The Friend Matrix: Do You Have Enemies Disguised As Friends?

One of my favorite rappers over the last several years is Wale (pronounced waah-lay). He’s a great lyricist, knows how to ride a beat, he’s very open and honest in his songs, and much like me he also loves WWE pro wrestling.

Above all else though, I love Wale because he’s a huge Seinfeld fan. He made three mixtapes based off the show, The Mixtape About NothingMore About Nothing, and Festivus, and recently released an album, The Album About Nothing.

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In his mixtapes, he includes snippets from the show or other Seinfeldian-things in every song, and bases the content of the song off of that snippet. That’s a great example of merging interests, which I call The Rock Rule.

In my last post I covered Jerry Seinfeld’s bit about why our friends are so annoying. I first heard that bit in the intro to a song on More About Nothing, called "The Friends N Strangers". In "The Friends N Strangers", the chorus includes the lines,

“Smiles and handshakes everywhere I go...I think I’ve got some enemies disguised as friends.”

In the song, Wale raps about dealing with people who are nice to his face, but talk shit behind his back, and other people who he calls his friends, but who aren’t very supportive of his goals and ambition.


How do you know if you have enemies disguised as friends?


My cofounder Martin and I firmly believe in The Average of 5 Rule, which states that you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.

Think about that for a second. Ever notice how really successful people don’t surround themselves with people who bring them down? Or how “burnouts” hang out with other burnouts?

To get to the top, we need to constantly be around other people who want us to get to the top, and want to get there themselves as well. That means we don’t have enemies in our 5--we spend time with people who push us forward, not pull us back.

Pulling back disguises itself in a number of ways. From straight up throwing hate

“That’s stupid...why would you do that?”


to euphemizing it


“Oh why don’t ya go blog about it?” (said condescendingly)


to distracting us from our goals


“You need to slow your role and chill out. Let’s go do THIS instead”


You are the company you keep. If your company keeps you down, you’ll have a much tougher time rising to the top.

So, do you have enemies disguised as friends? Martin and I created a simple tool to figure it out called The Friend Matrix.


The Friend Matrix helps you:

  • Take an honest look at who you spend time with
  • Break down your 5 and quickly see if you’re in a group that pushes you forward, or pulls you back
  • Find if you’re acting as an enemy to your 5

What up! My name is Rajiv Nathan and I'm the Cofounder of Idea Lemon. That banana peel you slipped on to land here came from me. That's because I fancy myself a human Curious George, and the yellow hat I chase is life's authentic moments. I share my chase one story at a time through this blog, our email newsletter, and as a rapper.

Oh and I'm a WWE fan 4 lyf!

Why Are Your Friends So Annoying?

Do you ever just get sick of your friends? Sometimes I feel like we spend more time complaining about them than actually enjoying their company.

Here's a great standup bit from Jerry Seinfeld on an episode of David Letterman that perfectly describes friends.

catch the first 30 seconds where he talks about why friends are annoying

Here’s how his routine starts:


“So what I wanna talk about tonight is, why are your friends so annoying?

It doesn’t make any sense--these are the people you have PICKED to be with!

You like these people and yet everything that they do--you’re never going to the right restaurant!”


This is one of my all-time favorite Jerry Seinfeld moments, because it’s so true. Jerry’s bit then goes into different topics, but the whole friends thing goes way beyond restaurants. It sort of feels like we can never get our friends do the things we want to do. 

I remember a few years ago wanting to check out a new neighborhood in Chicago. I tried to get my friends to go but they were like,

“why would you want to go that far?”

Or a time when I wanted to check out a random concert.

“It’s probably not gonna be our kind of music.”

Or when I wanted to go to open mic nights.

“Nah...we’re not gonna fit in there.”


It was like I was surrounded by Chief Keefs.

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that's that shit they don't like!


Have you ever had these kinds of moments?

These were the people I had PICKED to be with, yet they weren’t picking any of the things I wanted! 

I’m sure you’ve had times when you ended up NOT doing something because your friends didn’t want to. Maybe there was an art show you thought would be fun to check out, or a spin class you wanted to hit up, or a project you never started because you were afraid of what your friends might say.

All of this shit kept happening to me over and over again and finally I realized I was going about this all wrong.

See, we hold ourselves back from ever doing anything because we wait to see if our inner circle will get on board. But that’s a backwards approach. Instead of “WE First”, sometimes we have to be selfish and take a ME First approach.

Like my friend Matt Wilson, who one day decided he wanted to visit Iceland. 

Think about the last time you wanted to take a trip somewhere. You probably sent an email to your friends to try to plan it, the the thread went 100 emails deep (digressing wildly into unrelated topics along the way), and by the end of it you ended up not even taking a trip. That’s a WE first approach.

Matt went ME first, and planned out all the details, then told his friends

“Hey--I’m doing this. I’ve already made the arrangements. If you want in, here’s what it costs.” 

(And that trip led to Matt creating the company Under30Experiences)

Or my friend Michael who went to Bali for a month to attend this yoga and meditation festival during spring. I met up with him one day and he told me he was leaving in a week. I said, “hey I actually happen to know two other people going, why don’t I introduce you all?”

(And now they are all friends) 

You think I would have thought to introduce them if Michael had been like,

“Yeah...I think MAYBE I’ll TRY to check out Bali LATER this year IF I can get a group together…”?

Hell no. But since he was like, “I’m doing this, and it’s happening now” I knew he wasn’t dicking around and I was happy to give intros to two other people who also said “I’m doing this, and it’s happening now.”

We've talked before about The Newsroom Approach--taking a ME First mindset is how you ‘just decide to’ and put that approach in action.

So I was sick and tired of constantly not exploring the things I wanted to explore, and when the ME first revelation hit me, it changed everything.

 Instead of asking everyone if they would want to do something, I just started saying,

“Hey, I’m doing this, are you coming?”

Very quickly I saw who was on board, and who wasn’t. When you go ME First, you see which of your friends really want to do the same things as you, and which ones don’t. And it’s cool for the ones who don’t--you stop asking them, which they appreciate. They are doing their own things that they enjoy, and you don’t need to bother them anymore. You can’t be everything to everybody.

What’s even cooler is you find who else gravitates to the things you’re doing, and you make new connections and new friends.

Rather than sit around on your ass, frustrated because you keep doing the same old shit different day that you don’t even really like, when you go ME first you immediately start doing cool shit that you LOVE, and you naturally build a circle that supports it and shows you more things you love.

Over the weekend I was out with a different friend who just came back from a month in Bali (seems like it’s a hotspot, no?) and we caught up and started talking about what our different friends were up to. That conversation included friends who were traveling, starting podcasts, and building their own businesses. I had this moment of clarity where I was like, “this is really cool that these are the people I can call friends.” 

When you go ME First, you pick people and get picked by people who help you build a lifestyle you love. It's on you to make it happen, don't wait around for other people to do it for you.

Take care and be awesome.

What up! My name is Rajiv Nathan and I'm the Cofounder of Idea Lemon. That banana peel you slipped on to land here came from me. That's because I fancy myself a human Curious George, and the yellow hat I chase is life's authentic moments. I share my chase one story at a time through this blog, our email newsletter, and as a rapper.

Oh and I'm a WWE fan 4 lyf!

Why You Can't Be Everything to Everybody

Every time I send an email to the Idea Lemon tribe, some tribe members make a conscious decision that they they are done, and they unsubscribe from my emails. 

I’d like to take this moment to pour a 40 out on the curb, in remembrance of those who are no longer with us.

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But for real, it used to really bother me that people would unsubscribe. What was I doing wrong?

Then I saw that unsubscribes don’t just happen in emails, and they don’t just happen to me. Unsubscribes happen to all of us in our day-to-day lives.

Maybe you lose touch with a close friend over the years--they’ve unsubscribed from your friendship. Or you used to really be into photography, but now your camera collects dust in the corner of your room--the hobby unsubscribed from your life. You strike up a conversation with a friend of a friend you just met, you don’t have much to talk about, and they walk away saying, “hey I’ll be right back,” and never come back--they unsubscribe from the interaction.

As we go about our lives, people and interests unsubscribe from us. A few years ago, this really fucked with my head.

Why wasn’t I seeing my college roommates all the time anymore?

Why was baseball not as interesting as it used to be?

Why did I care so much about if one person in the room didn’t get along with me, when there were 8 others who did?


You know what else happens every time I send an email?

Every time I send an email, about 300 - 400 of tribe members decide to read what I have to say, and some of them enjoy it so much that they go back and read it multiple times.

Here’s why I bring this up: I used to obsess over the 7 or 8 people who unsubscribed and wondered, “what am I doing wrong?” Then I realized--why waste time and energy trying to win over the people who don't care? You can’t be everything to everybody.

I write about my encounters and my observations to help those who are multi-passionate (like me) build a life, career, and personal brand based on those passions so they get more out of what they are doing, and get noticed for doing so. Everyone who has unsubscribed in the past made a conscious decision that they don’t want to hear about that.

You know what? That’s okay. I’m not for everybody, and that’s okay.

So, if you’re still reading this, thank you. It likely means I provide something of value to you, and you do care about building your own brand on passion and purpose. Instead of worrying about the 7 unsubscribes, I focus my energy on helping you.

As you look at your own unsubscribes in life, before getting down about it, remember you can't be everything to everybody, and people who don't care will never care.


Take care and be awesome.

What up! My name is Rajiv Nathan and I'm the Cofounder of Idea Lemon. That banana peel you slipped on to land here came from me. That's because I fancy myself a human Curious George, and the yellow hat I chase is life's authentic moments. I share my chase one story at a time through this blog, our email newsletter, and as a rapper.

Oh and I'm a WWE fan 4 lyf!