I love making deals happen. It is extremely invigorating for me. In my experience, I have made some great deals, and I have made some poor ones. At the end of the day, business is about agreements. Whether you are an employee or an owner, you are constantly making agreements.
The times when business becomes painful are because I ignore my gut. I have a propensity to see the possibilities in people, and this can be a fault if I am not careful. No vision of my own will ever be able to help a person want something for themselves. So, I try and stay informed from my gut. It’s usually right. Can I see a person for what they are rather than what they could be? It’s important to stay disciplined.
The reason it is so important is that agreements are built on relationship. Business gets done by relationships. That means good business depends heavily on who the other person is. Adam Aron, CEO of Vail Resorts, said, “As much as possible, deal only with good and honorable people. If you deal with good people, you won’t need a contract, and if you are dealing with bad people, no contract can protect you.” That has been my experience. The best and most satisfying business deals I have done are when good and honorable people are involved. The opposite is also true.
These are the qualities I look for in people I do business with. I have discovered that these types of people make business fun. These are people that are:
- Principle-focused: These are different than money-focused people. Money-focused people are like the monkey who reaches into a coconut to get peanuts for itself. They can’t let go of the peanuts in order to get free. It’s an easy test to find out if a person is principle-focused or money-focused. Ensure that the deal costs them something. You will discover where their values lie. Principle-centered people are driven by a vision and a standard. You will see it in how they treat people, especially under adversity. They are a delight to work with because they can see a larger picture than the dollar in front of them.
- Critical Thinking: Henry Ford observed, “Thinking is one of the hardest things there is to do. That’s why so few people do it.” Business has become increasingly complex and fast. Those who question and change when facts change imbue energy and create new opportunity. While people are always trying to grab desperately to some guarantee, critical thinkers can navigate through the unknowns of business and be at peace. Their minds are engaged, and they solve problems which are bound to be a part of anything worthwhile.
- Customer Experience Focused: Every day you can run into a great example of a business that does not care. They do not care about you or their business. Otherwise, they would paying attention to every detail and every step of your experience. The people that do care are refreshing to work with. They keep bringing more value. They pay attention to the small things. They stop focusing on only making money for themselves and are focused on how much value they can continue to bring for the money they do earn. Why so many people miss this simple approach in business only testifies to our inability to move beyond our self-focus.
- High-tech and High-touch: It’s amazing how many dinosaurs there are trying to do business in the new economy. However, what is even more amazing is how many are content with not growing. I saw a commercial mocking two parents of teens who received step-by-step instruction on how to use their cell phones. That is the norm. The idea that age is the rite of passage is naive today. Knowledge and value are what brings a person to the forefront. People who see the advantages of technology not as an ends, but a strategic means to connect with extremely busy people understand the modern era of business. They invest in the systems to connect with customers.
- People That Have a Dream: I particularly enjoy people with passion. They know what they want and where they are going. We “get” each other. This is where magic happens in business. Working with dispassionate people living in a walking coma is hard. You end up doing a lot of pulling. It is draining. While many people just want to get by in life, people that are clear about a dream make things happen in the world. They are the most fun to work with. Energy, ingenuity and extreme value arise from such a partnership.
Think about the work you do every day. Is it fun? Perhaps it is because of the types of people you choose to do business with – co-workers, bosses, decision makers, employees, etc. I have been part of winning teams in sports and business. The hard work somehow becomes pure joy when the right mix of people, values and vision come together.
You have a choice every day who you get to work with. Pick those who share your core values and make doing business fun. Doing anything otherwise is nothing more than a compromise that can become dispiriting at best. I’m having fun in life. I hope you are as well.