Relationship building (Ricky Weekly #68)

This is where I share 3 things every week with my friends and anyone else interested.

A picture from my life:

This is a picture of Amy, David, Irene, Lani and Abe in NYC taken by Haley this week. With the exception of Irene, I met all of them this year through Flow Club. Flow Club is first-and-foremost a place where people gather to find focused flow, but what you get when people come together around a shared mission is a community!

A thing on my mind:

Two months. That’s officially the longest hiatus I’ve taken from this newsletter. Getting to write this is soul-affirming for me, so I’m trying to come back. Thank you for reading.

People say business is all about relationships, but what does it actually mean to build relationships? I haven’t thought about it much until recently.

When you ask investors for advice on how to raise money or journalists for advice on how to get them to write about your company, they’d tell you you should build the the relationship before you need them. In reality, investors invest in and journalists write about people they just met all the time. Asking you to build a relationship is mostly about giving them the optionality to invest/write about you.

But isn’t it easier for people to decide to invest large amounts of financial and/or political capital if they have more data points about you? Yes and no. Decisions like that are typically more emotional than rational, so unless the data is plentiful and positive, you actually would prefer people to have less data about you because more unclear data only leads to analysis paralysis. The exception is if the relationship gets to a point where you become friends, and they like, respect and believe in you as a person first and foremost. That’s rare though, and sometimes that never happens no matter how much time and how many data points you’ve exchanged because friends also need to just jive with each other.

So how to build relationships in business?

1) Meet people, and naturally become real friends with a tiny percentage of them that you end up jiving with. If y’all get to do business together, what a nice bonus.

2) Recognize that the rest are acquaintances with option value. Disseminate data points to them thoughtfully if you are the option value.

3) When you’re not sure, look for evidence that the other party cares about the relationship. Do they ask how you’re doing, take an interest in it, and follow through to help you? If it’s just you doing the work, then you are closer to option value than an actual friend.

I know I’m simplifying a complicated topic. I’m a pretty open person, which means I make friends easily, but I also end up sharing more data points than is wise sometimes, so there’s tension there that I’ve thought about in the past.

A piece of content I recommend:

Berkshire Hathaway - Acquired Podcast

This three-part series on Berkshire Hathaway is great way to spend 7+ hours if you like business. I’ve always wanted to learn more about Warren Buffett but was never able to get myself to read the super thick books out there about him, so it was great to have Ben and David from Acquired do it for me. When it comes to Buffett people tend to talk about the compounding power of money, but I also got a refresher on the compounding power of privilege, obsession, and success itself.

🤗

As always, you can find out what I’m thinking in more real-time on Twitter and my essays are on my website. My primary focus (and where I focus) is on Flow Club.