Better than Money

How much would you sell your friends for?

This, of course, is a silly question. Your friends are priceless, and no amount of money could replace them.

Considering how valuable they are though, it seems noteworthy how rarely people write about their friends. Visit any number of blogs and you're sure to find people talking about how networking helped them land some new business, how twitter helped them sell their product, and how having a blog allows them to talk to their fans. But it seems everyone's talking about these benefits in relation to how it helped them make money.

It's entirely possible this is because I primarily read technology, small business, economics and politics blogs, but I suspect that there's a pretty big disparity across most any topic. So, for something a little different and for some Friday afternoon warm-fuzziness, I'm going to tell you about a new friend I made this year.

A few months ago I went to a Chicago Tech Meetup to hear a few speakers, meet some people, and do a little networking. One of the things I'm not really good at by the way is networking. I don't like it and it kind of makes me feel uncomfortable. My friends are always surprised by this because I'm very outgoing, but the thing is that it's somewhat hard for me to strike up conversations with people I've never met before. I usually need more context.

At this event though I met a guy named Ryan who owns his own small marketing business called Rand Media Group, and we hit it off pretty well. Afterwards we exchanged some emails, hung out a few times, chatted about the upcoming arrival of his twins, talked about my kids, and became friends.

And now, we share an office in the middle of Wicker Park which is about a 5 minute scooter ride from where I live. It's the best commute in the world, and the best working environment I've ever had. On top of this, I've been thinking about one of the Thirty Day Project people I met named Simon Fowler who wrote for 30 days about relational proximity. In it he writes:

The foundation of human flourishing is relationship. Ultimately, the foundation is love, but love is predicated on relationship. We flourish to the degree we are connected, or rather, proximate. “We” can be individuals, groups, institutions or countries, but the factors that enable good relationships are the same.

There are at least five factors that strongly determine Relational Proximity:
1. Directness – the degree to which the relationship is unmediated and truthful
2. Continuity – the degree to which it has a history, the parties meet regularly, and it has an expected future
3. Multiplexity – the degree to which the parties know each other through different contexts
4. Parity – the degree to which there is a symmetry in power
5. Commonality/Purpose – the degree to which they share a sense of common purpose or identity

It’s important to recognize that you can have all of these and be devoid of love or commitment. But try love and commitment without them. The model seems to have enormous unsentimental explanatory power for the health or ill-health of a relationship.
As it turns out, almost by complete accident, I now have a relationship that hits all the right notes for relational proximity, and as a result, I've made a great new friend.

And then, there's the realization that if I could go back in time and instead of meeting Ryan, I could meet someone that gave me a million dollar contract, I'd turn down that deal in a heartbeat. It makes that one little meeting seem pretty powerful doesn't it?

My point in all this is two-fold. First, if you're uncomfortable doing something - whatever - do it anyway because there's bound to be at least something good that comes from it, even if you never expected it. My other point is that no matter what business you're in, I think it's good to enjoy the things you're doing just for the sake of doing them. (Another theme from some of the books I've been reading)

Sure, it's great if your networking or blogging or tweeting or anything else leads to a sale or a new customer. But I think it's also important to remember that the money is only one of many good things that can come of this. Likewise, if you're only focused on the money, you might be closing yourself off to other things that might make your whole world better.

So next time you're down about not closing the deal, or getting the new customer, or not having enough subscribers to your blog, find the value that you did get out of that thing you did.

My guess is, there's at least one thing you'll find that's better than money.