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Posts Tagged ‘generosity’

Remember reading your history books about people sentenced to exile from their city states.  I could not understand this as a punishment. I had no context.  At the time, I was living in the eternally cloudy and damp city of London.   Exile would be welcome.  Maybe I could go to Ibiza or the Caribbean and play on the beach all day.

In the context of those city state days, exile from Rome or Florence was devastating. One was cut off from “civilization”. One was removed from a tight-knit infrastructure of relationships that provided credit, intellectual exchange and a concentrated population for trading.

As more global business goes online and transacts exclusively in cyberspace, I can imagine the similarly tight-knit infrastructure of relationships forming by the social currencies of trust, candor and generosity. I can imagine intense trade and credit exchanged between the members of prosperous online groups.  These communities will be increasingly exclusive and selective as they grow. But they will be amongst themselves, open and inclusive. They will allow members to be increasingly candid, vulnerable and generous (predictable), without the constant anxiety of having confidentiality and trust violated.

Where there is predictability, there is trust.

The most successful individuals would be able to move between and trade with many groups, networks and communities online.  Their golden passport to abundance written in the  indelible digital ink of trustworthiness.

A violation of trust could amount to exile from a group. Far worse, this could be like branding a thief on the forehead, but in cyberspace.  No community or group will accept a branded exile.  At least not any group an exile would voluntarily accept.  I assume that would mean some form of justice or due process in a private tribunal, in which  case the jury really would be your peers! This puts into perspective the wisdom of building a public reputation for generosity, trust and credibility.  It could also be the difference between  having a group of trusted friends, business partners and work colleagues that would advocate in your favor, or a hostile mob “stoning you” back into the highly suspicious world of a brick and mortar economy.  OK, a little poetic license, but you get the point.

Whilst part of this may seem like scenes from an adolescent video game, I urge you not to ignore all of these evolutions occurring rapidly in cyberspace and with real consequences.  All the pieces are in place already, and with one exponential leap forward, we will be in that world overnight.

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Keith Ferrazzi, author of Never Eat Alone and Whos’Got Your Back bestsellers, is a friend and mentor.  These are some of the principles I learned from Keith:

1. You can’t get there alone:

Funny how we forget this! I know at times I’ve forgotten how many people have helped me in my success. When I pause to think I realize how little I sometimes did. Some of my biggest successes, I was almost passive in comparison. It was literally handed to me by a friend, colleague or family. My part was living up to my commitments and earning intimacy in my relationships with them.

2.  Business Relationship are personal:

Keith is adamant that there is no “solely business” relationship. He distinguishes between an intimate relationship and a relationship that is not intimate.  Both are personal.  Taking the time to learn about a person’s problems, needs, interests, you become a part of their life and you earn their trust. We’re assuming you didn’t learn this by stalking them!

3.  Share passions and vulnerabilities:

Be transparent and share your passions and interests. Keith insists on being vulnerable with your clients and contacts. The principle of reciprocity is triggered and they feel more willing to share theirs.  Despite some fears of exposing weakness, Keith insists that it eliminates prejudgments. If you’re authentic they can still choose not to like you, but they will trust you.  We trust what is predictable, and an open person is predictable – even if rude.

My stepfather was brutally honest and many people did not like to be around him because he could insult them as easily as he could inspire them. Like him or not, they all trusted him and his friends were friends for life.

4.  Be Generous and Give – Don’t keep score.

“Intimacy comes from giving without keeping score.  Everyone knows when scores are being tallied and most don’t like it.” Keith also warns about the generosity of not allowing others to help you.

I see this playing itself out on the internet in a scale that is unprecedented: chronic spamming and broadcasting from a red ocean of marketers, all working on an ultra short sales cycle.  It’s a numbers game for them! Many people that started out with generosity give up too soon. They feel taken advantage of, and soon revert back to highly transactional behavior.  If you go back to number 1, my statement of passively receiving success was a direct result of not keeping score.

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The industrial era injunction to work longer hours and literally drive oneself to the edge of physical and emotional exhaustion is almost dead in the opulent West.  Many lament this and it’s often the subject of many articles on our economy and youth.  We admire the Chinese for their work ethic but we can’t seem to find the energy anymore.  We’re lazy – they say.  We’re going to be left behind!

Maybe…. and maybe not.

All these are by necessity linear arguments that exclude the broad scope of evolution as a result of technological development. Maybe we are lazy. But then, why bother with technology?  Isn’t technology meant to free us from routine and repetitively boring tasks?

Let’s assume that technology continues at this pace, a pace not broken despite world wars, depressions, recessions and Communism.  From the limited perspective of what we know today, we can expect that if you’re a lawyer you will have access to a vast, almost infinite, ocean of information.  Maybe even AI: intelligent agents that can tell you the law, fashion arguments, draft briefs, etc. But then so does your “opponent” have this same access.  What then?  A sort of mutually assured stalemate situation – MASS.

What now?  Back to humans negotiating, I guess.

All roads lead to human interaction – even more so than ever before.  That’s what we’re seeing already today with the mass interaction using social media like Facebook and Linkedin.  As technology grows, human interaction increases.  Hence, the importance of building relationships, authenticity, trust, and credibility becomes its own currency.  But unlike capital currency (money), controlled by a few, relationship currency is a universal currency which everyone has access to.

Like it so far?

Ok, that was a really long winded explanation to conclude that we’re all in the “business” of human relationships – plain and simple.  And “relationship currency” is vastly more rewarding to a joyful lifestyle, to your capital currency base and to the time to enjoy them.

I know I skipped some steps, but it’s a blog not a treatise.  Can you already see that we’re “lazy” because we can be?  That our relationships are and will be more important that the technology you use and the hours you work?  That relationships are and will be more important than your access to capital in fiat currency. Relationship currency can’t be inflated by central banks, loaned by banks with interest; it can’t be counterfeited or stolen because it is based upon human experience and interaction.  You can fake it – for a while – but you will be soon exposed. There is no bankruptcy court that can discharge your relationship debts from deceit, manipulation and self serving lies.

After 9/11, I once saw a friend buy rural land and stockpile 2 years worth of food.  He was going to escape to his bunker in case of mass chaos, nuclear attacks and eat dehydrated food until it was all over.   The Lone Wolf syndrome – going it alone.  A practical idea up to the late 1800s in North America.  Today, someone will tweet that you have food and the mob will siege your house first! GET IT??  You’ll have to go underwater in a one man submarine or into space to escape mobs. Most of humanity will simply have to  build relationships so that a mob never materializes because we’re all too busy trading, cooperating, and collaborating to steal each other’s food!!

Today, it’s a reality that with social media and the lack of privacy, you are being valued by the currency of your generosity, accountability and trust.  These rules have not really changed in centuries, only the scale has changed – exponentially!

Now here comes the shameless promotion: that’s why we created OBA.  We’re a global mob trading in the currency of trust.  Investing in the market of each others success.

In the spirit of earning your trust, what is your most important objective and how can we help you realize it?

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