Friends in Business
I was recently having a conversation with a friend of mine who met up for dinner with a business friend of theirs. Here’s the story: My friends (let’s call her Jenny) was listening to her business colleague and friend (let’s call her Lisa) about a dream job that Lisa was going to apply for. She wanted advice from Jenny, as Jenny is a sharp cookie and Lisa knows she is great at PR, personal positioning and was flourishing in her own job. After the chat, when Jenny looked up the job, she could see why Lisa was excited as it looked interesting, well paid, with great prospects and opportunities, in a fresh niche. The problem was, it was also Jenny’s dream job too!
Jenny is a strong business candidate, in truth far more likely to get the job than Lisa. However, she would feel deeply upset and betrayed by Jenny applying for the role. Jenny wouldn’t have found out about it, if it wasn’t for the conversation over dinner, and she’s in a dilemma as to what she should do. Should she apply for the job and risk hurting Lisa and losing the friendship, or miss out on her dream opportunity and keep the friendship intact?
When Jenny dropped a hint to Lisa that she was interested to see what reaction would be, Lisa made it very clear that she would be extremely upset if she were to apply. An interesting point to note is actually Jenny really struggles with Lisa generally, and wouldn’t particularly miss her as a friend, as within their wider social group she has a bit of a reputation at flying off the handle and a few have had enough.
This conversation reminded me of a story of a famous British entrepreneur who will remain nameless. Whilst he was out at dinner with someone, he was asked for some counsel from him about a business idea. It was an area that the entrepreneur wasn’t directly working in and after the entrepreneur asked lots of questions there was a pause in the conversation.
The entrepreneur stated that he thought the idea was a bad one, and in due course, excused himself to go to the toilet. Whilst in the cubicle he phoned up his team in his office to get them to jump on the idea straight away. He then came out of the toilet, ordered a few rounds of drinks and stayed as long as he could with his friend to keep him from going back to work. The idea was a time sensitive one.
Was he being shrewd in a dog eat dog world, or self centred, dishonest and selfish. Where do you draw the lines between friendship and business and what do you consider more important?