Dancing with the One that Brung Ya

Loyalty.  Trust.  Integrity.  Some may say these concepts are as old-fashioned as handshake deals and the old saying of “Dancing with the One that Brung Ya”.  The old way of talking about being loyal to the person who brought you to the party, who introduced you into the group, who facilitated a business deal.  It has a very important meaning:  Don’t forget those who helped you get your foot in the door and helped you get started.

There are many, many times when the student will surpass the teacher, when the mentor will be left behind by the protégé in skill, in success. That doesn’t mean the student or the protégé must leave behind the one who brought them to the dance originally.  When the roles begin to reverse, it is time for the protégé, the student, to reach back and say “thank you,” to extend the same courtesy and to extend invitations to the parties being held.

It doesn’t mean doing deals where the person or organization isn’t capable of executing.  It doesn’t mean offering crumbs from the table.  It means recognizing and giving credit to those who gave you opportunities to learn, to grow, and to advance.

There is another meaning to “dancing with the one that brung ya”.  Have you ever been involved in a deal which was originated by one individual or company only to have that company cut out of the final deal?  You know what I mean.  Someone comes up with the idea, for example, to create an investor forum which would provide access to capital markets.  This forum would bring together various parties and introduce them to each other.  It would share the concept, get the momentum going.  What happens next?  Some of the people who “signed up” for the concept go off to start their own.  This undercuts the success of the entire concept because getting momentum for multiple groups starting simultaneously is nearly impossible.  The “separatists” undermine the entire concept and it becomes ”Well, it wasn’t that great an idea any way.”

Another perspective on the “dance” theme occurs when starting a business.  Two or more parties come together to pool resources and expertise.  A third party withholds his/her expertise, resources, and time waiting to see if the new business is going to work.  The other parties can’t make it work without the third party’s efforts.  Self-fulfilling expectations – “I’ll wait to see if it is going to work before I’ll put any effort into making it work,” and sure enough, it doesn’t. …I’m not willing to dance with the ones who are bringing me.

It is to be expected that one enters into a new relationship with caution, whether it is business or personal.  To take time and care in investing our selves, our resources, our time, is the logical behavior.  Once we are in a relationship, it is wise to continue to monitor and to ensure that we are still well treated.  It is also wise to continue to treat those with whom we are in relationship with respect, with loyalty, and as we would expect to be treated.  And hopefully, we don’t expect to be left behind.

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