After all of the money, Charlie Munger and Warren Buffet said that essentially the commodities you could buy were no match for "the ability to find people you really enjoy working with and working with them."
I think that says a lot about happiness in general, as well as happiness in our work more specifically.
Because business IS just people, which people we work with really matters.
"Who" you choose to work with might matter more than "What" you work on.
When you don't like your clients or your customers, your experience of being at work starts to really suffer.
Many people are stressed and misaligned in organizations and this causes more drama and personal pressure...
Sadly, there are also people who will play games, and not ones that are about winning in your favor.
A "no-asshole clients, customer, or collaborator" policy is simple enough to state, but harder in practice.
Having a solo services practice for high-end clients, vetting and matching with the right clients is paramount for what I do.
I've been super lucky, but also intentional.
I really love the people I work with. This has taken some discipline as well as knowing myself. And of course, trying things out and making mistakes.
Almost the entire reason to be in the services business is to create an attraction for the right people.
It's also why you publish.
It's also why you do lots of things, like putting yourself out there to go to events or create or be a part of communities.
You can even create products with the intention of attracting great people you'd want to work with for the long haul.
This idea is true for employees, employers, entrepreneurs, creators, and even entertainers.
The people you work with teach you lessons, so let's hope they're the right lessons.
I learn from my clients just as they learn from me.
I pay attention and listen, and there are a great deal of ideas going back and forth.
You spend most of your time at work with them and it's tiring to put on a show.
These are the people you're around (even if you're remote) most days. So you pick up on their energy and their patterns.
Like attracts like.
There's a compounding effect where getting connected to one person leads to new connections through their network.
You want to be in relationships where 1+1=4, where your collaborative effort builds leverage for both of you.
Not only do networks compound, but collaborations that are great can produce outsized results.
This can be just for pure joy (see; Charlie Munger/Buffet) or for impact.
So this is important.
Then why is this difficult?
The "Intuitive No" vs. the "Logical Yes" (More Money)
There's the logical part of us, then the intuitive side.
The logic-brain wants safety, and it's scared about being alone. The logic part is the part that says, "But they pay!"
The logical-yes can lead us into long-term commitments we ultimately dislike.
It might even be that they pay very little, but it's pay nonetheless.
That's how this part of the brain treats things.
Of course we need money.
But we also have stories about money that push us in certain directions beyond simple security.
Then the intuitive side has it's own concerns.
The "intuitive-no*" wonders if this is really a fit, and it picks up on red flags.
The intuitive side notices how they try and control the situation, or bring down the price, or how they talk about other people they work with... it could be any other number of red flags.
*Of course, sometimes the intuitive side is scared of opportunity and discomfort, but that's for another post.
The decision point is in the weighing of these factors.
So, something I's really personally training myself on lately is extending my time horizon.
Short-term thinking yields short-term results at the expense of long-term results.
Let's get into some practices for identifying and vetting whether or not someone is great to work with.
How do I VET if someone is a good fit to work with as a partner, or client (customer, collaborator, etc.)?
Direct, Indirect, Exploratoary.
1. Be really upfront (Direct)
Some people know who they are, what they want, and what they are good at. When you're really upfront with people you meet, you are polarizing, but in a way that also helps the right people find you and know to stick around while shunning the rest.
If you have a service or business, you can say things like;
- "I can tell this will be the right fit for us, let's work together."
- "I don't think your business is right for my service, but I know other people you should meet."
- "It sounds like our values aren't aligned, and it's best if we both don't move forward."
- "I have a rule that I only work under this arrangement, and it's ok if that's not for you."
The direct way of vetting people has its benefits; it's out in the open.
The problem with the direct approach is that it might keep people who need help with clarity and leadership find and work with you.
Just because you have strong boundaries and clarity doesn't mean someone else does, and there are opportunities for helping lead people through that process in a way that's more sensitive.
The direct approach is best when you have a very clear objective or process.
2. Create more hoops, and qualifications (Indirect)
This is the way I qualify my network and opportunities with customers or collaborators, and it's more natural for my personality.
This is more art than science.
The idea is that I actually don't have any pre-conception about who is the best fit, instead, I want other people to go through a process of discovery to see if they believe they're the right fit.
In this way it's not so much about selling, but about attracting.
It means being both very easily accessible, and also not accessible at all.
You create and allow for more indirect ways for people to find you. There are buffer points or fences. It's not that you're blocking anyone, you're just creating a path for people to go down prior to meeting you.
Here are some examples:
- You write and publish authentically so people know who you are.
- Your network buffers and vets people for you.
- You spend time connecting with others outside of a work context, and things naturally shift into a work context when you can add value.
There's a lot more nuance to this area, but that also may be because I see it and think about it more. The point is really to let people go as deep as they want.
The indirect approach is best when you don't have to have a perfect alignment or objective but you have matched well on "vibe."
3. Be exploratory and test the waters with low commitment. (Exploratory)
This method is a bit like a combination of the two. The nuance is that you avoid longer-term commitments.
You assume that you don't really know or have a good way of judging who you'll be a fit for woking with, so you just get real evidence, and then make your decision.
Lots of great business partnerships happen one step at a time. As you progress, you find that you keep enjoying working with this person more and more, and so the relationship grows over time.
Dating is typically in this exploratory type camp. You're not initially committed, and you set up "dates" where you see if you're both having fun; with it being totally ok for you to un-committ at any point.
The exploratory approach is best when you want to gather real evidence before making a decision one way or the other.
- Who you spend your working hours with matters; for your learning, your opportunities, but also in how that compounds over time.
- The "money" makes this more difficult and clouds our judgment. We get stuck in the war between logic and intuition.
- You CAN have amazing clients or partners that you love working with, but it takes discipline, knowing yourself, and trying things.
- "Qualifying" and vetting your customers can be done intentionally.
There are 3 styles you can explore:
- Direct – Being up front and boldly honest.
- Indirect – Using indirect means for people to find you, and then filter through a series of paths to arrive at meeting you in an already more committed space.
- Exploratory – Assume that we don't have the best judgment and instead want real evidence, and take things step by step.
When wealth provides you with the opportunity to work with who you want, you find a freedom.
Can you work with people you WANT to work with without being a famous investor?
My belief is yes, it just takes some work and intention.
As always, let me know if I can help,
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