I’ve never liked being alone. Playing, winning, losing, laughing, crying, wandering… I’ve always preferred being with another person.
I grew up in a small town, with great buddies. We did everything together, and those friendships have lasted a lifetime. I’d do pretty much anything if I could do it with a friend or as part of a team. Gym class? I’m in for the team stuff. Studying for a math test? Give me a study group. Shoplifting t-shirts at the mall at age 14? Yep, with my crew. Raising a family? With my badass wife, Suzi. The thought of losing alone isn’t fun, but the thought of winning alone is even less fun for me.
So, it is no surprise that I’ve had one business partner for 15 years, the great Mike Vucurevich, or as we all affectionately call him, Mike V. We’ve had wins, we’ve had losses, we’ve taken serious kicks to the gut, we’ve made individual errors and joint errors… but we’ve never, ever, not once, thought of not being a team.
Partnerships might seem easy when times are good, but you find out what you’ve really got when the credit cards are maxed out, the Capital One Convenience Checks with their mob-boss level fees are being used to fund operating losses, there’s no positive end to the financial story, and your business collapses. I know that ulcer. I know that business failure, and I also know that it feels like a comprehensive life failure. And through it all, my partner never wavered… not in his own resolve, not in his resolve for the partnership, not in his trust in me, not in his trust in us. #BetterTogether is clearly what we both know.
In the face of odds where it is widely reported that “more than 70% of all business partnerships fail,” we’ve found the ingredients that makes ours a winning partnership. So how do we do it?
Compassion. Respecting and accepting individuality. Treating each other with understanding and with fairness. Taking the initiative to help one another without being asked. Showing empathy. Caring for each other’s needs without expecting anything in return and without needing to tell the other what we’ve done for them.
Courage: Seeing what is truly in front of us, doing what needs to be done, and going beyond hearing to truly listening. Knowing when to say “yes” when saying “no” could be easier. Saying “no” when saying “yes” could be more comfortable. Speaking up when silence might seem easier, in a way that allows for effectively-received feedback.
Being Truthful: Delivering on the promises we make to each other without compromising the promises made to others. Not choosing which of our principles to follow, but following them all. Knowing that integrity gives us, as individuals, credibility.
Commitment: Dedication to the hard work necessary to achieve success, every day… regardless of what the task is. Buying into what we’re doing and remaining aligned, regardless of which one of us had the idea and regardless of doubts we might’ve had about the idea prior to making the commitment.
Knowing Our Lane: Knowing there’s a difference between passion and talent. Knowing that just because one of us has a vision for something, it doesn’t mean we’re the one with the right talent to lead. Asking each other for help, early, before a crisis. Knowing how and when to get out of each other’s way, never letting ego impede our progress or drive us into each other’s lane. Not criticizing each other’s outcomes.
These are the ingredients that make our partnership work. While we see other partnerships striving to “synergize” their business with a 1+1=3 formula, Mike V. and I are comforted knowing that somehow, we are simply 1+1=1.