Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Dealing and Stone Soup

I went to a conference a year ago, and one of Silicon Valley's most well known venture capitalists, Tim Draper, gave a talk. He mentioned something along the lines of "You can't get anywhere in business without dealing. Creating a business is a series of deals.  Dealing to an entrepreneur is like breathing to a person" A light bulb went off when he said that, and since then those words have been rolling around in my head, because I think they carry more usefulness than just the business sense.

First of all, do you know how to make stone soup?
Once upon a time, there was a great famine in which people jealously hoarded whatever food they could find, hiding it even from their friends and neighbors. One day a wandering man came into a village and began asking questions as if he planned to stay for the night.

Stone Soup"There's not a bite to eat in the whole province," he was told. "Better keep moving on."

"Oh, I have everything I need," he said. "In fact, I was thinking of making some stone soup to share with all of you." He took a giant pot, filled it with water, and built a fire under it. Then, with great ceremony, he drew an ordinary-looking stone from a velvet bag and dropped it into the water.

By now, hearing the rumor of food, most of the villagers had come to the square or watched from their windows. As the soldier sniffed the "broth" and licked his lips in anticipation, hunger began to overcome their skepticism.

"Ahh," the soldier said to himself rather loudly, "I do like a tasty stone soup. Of course, stone soup with cabbage -- that's hard to beat."

Soon a villager approached hesitantly, holding a cabbage he'd retrieved from its hiding place, and added it to the pot. "You know, I once had stone soup with cabbage and a bit of onions as well, and it was fit for a king."

The village butcher managed to find some onions . . . and so it went, potatoes, carrots, mushrooms, and so on, until there was indeed a delicious meal for all.
When the people were unwilling to share what they had, no one had a very appetizing possession.  It was only when they began to share did they all jointly benefit.  In fact, everyone went in on a deal.  They gave up some of their product to collaborate on a greater product that was exponentially better than what they started with.  By working together, with everyone contributing what they can, a greater good is achieved.

The way I see it, no one knows or has everything in life.  Sometimes we are up, sometimes we are down.  You could cope with this by yourself...or you could choose the better option.  You could join a community.  Joining a community entails contributing what you have for the greater good, and then you'll find that when you are in need of something your community will be there to help you.  We are much stronger as a whole than we are as an individual.  Use your strengths where you can helping others, and when you need help, don't be afraid to ask for it.  We are all be better off when we each contribute what we have to offer...the soup tastes much better that way.

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