“Mercenary” Partnerships and Trust

Published on
May 8, 2020
Time to read: 

When I was in the military, every time I changed jobs and met a new team, or had new people join my team, I had a conversation with them. I asked that they tell me what resources and training they needed to do their jobs, what types of work they preferred to do, and what their career aspirations were. I would tell them that quite frankly I was being “mercenary.” If I gave them what they needed, assigned them work that they enjoyed, and helped them achieve their goals, then they would succeed and I would look good.

That reassured those who had already experienced the misfortune of working with bad bosses. They could easily understand what was “in it for me.” Those who were more trusting, or who had worked for good bosses in the past would laugh, because they understood what I meant.

In 2007, shortly after I was posted to 8 Wing Trenton, I made a point of visiting my new team in the locations where they worked. When I met with the Wing Orderly room team, I made my pitch. I could see they were wary so I gave them my tried and true line about being “mercenary.” One courageous young person asked if they could have stamps at their desks. I didn’t understand what they meant so I asked for more information. It turned out that everyone had to leave their desk and cross the room whenever they needed to stamp a document with “certified true copy” or any other of the standard things stamped on military documents. I told their supervisor to make a list of what everyone needed and then buy it. The reaction was something along the lines of “that will cost several hundred dollars.”  I approved the expense because it made sense for them to have the tools they needed, so they could serve our clients more effectively.

That story is just one example. I consistently followed through on helping my teams achieve their goals. I do this because I genuinely like to see people thrive. As an entrepreneur, when I learn of opportunities, my immediate reaction is “who can I share this with?”
Last Friday, a potential client reached out to ask if I was interested in delivering webinars for them later this month. They included a list of potential topics. The email was sent using BCc, so I couldn’t see who else was on the distribution list. When I read the topics, I immediately thought of six local entrepreneurs who would be great for this project. Two had already received the invitation and responded directly to the client. One is so busy; they didn’t have time to take on a new project this month. The other three were interested. I told them they could respond directly to the client, or provide me with their information and I would share it with mine. Tuesday morning, I forwarded the information for the four of us.

One of them sent me a Request for Proposal (RFP) that they thought might interest me Monday night.  It’s not dealing with what I love to do, but I know others who would excel at it, so I forwarded the RFP email to them.

I’ve been thinking about writing books for the last 7 years.  Writing this blog was a way to get me in that mindset. Last week, a friend asked me to be a beta reader for their book. Leadership is one of my special interests, I happily reviewed and commented on three chapters over the weekend. I love the lessons covered and could relate to the author’s experiences. On Tuesday, my friend the new author reached out to me and asked if I would collaborate with them on their Leadership book!

I know I help others because I genuinely want to see everyone thrive. For those who don’t know me, or who don’t trust my motives, let me put it another way.  I’m being “mercenary:” helping other people make the connections they need; envision the business they want and how to get there; and sharing opportunities with them. When they succeed it makes me look good; it shows I can be trusted.  At the end of the day people like to work with people they trust.