They did a bad bad thing

Posted on December 14, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Last night I was talking with the brilliant Eric Tang about my upcoming trip to Tokyo.  Eric’s mom is Japanese and he was sharing some of the cultural nuances that await us.  One of the ones that I found most interesting was what appears to be an EXTENSIVE happy hour culture.  Apparently from the hours of 7:00 to 11:00 after work EVERY day, the entire workforce goes to bars to drink with their colleagues.  It isn’t a once a weak, or special occasion thing, but rather a requisite for professional ascent.  “If you’re not going to drink with your coworkers every day after work, you won’t succeed.”

Max chimed in that in some of the other Asian countries in which he’s spent time, deals are closed over many drinks, and it is an important step in the development of trust that you drink with potential business partners.

These two anecdotes got me thinking about why and what is at the root of this behavior and it reminded me of a lesson that I learned about 5 years ago when first observing different professional archetypes.  I studied how people form strong business relationships and I decided that there are two ways to build extremely tight, long term business relationships:

1) Make a lot of money with someone.  With spectacular success comes a very strong bond that can mint a lifelong business relationship.  Not surprising…if you make $50 million with a partner, you guys are going to likely continue to do things together for years to come.

2) Do something very bad with together.  In compromising morally, and collaborating on something illicit or illegal, you are also bonded for life.  With vulnerability and liability comes a life long bond as well.  Said another way…those who have “the dirt” on each other stay incredibly close.

I have seen incredibly tight professional relationships that were born out of both of these beginnings and (obviously) have chosen to eschew the second in pursuit of the first…not that that is necessarily the fastest path to a killer and powerful network, but it is certainly the most righteous…

Regardless, returning to the institution of getting drunk to form professional bonds in Asian cultures…although obviously not immoral or in any way negative as a practice…I do think the behavior is an extension of the psychological phenomenon at the root of methodology number 2.  With danger, slightly bad behavior, and shared time in the realm of mischief perhaps the wheels are greased in advance of achieving method number 1.

So yea,  if you ever wonder how the two incredibly close, incredibly rich 50 year old guys built such a strong business relationship…it’s a decent bet that they either did bad things together at some point or absolutely crushed it together (or both)…

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2 Responses to “They did a bad bad thing”

RSS Feed for Jordan Cooper's Blog: startups, venture capital, etc… Comments RSS Feed

This is extremely insightful. Of course, a salaryman can’t afford to loll about Washington Square Park eating sushi and admiring his hot new Tretorns. Still, J. Coop, I am looking for great things from you. Top of the firmament, etc!

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    I’m a NYC based investor and entrepreneur. I've started a few companies and a venture capital firm. You can email me at (p.s. i don’t use spell check…deal with it)


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