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Relationships Will Carry You Further Than Smarts Alone

By Stewart Gandolf, Chief Executive Officer

“Yeh..I know that you probably know all this, but… sometimes it’s good to refresh your connection with valuable reminders. This is about one of those small-but-vital ideas that help when you use them routinely.” SG

Man wearing a suit sticking hand out for a handshake with business people in backgroundFor doctors, clinical skills are presumed. By definition, doctors are smart people. OK, maybe some are a bit smarter or better at what they do. Certainly, their intelligence (being smart) is essential to success.

But relationship skills are also a significant part of the equation. The people who take the social stuff seriously—regularly building enduring relationships with others—are likely to jump to the next level. And they enjoy even greater success that comes significantly more quickly.

An excellent example that comes to mind is the story of my friend Mike.

Mike and I were in college together and we came to California about the same time. I like to think I’m blessed with a reasonable amount of intelligence. Likewise, my friend Mike was a fairly smart fellow.

In Mike’s business career, being one of the smart people was definitely an important asset. There are a lot of bright, creative people in the entertainment industry—eager and able to demonstrate how smart they are

But Mike had another dynamic working for him.

From a broader perspective, Mike’s rapidly advancing career was also fueled by excellent social skills. His business and professional track skyrocketed—far faster than any of his capable peers. In a highly competitive, rapid-fire industry, Mike moved from PR intern to senior executive positions with A&M Records, CBS Records, and now Time Life.

The personal relationships that he developed and maintained along the way gave him a significant edge. His ability to foster and maintain personal relationships helped him win various opportunities and challenges.

The point is: You’re blessed with having “the smarts,” and intelligence will carry you far. But without the social skills—and absent an extra measure of relationships—advancement and success are much harder to achieve.

That was the case for my friend Mike, but the concept transfers easily to business in general and to healthcare delivery in particular.

The psychology behind this story is a familiar one…

We don’t take the time to recognize the simple truth that: People like doing business with people they like. Consider Dale Carnegie’s iconic book, How to Win Friends & Influence People. It is full of reliable, time-tested business and personal advice. Notably, it was published in 1936…at the time of the Great Depression…when success was hard to find.

The explosive adoption of social media (SM) in America has been fueled in large part by interactions between and among groups and individuals. Hugely popular and widely available SM platforms facilitate connectivity and relationships…even among strangers with only a common interest or mutual interest.

People prefer to have a doctor that they like. But what’s more, most people want a relationship with their healthcare provider. The context of a relationship is “better business” for everyone. It includes greater trust, honest and open communications, and a continuing connection to present and future interaction.

Sometimes, routine business transactions are quick and simple, allowing little time for building rapport or relationship. But for significant interactions—such as creating and fostering a relationship between an advertising agency and a major client as one example—a solid relationship is a necessity for a good working arrangement that leads to success.

The story of my friend Mike is a reminder. In the long run, relationships will carry you further than smarts alone.

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