roll the hard six

High Quality People Are Always Worth Betting On

Martingale gamblers believe if you wager enough times, statistics say you’ll eventually win. But what if you’re placing wagers on people?

Of course endless betting is financially impractical, so when it comes to friendship in our personal lives, it gives us a ledger for the cost of taking chances on strangers.

Let me bring you up to speed.

I met Stacey in the squalor of a Chicago bar cornering Armitage and Lincoln. Bump-ing iPhones is a lesson in fail, although because an area code and seven digits is all that separates us, technology still wins. I want to tell you a few things I learned from Stacey, and I’m going to pick on her since she’s newest to my treehouse casino.

When I hit my thirties, I began realizing as people get hurt, they don’t always get better at dealing with their emotions. They do become more skilled at hiding them.

I know this, because as a PR, it’s my job to hack into your lives.

Here’s what happens. People make bets that don’t pay off and get hurt. They develop methods of numbing their emotions, like detaching their emotions into salves and pursuits like food or liquor or yoga or marathon running, hoarding the spiritual leftovers for healing themselves.

They do this because they begin believing relationships can be dangerous. Which they are. Put your chips on the table and roll the hard six.

Relationships are impulse buys and like Sloane Crosley writes, we “figure out if it’s worth the cost later.”

But they’re worth it because that’s how it’s been successful for everyone else. In a free market with any degree of bon chance, no one receives without giving, so having a chance at being more than ourselves means taking risks on other people.

My friend Stacey reminds me how true it is. Me, the guy whose job it is to bring people together.

It’s 2010. I’m 30 years old.

Interesting, how I didn’t discover Stacey until we’d need one another. Luck’s a lady who grew up along the same country road. Attended the same college, Indiana University - treason, where we’re from. And worked at the same Cracker Barrel (I love that place). So even as strangers, we’d always been close, although we only just met.

Convince yourself good people find one another, because the people who really stand out have the ability to do that. We secretly hope our friends find us when we need them the most. On the verge of a gone dutch, Rounders meets Raskolnikov-level breakdown, this is when we want to hear their voice.

Especially when we make a bad bet.

It’s been my experience that people work with to solve issues in business also have a way of reaching out when something personal arises. With insight comes the ability for emotional transference, says Freud, and vice versa. So it goes for colleagues and clients, good partners and good friends who do the same. They draw you in, where others see a ledge.

There was a time Stacey knew when I wouldn’t admit to needing company and would reach out, even if it were only to see a movie. The voice of a friend; it gives one courage to be seen, which is often the last thing we want to happen when we’ve been hurt or feel embarrassed.

This, is not challenging or compromising because it’s then you realize you are exactly who you are in this moment. That’s okay. And we can figure out how to talk about the past while living in the future. Which is “a totally amazing, excellent discovery,” in mine and Wayne Campbell’s World.

More importantly, it frees you to take bigger risks which pay off over time.

It was not just a chance meeting with a stranger in a bar which led me to realize life is one Martingale gamble after the next, and that maybe, I hadn’t made myself emotionally available enough to tune-into clients, friends, and lovers in a real way. Not to say you should spill your emotions on someone else’s desk, the conference room table, or a bed. You do it in a way that makes sense for the situation and the relationship.

A generic way of looking at public relations is as a sort of resource war. How many connections can you acquire for a client? We know now from influencer approaches that it’s not about the number of people we can access, it’s whether we relate to why certain people matter and how they will make a difference. That’s a very different kind of connection.

What is that experience like and what do you do with it? There’s an entire industry dedicated to researching this into percentages and psychographics. I know because I’m a participant.

It’s less mysterious once you throw enough resources into figuring it out, the same trade everyone else has to make in order to develop a skill for life and talent for living. Eventually you become a better gambler, but only after you place enough bets to learn ways to beat yourself at your own game.

Don’t wait for the perfect gamble. It doesn’t exist.

It’s possible to look at the perfect moments of a friendship as how our worlds speak to us without saying a word. But that’s the world, a substantial yet vaporous concept, and people need people, despite our ambitious, boil-the-ocean kind of plans. And especially, when those plans come apart.

Don’t wait for the perfect moment to reach out, either.

Understand life’s messy, that at times, it will be a series of losing hands with few guarantees, although the winners I’ve met know the one thing my friendship with Stacey makes most clear to me.

High quality people are always worth betting on.