I want to talk to you today about something very important to your business and your life. If you have read any of my other blogs or watched any of my videos, you have probably heard me talk about this before. That’s because it’s one of the best investments you can ever make.
What I’m talking about is the importance of relationships. The relationships you build will always carry more value than any amount of money you can make. Let me tell you why.
I recently had lunch with another businessman in the community. During the course of our conversation he told me about a new product he was trying to launch. He wasn’t totally sure about a few aspects of it, and I said “Why don’t you just get three or four of your trusted advisors, see what they think, and get a general consensus from them?” He looked at me sadly and said “I don’t have three or four people that I trust.”
I’m not usually a person who is lost for words, but when I heard him say that, I truly didn’t know what to say. This guy is 35 years old and he doesn’t have three or four people that he trusts enough to go and talk to about this new product launch.
I don’t want you to be in a situation where you feel like you don’t have anyone that knows you and cares about you. I’m going to continue to talk about relationships because they are extremely important. The value of good relationships can’t be overstated.
From the time I was about six to eight years old, I would often visit my grandparents across town. Two doors down from their house was a little country store. A gentleman by the name of Mr. Hertz owned the store. After 50 years I still remember his name. See, my grandfather would take me over there when he went to do his grocery shopping, and when he was done I would get a piece of candy from the jar and he would get a cup of coffee and go out on the front porch and sit and talk with Mr. Hertz. I really enjoyed going down there and being part of building that relationship.
When I was nine years old, I used to stock shelves at a little store named The BreadBox. The owner’s name was Bob. He had two store locations, and he would take me to each store and we would stock the shelves. Then he would take me home. We built a great relationship during that time spent together. Later, when Robin and I got married and had kids, we did our shopping at a store named Galbreath Grocery, owned by Bob Galbreath. I would take my children in there and Bob would always give them a piece of candy. One day I went in there and Bob said “I heard your dad was sick and I wanted to check on him. We are going to prepare some food for him and take it down to your parents’ house.”
Do you see the theme here? When you spend time with people, when you build relationships with them, you become part of their lives. You have people that care about you and look out for your family. The relationships matter.
Some years later we started shopping at Publix. All of a sudden, nobody knew our name. Sure, they knew who we were because we were in there all the time and they recognized our faces, but they never greeted us by name. The relationship was missing.
As technology continues to progress, the personalization and the relationships become more and more obsolete. Now we do our grocery shopping online. We pull up to Publix or Kroger and they load our car with our order. We never even set foot in the store!
That sort of thing bothers me a little bit. I like when people know me by name. I like when I go places and I know the people there. I like building relationships with people and knowing they care.
Automation can be a great thing that increases efficiency in many areas, but sometimes it may come at an expense that’s not worth paying. We need to be careful not to eliminate all the relationships in our life. That’s what I thought about with the 35 year old that I had lunch with. This man has nobody to go to for advice because the culture today is to sit at home and automate everything. Young people increasingly don’t know how to interact with people in public. Children don’t say “yes, sir” and “no, ma’am” because they aren’t used to interacting with humans.
I love most aspects of automation, but automation can only get you so far. I love people more. I have relationships that are too valuable to sacrifice for automation. Being connected with good people is critical to your success. Real relationships are the key to everything.
When my dad died, there was a line all the way out the door and around the parking lot to get into the funeral home. There was a six and a half hour wait for people to pay their respects. You know why? He knew how to build relationships. My dad loved people, and people loved my dad. It’s not about money. It’s about people. When you care about people, amazing things will happen in your life. You will always have people that care about you, your children, and your grandchildren. Never put profit over people. Always put people first.
Listen, I’m not telling you not to automate. In fact, I’m telling you that you should automate. Do it often. But be very careful when you do, and be aware of the consequences. Don’t sacrifice all your relationships. Make sure people know they matter to you.
At the core of everything, people are the key. A very successful friend of mine told me the other day that he hadn't stepped foot inside his bank in five years. All the banking he does is automated. Maybe I’m old school, but I like going in the bank. Bill Seals is my banker and I’ve done business with him for 30 years.I’ve followed him to four different banks. You know why I stay with Bill? Because he cares about the relationship. Sometimes I will be sitting at my desk and there’s Bill walking towards me with a fresh cup of coffee for me saying “Hey man, I just came by to see how you’re doing.” He cares. He always asks about my family. When I need something at the bank, I know I can call Bill. I know he will help me take care of it.
If you’ll do one thing today after reading this, make it about one of your key relationships. Spend time with another human. Show them that you care. Ask about their family. Build that relationship. Then when you need some advice before launching a new product, you’ll know exactly who to go to.