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By now, most of you know both my business and content strategy from Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook. I like to give as much as I can up front before I muster up the audacity to go in for the “ask.” But, although this is my go-to philosophy, it doesn’t always work, and that’s perfectly okay. It’s just the way of life, and I think we can all agree that being a good person on the upfront is always the best option regardless of what the potential “payout” might be.

One of my favorite stories from the Wine Library days is when I went out of my way in the middle of a snowstorm to deliver a case of low-end wine during the holidays. Now, did I have to do it? Did I really need that one-bottle sale? From a profit standpoint, no. But I valued my customer, wanted to show my appreciation, and also wanted to show my employees how we should be approaching our customer relations. And so, that’s what I decided to do.

Turns out a few weeks later that same customer’s seemingly wealthy son gave me a call and placed a MASSIVE order with us. Did I know that was going to happen? Of course not. And would it have happened regardless? Maybe. But that doesn’t matter. What matters is that I went out of my way to put my customer first and, in the end, it ended up working out in my favor too. Regardless of what she did after or who she told, I felt good about myself. Sometimes there’s a dividend and many times there’s not, but that should never stop you from doing the right thing first.

Relationships are everything to me. Whether it’s with the friends and family that you grew up with or the unsuspecting connections that wind up changing the course of your life, fostering relationships is paramount to guiding the ways our lives unfold. And just like in business, in order to build and maintain those relationships, there needs to be a value exchange. For me, I prefer to give 51% of the relationship. I like that leverage. It might sound dark, but that’s just the way I roll and I think there’s tremendous value in having that outlook.

In order to build any type of relationship that gives you the air cover to be able to ask for something down the line, you should always be the one providing the value upfront. You might not always get what you ask for, but at the end of the day, the absolute worse case scenario is that you had a positive impact on somebody through your actions, and as a human, that should just make you feel good.

Take my content for example. I’m blessed to be living in a time where I can communicate my story to so many of you and I am incredibly humbled that you take the time out of your day to consume my content. But the truth is that I don’t need to do it. I know that I probably won’t make a sale every time I put out an article like this. I don’t expect to. But as long as I have even one listener, reader, or follower, I’m going to continue to give because my intentions are pure and I know the effect it has on so many of you. (And quite frankly, I just like the way it makes me feel.)

That’s the key when trying to foster any relationship. Because as much as you might give and although you might feel as if you’re owed something, you’re not. Giving means to give without expectation–to give based on someone else’s needs without assuming something will come back to you in return. So in order for this jab-right hook scenario to play itself out, you need to understand that nobody owes you anything. This understanding and lack of expectation allows me to be comfortable providing 51% of the relationship, because in having zero expectations and not assuming someone will reciprocate on the other end, I’ve got everything to gain.

When you put others in front of yourself, whether intended or unintended, things just happen. It’s magical. Be it in life or business, I implore you to always seek to be the giver first. If you can give without expectation, you’ve got everything to gain. It’s not an easy trait to acquire but it’s certainly something I advise everyone to work towards. Not only will it make you feel good, but it’ll provide you the leverage that you can utilize if the opportunity comes knocking.