The idea: A few weeks ago, I received an email from someone I had not spoken to in many years. This person was only an acquaintance, but they reached out to me stating, “It’s time to talk because I have a new business venture you need to be a part of.” This is a big statement and an even bigger assumption.

The next day I jumped on the phone with this person and for the next 25 minutes, I was prodded and overwhelmed by questions from them on their new venture.

     “Who do you know that could help us?”

     “What can hinder our success?”

     “How do you see our brand?”

Their objective was to tap my knowledge, network, and instincts in a very transactional way.

The person went on sharing, We are bringing in investors in the near future and I may not be involved in the company, but we would love to have you involved on this project for a little bit of time, are you interested?”  

I understood I was speaking with someone who wanted to buy a hired gun for a couple of months. They wanted a transactional relationship, and I never do.

Why is that a problem? It’s a straightforward contractual agreement, right? You give someone access and hidden insights and they pay you for the transaction. It’s like hiring an UBER for the evening. It’s quick, it’s seemingly effortless, and then it’s over.

So, why was I feeling uncomfortable with the phone call? This leader is a fine person.

I don’t do transactional relationships very well. In fact, that’s precisely why I stared this business 10 years ago. I am not interested in impersonal relationships. These types of transactions drain me because they are not rooted in a longer-term commitment. By their nature, transactional agreements fail to align around core objectives, leaving everyone at the table unwilling to trust, to divulge, and to grow in critical moments. I don’t like working in environments motivated exclusively by a buck. A quick buck is usually an unreliable one.

Every time I have violated this principle, I have felt uninspired, unmotivated, and even a bit used. It’s a negative feeling that bleeds into my personal life and my relationships. The only collaboration I’ve seen work is that of a partnership. The rest is not for me.

Before you enter into any new contract or take on a new customer, can you answer “yes” to the following three questions?

  1. Does this opportunity make me feel curious and am I personally expanding?”
  2. “Do I trust and like these people and are they committed to building our relationship?”
  3. “Am I inspired by this organization’s vision or are they tapping me of my energy?”

If a job or a client relationship doesn’t create energy, momentum, and curiosity – walk away.

Better yet, run.