The Currency of Business, is not Money?

I was reading the book ‘Never Eat Alone’ by Keith Ferrazzi the other day – it speaks about how relationships and networks are what make businesses and individuals successful. He has put a lot of interesting thoughts out there in the book, but one of them particularly struck me:

Businesses run on the currency of favours

To clarify, favours do not mean ‘I did something for you, so you owe me one’ – that’s the transactional way of looking at relationships, in business it is more like ‘She helped me out when I needed it, let me step up and offer help!’ – even though these may seem like the same thing, they are widely different!

I am not even saying that money doesn’t figure into the equation, of course it does, but it is not what really holds business relationships together, and this is something I have observed too:

Average businessmen are particular about cash; good businesspeople are really particular about relationships; and excellent businesspeople are out there helping people they don’t even know!

The Evidence:

It is everywhere!

Brett Martin blogged about how the most successful people like rockstar VC Fred Wilson are also the most accessible!

There’s another post by James Altucher about networking and connecting which basically says the same thing – to be a successful networker, you should make others successful by helping them meet relevant people! (even though his writing style doesn’t really resonate with me, some of the content absolutely does!)

You never know!

Another interesting aspect, is that this is not at all tangible or predictable – you never know what help may come from where – someone whom you helped/connected to someone probably will change your life by pointing you to your next co-founder/client/mentor/customer…even your next job!

Just last week, one of our professors mentioned, that

in 3 years a majority of you will get new jobs, not because you drop your resume somewhere, but because someone somewhere recommended you to your potential employer!


Seek Help!

But what I find the most interesting, however, is that, believe it or not, the crucial first step  in this process is not ‘to get someone to owe you’ (it sounds so lame), but to reach out and seek help – I have started to realize how willing, in fact even restless, people are to help others (maybe they know all this already, or maybe they just like to help!)

Perhaps BSchool is the last time when individual effort or doing everything on your own matters – in real life, the one who asks for help is the one who generally gets it – is overcompensated in fact! Even though my extremely limited experience in ‘the real world’ is no reference point, most of the times when I have been able to achieve anything even remotely substantial, one of the steps always involved reaching out to someone whom I would not have otherwise

Thinking about the other side, as students I don’t know how much we can help, but connecting others to relevant people is at least a decent starting point, and I try to make sure I grab every opportunity to do so!


8 thoughts on “The Currency of Business, is not Money?

  1. Very Well written!
    I think there is a brilliant talk on similar lines, by Amanda Palmer on the Art of Asking. My friends father is a first generation entrepreneur and this is the only thing he has tried to teach him.

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