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Strive Masiyiwa: Know Your Partner (Part 1)

It was the first time I met a billionaire! I had travelled all the way to Houston Texas, my first visit to America. Time and space constra...

It was the first time I met a billionaire! I had travelled all the way to Houston Texas, my first visit to America. Time and space constrains me to tell you what I had gone to see him about.

I planned to be there for a week.

The first day, he invited me to lunch. And every time I tried to talk about the business idea he would brush me aside, and say, "tomorrow, son". Next day, I managed to see him, only for a few minutes. And when I tried to raise the issue of my business plan, he said, "tomorrow, son", then changed the subject, asking I instead, "What do you think of Houston?" ....and again invited me, for dinner, this time with his wife. On the third day, he invited me to his office, looked at me intently, and finally said, "son, I like you........ The most important thing in business is to KNOW YOUR PARTNER..... I like what I have seen of you.....Now I know you a little, you can discuss with my people, the details of what you have in mind." And with that he politely led me out of his office.

Know Your Partner (Part 1)
Over the next few days, I faced the most intense grilling about my life, and background, that I had ever faced. They wanted to know everything about me... And that was before they asked a single question, about my business idea. I learnt later that even in those three days of informal discussions, they had been evaluating me! I did not mind, because this is one of the most important rules of the game, at the very top.
Remember what I have said before:

"Every game has its rules, and its own language."

This is one of them:

Know your partners.
That encounter, with the most successful person, in business, I had yet met, gave me an life long lesson:

You must know your partner.

It is not possible to grow big on your own. You will need partners. In the end it is really all about partnerships.

Many people think that succeeding in business, is about having a good idea, and then raising capital. If you do not know how to forge meaningful, long term partnerships, based on mutual trust, you will not make it.

- who are your partners?

- how well do you really know them?

Incidentally, I never did business with the Texan businessman, because my idea, was actually not that good; but I learnt how to evaluate and to be evaluated; that was priceless!

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