Funny thing. Sitting in front of my computer yesterday, contemplating my new business venture, thinking about how fortunate I am. Life is great and I couldn’t be more excited about the direction my business is heading. All of a sudden, the phrase “friends with benefits” popped into my mind. At first, I laughed, then shook my head at my own ridicularity (my new favorite made-up word). Then I realized that my new relationship – a business one – really is a friendship with benefits. And that also made me smile. “Yup,” I said to myself “I got me a friendship with benefits – and the benefits are HUGE. Way better than a little noncommital sex could ever be.” And on I went about my day, with an even bigger smile on my face.
Now for the back story. I’ve been a solo practitioner for 15 years – whoa, that’s a pretty long time. Apparently, I’m old – do me a favor, please, and let’s not dwell on that. I love working on my own, I’m darn good at it, and have a long track record of producing great results for my clients. That said, I also love collaborating. I love working with brilliant minds, brainstorming, tossing out concepts and just as quickly tearing them to shreds, all in search of the best solutions for the people who hire us. And one thing that you often miss out on when you choose to work as a one woman show is the beauty of working with someone you like, trust, respect and can rely on. That ‘rely on’ part is of utmost importance, too, as anyone who’s been doing it on their own will tell you. It’s often difficult to ever rely on anyone but yourself, never mind being able to find someone who cares at least as much as you do about the work you’re trying to do. Most times, those things – those qualities in another person – are tricky, if not downright impossible to find.
Then, I got lucky. One of my talented Kansas City art director friends, the inimitable Lori Akers, introduced me via email to a girlfriend of hers. She didn’t say much more than “I think you two will like one another” and left me to check it out on my own. I’ll admit it – I was intrigured. I did some Googling, then some Twitstalking, a little LinkedIn lurking and, finally, a little Facebook friend checking … “whoa this girl is smokin’,” I was soon saying to self. And I should mention here that I am most jazzed in life by brains. Looks are great, but they’ll only take you so far. What gets me, every single time, is someone with a brain. Every. Single. Time. So when I say “smokin,” I mean in the intellect department. That said, she’s also pretty easy on the eyes. And coming from a straight girl, that’s a huge compliment
Truth be told, when I read this chick’s bio, I was a little intimidated. Holy crap, she’s written a book, founded a couple of successful businesses and looks like she knows her stuff. Hmmm. Why would I want to work with her? She does a lot of the same things that I do – so what possible benefit could hooking up with her do for me? Then I reminded myself that I’m no slouch and that maybe, just maybe, the two of us together might be a powerful force. I think that all too often women feel competitive with one another and, because of that silliness, avoid interaction with one another. As a result, we often miss out on opportunities to collaborate, learn, engage, grow, etc., because we’re too busy eyeing one another up and down, finding things to knock, being envious of great shoes and just being all judgey and stuff. And girls, don’t pretend like you don’t know what I mean – we all do it! All of which aforesaid nonsense is usually attributable to nothing more than a fleeting case of insecurity and an occasional dose of raging hormones. So, I figured, what the heck, I’m gonna reach out and, introduce myself to this chick and see what she’s all about.
To say that I’m glad I did is a massive understatement. Our first ‘meeting’ was a marathon three hour phone conversation. Thoughts, ideas, experiences (both real life and client-related), opinions, stories, etc., were spilling out of our respective mouths so quickly that by the time we hung up, I’m not sure what either one of us thought except that we definitely had more than a few things in common. Mind-blowingly similar lives and experiences had set us up to be fast friends in a very short period of time. Ambition, a zeal for entrepreneurship and a pair of “heck yeah we can do it” mindsets contributed to an immediate whirlwind of business opportunities, which gave us the chance to litmus test the initial compatibility that we both sensed. We quickly discovered that rather than ever feeling like competitors, we were and are a perfect complement to one another. What she doesn’t know, I know and what I don’t know, she does. She’s an analytics and numbers gal and I hate numbers. I’m a creative gal with vision and that’s not her gig. And we both rock when it comes to strategic thinking and really understanding consumers and what moves them. w00ty w00t w00t …. which is geek speak for “man o’ man is this ever cool.”
So, there you have it. I’m sticking with Friends with Benefits. And, in my lexicon, that doesn’t mean casual sex without demanding more. For me, it means that I’ve been lucky enough to find a great friend with whom I’m proud to partner from a business standpoint. I have some major lucky stars, fairy godmothers and good juju vibes to thank for bringing my Friend with Benefits, the incomparable Laura Lake, into my life. As we move into Day 1, Week 1 of the launch of our newest venture, V3 Integrated Marketing, I can say for sure that everything is coming up roses for this lucky girl.