LOVE LOVE being in a crowd that is as smart (or smarter) than me, who are as curious, as self-motivated, as driven, and as generous as me. This is where I can grow.”
  • “I’m so glad I found the Arena. You guys are keeping me going this week.”
  • “This is the most valuable community I’ve ever been a part of.”
  • “Since I’ve been in the Arena, I’ve signed new clients and am growing faster than people normally do at this stage.”

When it comes to your business, who you surround yourself with is key.

Maggie Emily McDowell Coffee Mug

I like being surrounded by people who send me mugs like this when sh*t hits the fan instead of saying, “maybe it’s time you start looking for a job.” Also thank you, Maggie, for this mug!!

If you’re not where you want to be with your business – take a look at who you’re spending your time with.

Who do you call when you get stuck?
Who do you turn to for advice?
Who do you brag about your wins to?

If you want to experience the upside of peer pressure, you need peers you respect and look up to.

That 6-month experiment has turned into the first ever virtual coworking space for solopreneurs with online businesses and virtual companies called The Arena. We’re a tribe of people who won’t let each other be “all-talk.”

In fact, if we suspect someone is struggling, we organize a “SmackDown” where we put you on the chopping block for an hour and grill you about your business.

Imagine sitting in a room (a virtual one, but still) with entrepreneurs who have all their attention focused on you. Yeah, try not to get better after going through something like that.

“‘Because you want it’ is not a sufficient answer. Explain to me how this helps the business” – Actual quote from Jason C. during yesterday’s smackdown. Dayuuum.

If you want your business to grow, you have to surround yourself with people who hold you to a higher standard.

I remember complaining about something to one of my first real entrepreneur friends. Instead of validating my victimhood and offering to get drinks with me later (like my normal friends would), she just stared at me and said, “Ok. What are 3 things you’re going to do between now and next week to resolve this?”

Resolve this?!?!!

Action steps?!!


What kind of friend is this?!

The successful kind, it turns out.

The kind that won’t let you wallow in your own self-pity (even though you reallllllyyyyyyyy want to).

The kind who refuse to become a victim of their problems and won’t let you become a victim of yours either. Who will push you to ship your work, give you feedback instead of praise, and hold you accountable to the goals you set for yourself.

Now that is some good peer pressure.

Normally this post would end here because that’s a beautiful closing line, but yesterday, we opened applications to the Arena virtual coworking space. And I want to make the case for why you should apply.

“If you want to reach higher levels, you need people that are at that level or beyond to not just give you advice, but to allow you to think that big.” – This is a line I stole from my friend Peter, founder of the Essential Man and maker of quotable lines I like to steal.

If you’re tired of playing small and feeling like you’re in this alone, you don’t need another course. You need a tribe. You need people to remind you that trudging through the muck is hard and you’re probably going to fall on your face.

We have no system, no curriculum, and no 5-Step Formula to Instant Growth!

What we have are real people with real businesses who are in the freaking arena:

It’s easy for critics on the sidelines to tell you how to do this better. I did this all the time with clients’ marketing. It’s easy to tell people how their marketing can be better. It’s hard to be the person doing the marketing. Executing. Making the mistakes. Falling down. And getting back up again.

If you’re in the arena and you’d like to be surrounded by more people like you – Apply today.

You are not in this alone. Connect with people like you.

Join us in the Arena.



PS: Whatever you do, whether you join our virtual coworking space or not: FIND YOUR PEOPLE. I promise it’s the quickest “hack” to growing your business and quashing your risk of ending up a wantreprenuer.

And yeah, I know the copy gods say not to use words like ‘quashing’ in your copy but too bad. It’s a great word and it’s exactly what I mean in this instance so I’m keeping it.