There is no tool I’ve found to be more effective in 10x-ing the productivity of a working relationship than a 30 minute introductory conversation.
How it works: Before you need to collaborate with a colleague/partner on a project or request them for something, go for a coffee or walk outdoors with them. Then, spend that time getting to know them with your pick of questions. My favorites are – i) “Would love to get to know your story starting from when you were born…”, ii) “What is the dream?,” and iii) “What do you like doing when you have free time?”
(And, if they’re interested, share your story too :-))
As simple as this sounds, I’ve found that it is easy to forget to do this in the face of the many urgent things that need to get done.
And, yet, this knowledge leads to the the understanding and trust that enables us to collaborate effectively.
I am a sucker for feel good movies. One of the common features of these sorts of movies is the end sequence with lots of lovely “and they lived happily ever after ” memories/montages with great background music.
I remember witnessing a few lovely moments yesterday with our kids and close friends/framily (typo intended) who were visiting. It occurred to me that those moments were befitting a great feel good movie end sequence – the only thing missing was some background music.
Of course, such moments happen regularly in all our lives.
It just falls on us to recognize them and appreciate them for what they are… and imagine some background music while we’re at it.
Investor Naval Ravikant had a great tweet storm on “How to get rich” (his notes on extrinsic success) a few months back. He has since been publishing a great series expanding on the various ideas he tweeted about on his blog. And, yesterday’s post resonated deeply as it contains powerful life advice – “Play long term games with long term people.”
The summary –
(1) Pick an industry where you can play long-term games with long-term people. Long-term players make each other rich. Short-term players make themselves rich.
(2) All returns in life come from compound interest over many turns of long-term games—and they usually come at the end.
(3) People do right by each other when they know they’ll be around for the next turn of the game. And friction goes down, so you can do bigger and bigger things together.
I think the implication of his first point – “Long term players make other rich” – is key and extends well beyond money. When we are in relationships for the long term, we end up investing deeply in the richness of the lives of those around us. Thanks to the way compounding works, those investments pay off incredibly well the long term for everyone involved.
So, become someone who thinks and plays long term games. Then, find partners, friends, and colleagues who are in it with you. It is a powerful combination.
Timely reminder to self – we can’t always do big things, but we can do the small things with extraordinary care.
Just like consistent and sincere appreciation in our close relationships and thoughtful, valuable, micro-interactions/features in our products, the impact of these small things compound over time.
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve analyzed people/relationship problems only to realize that the root cause is misaligned or unstated expectations.
It is amazing how many potential problems – in relationships at home, at work, and even that all important one with ourselves – can be nipped in the bud by the act of proactively understanding and then setting expectations.
The new year is a great time for revisiting, resetting, and realigning many of these expectations. Here’s to that.
The things that mess with most relationships are rarely the “big” things / the fundamental disagreements. They’re an accumulation of the many small things that have been blown out of proportion.
It follows that one of the defining characteristics of relationships that both endure and thrive (high % of positive interactions/total interactions) is the often conscious commitment on both sides to let the small things remain the small things.
Here’s an idea for today/Friday. Take 10 mins – or maybe 30 – today and just invest in connecting the dots for yourself or others.
What does connecting the dots even mean? We are, for the most part, working in places that are matrixed and cross-functional while dealing with problems that are multi-faceted. So, you can think “dots” as the people in these places or ideas that constitute the many facets of the problems we face.
Here are some examples –
People: Find time to get to know two colleagues you work with personally, block an hour to have a get-to-know conversation with your manager (under the pretext of career development if needed), or organize a lunch or activity for your team.
Ideas: Take the time to delve into a hard problem, map out your development goals, start a monthly internal newsletter sharing insights from your customer conversations, or interview someone who is either insightful or productive.
Start with a small idea today. Then, rinse and repeat next week and the week after until connect-the-dots time is a fixture on your calendar.
Every one of our workplaces and jobs thrives on connection – between people and ideas. These connections make workplaces more collaborative, productive, and smart. While it might seem like we’re spending time on “extra-curriculars,” it is the unsaid bullet in all our job descriptions.
And, tiny, consistent investments in making these connections can transform our outputs and outcomes.