I was out with someone last evening whom I’m hoping will become a client. He’s got an intriguing product and with some help I think it could become a game-changer. In the course of getting to know one another a bit better in preparation for a team meeting today, he said something that resonated:
Now, like me, you might have thought it was paved with good intentions but it turns out that the more I thought about what he’d said, the more I agreed. What he meant was that too many of us look at the shiny stuff that’s in front of us and lose track of what’s really important. As with the “good intentions” paving job, we often start down a path thinking we’re doing what’s best for ourselves and our families but end up in a different place altogether. Working for a jerk or in a job that you can’t stand may bring the diamonds, but think of what’s lost in the process. Bringing in a financial partner who can provide investment but doesn’t share your vision or ethics can be poisonous. Hiring brilliant people for your team who can’t or won’t get along is terminal.
Don’t misunderstand. I’m not saying that we as business people and capitalists don’t need to focus on making money. That’s sort of the nature of any successful business over time. The business doesn’t survive for very long if it neither makes money nor lays out a way to do so. What I think my dinner companion meant was that we can’t let the shiny objects – the glitter of the diamonds – become a distraction from what we meant to do with our business or our careers in the first place. The connections we have with people – managers, subordinates, clients, partners, customers – should be based on more than just a financial relationship if they’re going to endure the odd bumps in the interpersonal road that come along.
What do you think?