Last week I had the opportunity to pitch an exciting startup that I’m proud to be a part of. We had selected a small group of investment partners that were genuinely good people. Beyond the potential for funding, we knew that these individuals would be great champions for our company.
After the meeting, I wanted to share a few thoughts I had on the importance of mutual respect. Whether you recognize it or not, all successful small-to-medium sized businesses, regardless of what they do or sell, have one thing in common: their owners/founders know how to build and maintain authentic relationships.
My entire career, I have been deeply involved in the business of software. It’s what I love to do, and consequently, what I’m good at. However, when I look at what has helped drive a lot of our success, it becomes very obvious that a few key relationships opened most of the doors to many of our opportunities. Below I tried to articulate three points on the value of respect.
3 personal insights to emphasize the importance of respect:
1. Respect makes things easier
Have you ever sacrificed time, money, etc. for someone that you did not respect? Now let’s consider the opposite, how fast would you help someone that you do respect. I know that if someone I respect is reaching out for help, they become a priority.
You want to be around the people you respect. Decision making is easier when it involves mutual respect on both sides. When people honor each other, there is a trust established that leads to synergy. Both parties can make decisions and choices based on what is right, what is best and what is valued most highly. When mutual respect exists, it really makes things easier.
2. Happiness comes from respect, not money
Mark Zuckerberg’s earliest employees remember that he still slept on a bed on the floor even after his company passed a $1 billion valuation, preferring to work long hours and garner work-ethic adoration. It’s not the money that made him happy; it’s the respect his hard work garnered.
You don’t have to be rich to be happy, but instead be a valuable contributing member to the groups you care about. What makes a person high in status in a group is being engaged, generous with others, and making self-sacrifices for the greater good. Overall happiness in life is more related to how much you are respected and admired by those around you, not to the status that comes from how much money you have stashed in your bank account.
3. The currency traded inside every organization is respect
Business may be all about money, but the currency that’s traded inside every organization is respect.
In the business world, respect is king. It is the cornerstone of every relationship and is essential for that relationship to thrive. It is the glue that holds together the functioning of teams, partnerships and managing relationships. Respect is the underlying fabric that drives (and will continue to drive) human transaction in business.
As the great John Wooden said, “respect a man, and he will do all the more”. If you command respect, people listen when you talk and take action when asked. If you don’t command respect, well, work tremendously hard to earn it. Otherwise, your success and happiness may suffer without it.