I received an email from a work acquaintance today. It’s in a stack of about 500 emails, some from people I interact with regularly, some from strangers. This acquaintance was in the middle of the friend vs stranger spectrum, but when performing triage on all those emails, he was among the most important.
The reason? He once did me a favor.
Specifically, he came and spoke in my venture capital class. So now, he moves to the top of the queue when he emails me.
It occurs to me that I do this all the time. The nature of the venture capital business is one of being nice to, and hopefully helpful to, a whole range of people. I try to do favors whenever I can. In the back of my mind, I hope that one day this will work out for me. Someone will send me a great deal, a great connection, an investor in my fund. But I don’t keep track. There is no tally of gives and gets. This isn’t accounting for money. These are favors. And not the mafioso “now you owe me” favors. Just nice things.
In addition to venture capital, it seems that business, politics, entertainment, athletics, basically all fields of human endeavor are fields where relationships can be the difference between success and failure.
As our culture moves more and more towards “look at me” and “I’m great” public projections of our fragile egos, it seems that relationships, and getting ahead, would benefit more from a favor economy than a show-off economy.
Now, if only I could find an app for that.