By Derrick Braziel
I share my birthday with another person (well, a lot of people – but one in particular). That person is my twin brother, Desmond. Desmond and I are twins and we are also best friends.
I had to learn very early-on the importance of teamwork and partnership, because if I didn’t work well with my brother it would make both of our lives VERY challenging. We had to share our clothes, we had to share our successes (we’re always compared to each other) and we also had to trust one another in virtually every situation.
Living with a twin for 31 years of my life prepared me for the rigors of business and entrepreneurship, for I know instinctually that no person can ever do it alone. You always need people – family members, friends, organizations, etc., – to believe in your vision and help you take your concept one step further.
In a day of fleeting trust (read: we don’t trust each other anymore) how do you pick the right partner? How will you ever know if the person you’re considering for partnership will treat you fairly instead of extractively?
Here are a few tips I’ve learned over the years:
- ALWAYS FOLLOW YOUR HEART: This one is definitely the simplest (and the hardest) tip to follow. Identifying and choosing partnerships in business is 99% your gut, 1% preparation. As a result, you’ll have to trust the voice in your head or the feeling in your stomach when it comes to making a final decision. Malcolm Gladwell, in his book, Blink, spends a lot of time talking about how our gut decisions can be more powerful than tons and tons of data. I believe that often times our gut reaction can lead us in the right direction – trust it.
- LOOK FOR DIFFERENT CUES: We all want to work with people we can trust, right? I believe there are a few cues we can identify when having conversations and beyond, including:
- Future language: Is the person using pronouns like, “we” or describing activities in the future? Typically, this means the person is bought in
- Consistent follow-through: How long does it take for the person to respond? If there’s a lull in conversation, who picks the ball back up? If a person is invested, they’ll show you by staying on top of the little things
- Body language: If you’re talking to them, be sure to observe how they’re acting. PRO TIP: There’s a psychological technique called “mimicking” where you “mimick” the mannerisms of the individual you’re having a conversation with. If you’re leaning in, are they? And vice versa? Take a look at their body language and take notes.
- DO YOUR RESEARCH: There’s clearly nothing more important than doing your research and being well-informed. In today’s world it is very easy to hop onto the internet or utilize social media to learn everything there is to learn about another person or the organization they represent. I cannot say this strongly enough – DO. YOUR. RESEARCH. A few minutes to search a person and/or organization will go a long way in helping you make an informed decision!
At the end of the day, this is a difficult process. Picking the wrong partner and/or partnership can not only hinder the progress of your organization, it can also lead to its ultimate demise. But if it makes you feel any better, no person is perfect. We all make mistakes, which is why I encourage you to follow your heart (rule #1) and fully invest in the decision you’ve made.
Many partnerships, including the ones we’ve made at MORTAR, can take a long time to mature, so be patient. If there’s ever anything we can do to help, shoot me a note.