Is Love the Killer App? Do Nice Guys Win?

The Silicon Valley Junto, the Bay Area’s preeminent intellectual discussion society for business and technology executives, convened this quarter to discuss: Love is the Killer App: The Soft Heart in Business. Do nice guys finish first?

Chris Yeh and I started the Junto to continue the tradition of Ben Franklin, a remarkable guy, who in 1727 hosted 12 of his friends on a weekly basis to discuss the issues of the day. The Silicon Valley version attempts to bring our smartest friends into a room over pizza once a quarter to talk about something other than web 2.0. Past topics have included Americanism, humor, and happiness.

"Love is the Killer App" is the name of Tim Sanders book, which I just read, and enjoyed quite a bit. You can find my rough summary here.

After participating in both the Palo Alto and San Francisco discussions, I can safely say that I think compassion and love in the workplace — if defined as a genuine sense of caring and a proactive drive to help others out selflessly — is a killer app. Here are some of my notes:

  • Remember the Buddhist loop — to be selfless can be selfish.
  • Compassion will be beneficial in the long run, just remember the long run may be 20 years.
  • Yes, assholes sometimes win in business. Life’s not fair. But most highly effective CEOs lead with warmth.
  • With an increase in transparency thanks to the internet, nice guys should win more.
  • To show love in the workplace means you will share your knowledge and network.
  • How can you be more compassionate in the workplace?
    • Actually listen to people, and care about what they say. Everyone yearns for respect.
    • Understand people’s responsibilities — what are they trying to get done everyday
    • Look to help others — "Let me know how I can help you"
    • Care about their life outside work
    • Look for the best parts of someone and compliment it. Reinforce someone’s strengths.
    • Most important: be genuine. It’s gotta come from the heart.
  • It takes 100 positive interactions / actions to make up for one negative interaction.

What’s your experience been? Are the successful people you know (by traditional definitions) compassionate and "nice"? Or does the hard ass win more often? How do you express compassion?

Here are Susan Etlinger of the Horn Group’s thoughts on the Junto.


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