The One About Friends

I was having a conversation a few weeks ago, discussing, among other things, the value of time – its management, its conservation, how it is the one strategic asset that matters above all others. During that part of the conversation, it occurred to me that if time is the asset, then people and relationships are its currency.

What I mean by that is that time is the most well-spent, having the highest and most satisfying return when it is spent with people and furthering relationships with them. That statement includes relationships in all spheres of life, but the remainder of this post will mostly focus on my professional sphere.

2023 has been a transformative year for me in many ways. The most obvious way is that I started the year looking for a new role. After spending January considering several options that would have been compelling and rewarding, I opted for independent consulting. The response to that has been overwhelmingly positive and really brought home the value of relationships I have built and nurtured over the years.

I have come to realize that, throughout my career, I have occupied a space somewhere between Gladwell’s connector and maven. I have habitually connected people with each other when I thought it could benefit them (connector). Through this blog and many evening meetups and beers, I have often shared information with others (maven). I never really thought about what I’d get out of that as it didn’t really matter. If I could connect people whom I respected with each other in a way that was helpful to them, that was good enough for me.

So, in January, I was looking for “gigs” and there were the people that I knew, many of whom for many years and some for only a couple. In each case, we started to talk. Stories flowed, reminders of times when I connected them with someone and it ended up solving a real problem. Times when I did a quick analysis after a question on social media and sent an answer that was helpful in that moment. And after all of that, many opportunities for work opened up.

Some worked out right away, others took a little longer, and a few others are still in process. But had I not spent that time in the past nurturing relationships with people – genuine ones, not ones targeted at selling – 2023 could look a lot different for me. As of this writing, I am an independent consultant who has yet to write a single proposal to land work. I can write them and am actually pretty good at it, but it’s a terrible form of business development and I’m happy I haven’t had to pick up a pen yet.

Any stumbles, and there have been some, have been mostly related to getting this little venture off the ground and trying to do it well. There’s a lot to organize and keep on point. Those tasks strike right at the heart of some deficiencies that have had to confront head-on and are another reason 2023 has been transformative for me. I’ll probably address that in a future post.

But, for now, I’ll close out by repeating the biggest lesson this year has reinforced for me:

Time is the greatest asset and people and relationships are its currency. Time spent nurturing relationships will have the biggest and most diverse payoff. It’s also simply pretty enjoyable in the moment.

Thank you and I’ll see you in 2024.

*The header image is the WeWork at 700 K Street NW in DC. I’ve started getting a hot desk there at least monthly.