One of the people I mentor asked me
to look into a potential business partner
he was scheduled to meet.
So I did some research.
The potential partner was very successful.
Lots of experience - no doubt money can be made.
But that's just one factor to consider.
I've helped people negotiate,
write and amend contracts.
(Disclaimer - I'm not an attorney
and this is not legal advice.)
Contracts can cover best case scenarios,
worst case scenarios and exit strategies.
You can have terms that are generous.
You can have lots of performance based incentives
and protections for both sides built in.
Some of the terms
that matter most
are outside the contract.
Like being happy.
Like the nagging feeling you have
that you shouldn't be doing this.
Contracts are great when they
spell everything out.
People have a short term memory.
But they can be like oil light in a car.
If the engine suddenly seizes
and the oil light comes on,
that's probably not a good sign.
Let me be clear here.
You might have a contract with a repair company.
That's a service provider.
Something breaks, time to come fix it.
I'm talking about partnerships.
Where you and another person agree
to work on a project together.
Services are provided as part of a partnership.
A partnership may be business,
but it still has lots of elements of a friendship.
It really helps if you like them as people.
If you have to lean on the contract
to force a partner to do things,
Put yourself in their position.
When you're forced to do something,
how happy are you?
Bitter people don't make
for a good partnership.
If you find yourself in that situation,
it's time to have some serious conversations.
Don't work with people you don't like.
You might have to work harder
or make less for a while.
It will cost you a lot less in the long run.
If you like who you work with,
you'll hopefully do more for them.
See how that can help financially?
The time to work out
problems with a partner
is before you agree
to partner with them.
Don't wait until you're
in the middle of a project
to find out they expected
you to do all the work.
Each time you work with someone,
you decide the terms.
How do I know this?
How do I know that the other person
doesn't hold all the cards?
Because unless you're
in a movie
signing a contract
with bad guys
you can always say no.
Unlike the movies,
scary music doesn't play
when the bad guys walk in.
Otherwise, you decide the terms.
No, you don’t decide all the terms.
But you decide the terms you will accept.
You don't "have" to work with someone
just because you can make money.
But that's just one tiny part.
Year's ago, I worked
in a dating service.
This wasn’t online.
People came into the office
for full background checks
It was very intense.
One of the questions:
"what kind of relationship
are you looking for?"
I rarely got an answer that
excited people when they first answered it.
I got people being reasonable.
Like they were looking for someone
to match their furniture.
All the years they went
through bad relationships.
They finally have the chance
to make a wish.
They just shrugged
The first answer
started with "I don't know."
I wouldn't take the bait.
I just stared at them until they talked.
That was stage one.
Because I wanted to know
what kind of relationship
would thrill them.
To me there's no point
in them being members
if they're going to waste their time
with mediocre results.
Some would laugh in my face
and say that's not possible.
Great - there's the door.
Thanks for coming in.
Best sales I never made.
Some stuck around.
I wanted to know what kind of relationship
would be worth giving their very best to.
That's when their eyes lit up.
They said what they
wanted with all their heart.
Think that makes
a difference in their outcomes?
Damn right it does.
I can't tell people what they want.
I can ask them.
But they have to be
able to articulate what they want.
"I'll know it when I see it."
Thanks for coming in!
Saying what they want
is just the first part.
They better be
ready to commit
and back up their
commitments with action.
Otherwise they're going
to be in a lot of unhappy relationships.
That's their choice - I just won't be a part of it.
When you're talking to potential partners,
either know what it is you want
or be ready to have a great conversation
with them to explore what's possible.
So here's the first big unifying point:
You're in charge of your life.
You decide what makes you happy.
You don't have to work with anyone you don't want.
BUT - and this is a gigantic addition:
decide what you DO want
that truly excites you.
Let me clarify:
Not conditional on outside forces.
Not - I'll be happy
IF that other person
starts doing or stops doing...
Does your happiness require a lunar eclipse
or laws of physics being ignored?
Maybe pass on that condition
like a tough SAT question.
Come back to it later.
I'm drawing a distinction
between long term happiness
and happiness you can build on right now.
Happiness that requires your commitment right now.
I am drawing a distinction between happiness and contentment.
Your happiness is always in motion.
Your favorite fiction books as a kid
Are probably not being re-read today.
So the things that make you happy are always changing.
That has everything to do with contracts and partnerships.
Contracts are just written confirmation of what people want
and what outcomes they're committed to getting.
The potential business partner I mentioned earlier?
Seemed like lots of money could be made.
But that’s about it.
Do you want to work
with people just for money?
Neither does that person
Lots of people love to talk
about being their own boss
And to keep money coming in,
some of them end up
doing tons of work they hate.
They have to support
and partner with people
they don’t believe in.
The “lifestyle” is their new boss.
I had an uncle who got cancer.
He was a cardiologist who lived well.
They told him to stop working but he couldn’t.
He was “accustomed” to a certain lifestyle
so he worked crazy hours even when he was sick.
He spent a lot of money designing his dream house.
They started building it when he got sick.
They soon started getting changes requested
as his condition got worse.
Like ramps for his brand new wheelchair.
Because the cancer made him too weak to walk.
He never lived to see it finished.
Maybe slowing down
would have made zero difference.
But in my mind,
he spent his final days
chasing a lifestyle
over living a life.
When you were a kid,
A piece of candy might make you happy.
With each new year,
The cost of happiness went up.
How much does it cost
to keep you happy?
I’m not talking
about your final dollar number.
I’m talking about
everything in your life.
What has to happen
and keep happening
in your life for you
to declare yourself happy?
Let me lay some
business heaviness on you.
Happiness is leverage.
If you're truly happy,
you come from a place of support for others.
You might end up working with someone.
You might not.
You'll have tons to give other people.
It's a compass of sorts.
Not the happiness that's fleeting.
But happiness that's easy to find
and not based on outcomes.
It's a lifelong pursuit.
Wake me up early on a weekend
and you'll see my happiness dropping.
So I don't mean annoyingly cheerful.
I'll repeat it because it's important.
In business, happiness is leverage.
You track things like sales, leads and conversions.
You know how much it costs to generate a lead.
Do you know how much it costs to make you happy?
Do you know what specifically makes you happy?
Maybe you think this is frivolous.
Have you ever tried doing business
with someone who’s getting divorced?
Or someone who has an illness in the family?
Life doesn’t stop happening for business.
It has to be factored in but rarely is.
Decide what you need to be happy.
I mean beyond the basic needs.
Then decide what people
can expect from you
as a result of you being happy.
So before you make
your next big leap somewhere.
remind yourself - you're already
in the middle of a lifetime contract.
Don’t be afraid to renegotiate the terms.
You're allowed to be happy
without apologies, qualifiers or disclaimers.
You don't need to drag things out or stall for time.
The ability to talk
about what you really want
is a very powerful one.
Your first answers might be stuff.
I want this, this this and this.
I want to be able to blah blah blah.
Great. You'll have stuff. Congratulations.
And you want to have
four times as much stuff
in the next year. Awesome!
And you'll be able to
blah blah blah anytime you want.
That has little to do with
who you are as a person.
Or how you'll get along with people.
Or whether you'll be happy.
You can be rich and get divorced.
You can be a relationship expert and get divorced.
Palo Alto is one of the wealthiest areas in the US.
Their 2 public high schools
have a suicide rate
that's four times the national average.
Money does not make people invincible.
It doesn't protect you from difficult conversations.
It's a great feeling to be financially sound.
It can be fun to go stare at something nice you bought.
There's a day after that.
There's a lifetime after that.
Make sure what you're giving up
is worth what you're getting.
Once you know what will make you happy,
do everything you can to make sure
the people you're partnering with
are going to be happy
with the outcome as well.
If both sides aren't happy
it's not worth doing.
That's how I approach it.
Life is way more
than money and stuff.
Whoever you work with
is now in your life.
When you really let that sink in,
you'll actually raise your fees.
Not because you like
to act important
or hard to get.
a day of your life
is one of a kind.
And all the money
in the world
can't buy yesterday.
hold your peace."
Today is leaving
and it's not ever coming back.
Time to speak up.