Super Cities №238—Firefights and Friendships

Brendan Hart

One Big Thing

The General Has Spoken

An oft-spo­ken ad­mo­ni­tion in the Marines is this: When you’re go­ing to a gun­fight, bring all your friends with guns ... I have never been on a crowded bat­tle­field, and there is al­ways room for those who want to be there along­side us.

If your job is to fight the nation’s wars, you want friends with guns.

If not, you still want friends. They can leave their guns at home.

When I started my career, I thought the professional world had a limitless horizon. I thought its scope was never-ending. I assumed that, regardless of whether we had warm or cold relationships, colleagues would come and go. Never to be seen again.

I was dead wrong.

The business world — just like the academic, policy, or public service worlds — is quite small. We make it smaller still by filtering through industry, sector, university, and personal affiliations.

It’s hard to overstate the power of friendships and alliances, informal and formal. These friends and allies are the ones who backstop us when things become difficult. They encourage us, refer us, and teach us.

Schools don’t teach the art of friendships and alliances. All-powerful business school titans prefer to bang you over the head with a corporate finance textbook.

Too bad, Gordon Gecko.

As Mattis says, if you’re taking on the world, bring your allies.

You will need them and, at some point, they will need you.

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