Who Are Your Top 5?

If there’s one hill I’m willing to die on (aside from women’s reproductive rights), it is the Top 5.

These are the people in your Squad. Your ride-or-dies. Your 3am phone call.

Who will check in on you when life is exceptionally difficult? Who can you lean on? Who gets you like no one else does, even when you dream audaciously big?

In times like these, it’s critical to know who Your People are.

This list is not about jockeying for position, or who bought me nice things, or anything superficial. They are the people who have a deep understanding of who I am on a soul level, and when I’m feeling my most raw and delicate, they will interact with me mindfully. They will listen and provide honest, helpful feedback.

It’s taken me a long time to ponder this, because I’ve realized they aren’t necessarily my very best friends, or the people I have cocktails with, or family members, or schoolmates. They may not even know everything about me. But they know and support the critical pieces of me. 

Now it’s time to build your Top 5.

Or take a deeper look at the inner circle you already have, and they might be fabulous already. No one ever needs to see your notes on this, so let’s dive in!

Using a notebook, Google doc, whatever, write down a list of names of people you have or would like in your inner circle (however many at first), and cull it down to no more than 5. The reason for 5 is because you also need to bring something to the conversation with them, and have their back, and that does take focus and effort. It’s hard to be available that way for a large group of people (despite what Dunbar says, because we’re talking about deep relationships here). 

With that list of humans you’ve made, evaluate them according to the following criteria:

  • What are my greatest concerns and struggles right now? 
  • Who is a good sounding board or support for those?
  • Who are the best listeners in my life?
  • Who will pick up the phone at 3AM if there is an emergency? 
  • Whose presence is not welcomed in my life right now? From whom do I need a break, whether it is short, long, or permanent?

For that last question, it’s important to know it’s perfectly OK to create distance between yourself and those who, at this particular moment, do not support your needs. The list is ever-evolving, as are your needs, so there’s no right or wrong here. And it might feel uncomfortable to know you’ve outgrown some individuals.

You get to have the grace of whatever you’re feeling at this moment in time.

Once you’ve narrowed down the list, I want you to think long and hard about these 5 people, because they’re also the people you are willing to give your absolute everything to support. This kind of circle of trust requires reciprocity, so it’s not just about you — it’s about them, too.

Don’t get stuck on the number. Mine fluctuates between 5-7 people at a given moment, depending on what’s happening in my life and work.

If you are at a loss and don’t know who to put on that list, for now, write down the type of person you’d want: a good listener, a BFF to travel with, a fellow founder who could be a sounding board, etc. We’ll work on building connections next month.

Next to the names you do have, write down what you love about them, and what they bring to your life.

They are your safety net, so plan to nurture them the way they nurture you.

Since Valentine’s Day is coming up, how about kicking things off with a lovely handwritten card, greeting card or postcard? With an actual stamp! We’ve entered an age where getting a personal note in the mail is like a special treat, so indulge them!


Wednesday Wisdom takes a deeper dive into the core concepts of IMPERIA’s work, helping to strengthen you from the inside out as you scale your vision.

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