In the Company of Friends, the Key to Business Success
I attribute a great deal of my business success to the fact that I started my company in Dallas. In Dallas I have always been in the company of friends, where the lines between business and friendship are blurred. I’ve lived in places where you don’t talk business with your friends; it’s taboo. It’s hard to start a business that way. Dallas is the opposite. In Dallas, when you network, when you go to a meeting, you go to connect as people first. To get to know one another. To explore commonalities. The relationship is forged through mutual respect and caring for one another, and the byproduct is that you want to do business together. You want to connect your new friend to your other friends. In Dallas, you don’t do business with someone you wouldn’t call “friend”.
What a powerful thing that is – friendship. It seems that in our culture we’ve worked so hard to separate our personal from our business lives, but I have to wonder how this has really been a benefit to anyone. If tough negotiations could go from a win-lose-tug-of-war, to seeking out solutions that benefit both parties, would that be such a bad thing? If we had to have “performance conversations” with our friends, might we find a way to infuse them with more compassion? Would we allow a do-what-ever-it-takes mentality to etch away at our company cultures, if the people we were stepping over were people we cared about? Might we find a way to have more fun at work? To bring a set of shared values? To celebrate keeping our family-lives strong while getting important work done, instead of encouraging each another to sacrifice one for the other? What if?
It seems that in our culture we’ve worked so hard to separate our personal from our business lives, but I have to wonder how this has really been a benefit to anyone.
I’ve discovered this past year that strong friendships can be forged in ways I could never have imagined. Twitter has bridged time differences and cultures, allowing me to “meet” extraordinary individuals who are fighting to make a positive difference in their corner of the world. They buoy me when my confidence wanes, uplift me when I need to see the light, and have given me an entirely new sense of community. I’ve met people on LinkedIn whose thoughtful support has not only increased my numbers, but helped me feel less alone in the journey; their “likes” and “shares” adding to a current of momentum that allows us all to move forward. Together.
I recently had dinner with two colleagues. Two friends. We talked about everything under the sun and laughed a lot. These are people I trust with my business challenges and with my heart. They hold my feet to the fire, celebrate my wins, are my thought partners and the shoulders I lean on. I am grateful.
They’re in my corner, and I’m in theirs.
You see, business is personal. For can we really do our best work in a vacuum? We need each other more than we know. For inspiration. Encouragement. Growth. Validation. Support. To remind us of who we are and who we want to be.
If you ask me, that’s good business.
This post is dedicated to all of my amazing friends who have made me a better person and helped my business thrive. I am deeply grateful you are in my life.
©OnStage Leadership, 2016
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If you haven’t had a chance, check out my recent Tedx talk or my interview with Alise Cortez on Voice of America’s Working on Purpose Channel: Bringing Our True and Best Selves to Work: Cultivating Authentic Leadership with Kimberly Davis.