The name of this blog is sure to rile up the cynical folks in the crowd and perhaps drive you one step closer to nihilism. I want to provide a few simple examples of winning together in the business world, and specifically, beyond company boundaries.

I sign business deals with a variety of different companies. Some are hegemons in their industry. Others are niche players. In every single case, I have a few representatives with which I interact regularly. Implicitly or explicitly, I always try to figure out how that representative is evaluated. Their personal evaluation matters to me. This is not about brown nosing. It's about trust. It's about winning friends and influencing people, much like the title of a 1936 book written by Dale Carnegie.

I recently signed my third deal with a popular and growing training company. One rep told me that they are evaluated on how quickly they can publish the content I produce out to market. Knowing this, I worked hard to deliver my content far ahead of schedule and with a level of quality beyond what was expected. I regularly checked in with them, using humor, to ensure they would "look good" in front of their bosses. I'll let you guess how quickly my content was published, how quickly I was paid, and how interested the company was in signing me on for repeat business. Paraphrasing the consulting guru Alan Weiss, "Behind every company objective is a personal objective."

With another company, after signing a contract to provide content on a topic in which I consider myself an expert, the rep suggested that I draft another proposal. This request was regarding a topic in which I was reasonably strong but for which I was not well known. The rep argued that sales would be excellent, even better than the first delivery of content to which we previously agreed. Given a small royalty percentage, I stood to gain some, but I could tell by the excitement in this person's voice that there was a significant benefit for this individual personally. I signed the deal. It worked out well for me, too. What do you think happened the next time I submitted a proposal on a highly competitive topic? Two days later, I had a signed contract and a grant payment clearing their accounts payable system.

Zero-sum thinking is the scourge of modern business relationships. Don't do it.

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