If you're looking for guidance on how to become a better leader, become more productive with your days, and live a fulfilled life, it's worth studying top performers like Warren Buffett.

On Friday, Buffett sat down with Yahoo Finance editor-in-chief Andy Serwer to discuss a multitude of topics. The one that interested me the most revolved around the concept of environment--not merely the physical workspace, but more importantly, the people you choose for associations.

Buffett when discussing environment and success, broke the philosophy down to seven words: "Hang out with people better than you." He also mentioned the importance of having the right heroes who you look up to:

Obviously, you can't pick your parents. They're going to have an enormous influence on you. You don't get a choice on that. But you get choices, as you go down the line. Who you admire, who you want to copy.

This way of thinking is something that I committed to a few years ago in order to grow personally and professionally. My initial circle of friends and environment included zero entrepreneurs. Having a desire to learn, but not able to physically leave my current surroundings, I initially sought out mentors digitally who I admired and wanted to learn from which exponentially helped my growth.

When it comes to improving who you associate with, here are two key factors to keep in mind:

1. Behaviors You Admire

I liken this to temperature changes. If you place a pot of 70-degree water on a 100-degree stove, your water will heat up, If you're at 70 degrees with your fitness and you hang around someone at 100 degrees, you're going to raise your temperature. The behaviors that rub off will lead to better results.

This same principle applies in business. In my early days of running a business, I quickly learned that my temperature in business acumen and insight was lower than I wanted it to be. This made my association with those performing at a higher level much more beneficial.

As you associate with higher performing individuals, ask them: "What's your thought process?" You'll be introduced to new mental models and paradigms which challenge your current existing modes of thinking. You'll become a better critical thinker--which is essential in growing a business.

2. Principles and Values That Match Yours

As Buffett stated in the interview: "If you want to emulate somebody, you'd better pick very carefully who you want to emulate." I'll take that a step further: Before you emulate others, you need to understand yourself.

What do you stand for? What do you believe in? Your core principles and values serve as the compass that helps you navigate life and business. Tactics are one thing, but values are the foundation for everything.

There are numerous top performers with whom you could form a relationship. Not all of them will be ideal for you, specifically. Everyone has different values, principles, and philosophies about life and business. Link up with those who are in congruence with you.

There are many tactical strategies mentioned when it comes to riding up the success mountain. However, all of those strategies are a moot point if the company you keep is less-than-stellar.