Let's cut to the chase, the lesson is this one. If you embark into a project with other people based on common interest, there is a good chance that it will end badly.
Common interest is just not good enough to stand the test of time. Once the personal interests of each individual move away from each other, what will be left? This is the biggest lesson that I had to learn and re-learn, and still to this day, I pay the price for not having taken enough attention to this. If you embark on a project with other people on the sole criteria of common interests, then quit when the common interests seem still aligned and seem achieved at their highest possible potential. Quit even if it means giving away any future potential. Quit even if it means giving away a part of the realised value. Just Quit. Because when you reach this stage, the only route for your seemingly aligned common interests is to go on their separate ways. And then you run the risk of suffering a totally disproportionate pain.
Let me give you an obvious example. As you may have gathered in some of my posts, I have been back trading the stock market on a more regular basis. I used to have a portfolio of stocks which I collected like you collect stamps. For life or near life. These stocks ended up there by design or by accident, which is when you keep a stock that lost most of its value, because you did not accept to sell and realise the loss. The building of this portfolio was made under the wrong assumption that my interests were totally aligned with those companies and with Mr Market. Well, one thing is for sure, my interests can be aligned with Mr market for a few minutes, hours or days, but not much longer. As soon as he can, and as many times as he can, he tries to screw me.
So now, I trade very differently. I am mostly in cash. And when Mr Market seems to have aligned its interests with mine, I do a trade (with a bit of risk management), but I only give Mr Market a few minutes or hours to reveal his real intentions. If he agrees with me, we stay together for a few more minutes or hours. If he disagrees and starts to screw me, we go our separate ways and I get out. I do not have to own a long list of stocks in my account. And I do not have to worry about them.
Of course, Mr Market is the worst schizophrenic psychopath type of person you would ever meet, so it's advisable to stay aligned with him for only a few minutes or hours. But in life, you may meet some people which you may be better of being aligned with only for a few days, weeks or months, not years or decades.
So how can you live with others if your interests are always at risk of being torn apart?
Well, we are back to the values. If you embark into a project with other people based on common values, there is a good chance that it will last forever. Common values will stand the test of time. Common values will realign interests when they diverge, because they are more powerful than momentary interests.
At this stage, I need to give you this other example. I have been investing a little bit in very raw startups in the past 2-3 years. Not large investments, only a few hundred pounds here and there from time to time, on projects I like, which I find on a crowd funding platform. In a sense, it is my little way of contributing back into the startup community and say thank you.
So I invested £500 in 2018 in a small company called ASAP WaterCraft. Early 2020, bang at the start of Covid, this company who is designing, manufacturing and selling a product in the leisure industry went for another round of financing. Frankly, very bad timing... Their CEO Ross Kemp sent me, alongside with all past investors and would be future investors, at least 2 emails per week. They needed £150,000.
Each week, Ross kept us up to date, of how much funding they were reaching, how much was missing. I frankly had taken the view that he had to work his way and find investors, but it would not be me. Not in this new context of hardship. He continued to send emails... A few days before the deadline, they were still short of the funding target, which under the funding conditions meant that he would get nothing. He sent me another personal email explaining that I needed to invest £47 to keep the same shareholding after dilution.
I looked again at this company, their ethos, their product, and this guy Ross who is putting his soul and life into it, and I thought: we share the same values. Who cares if my interest is to not give him £47 today, and his interest is for me to give him maybe double that. Who cares about our misaligned short-term interest, if our values are aligned?
I committed to invest another £150 into his company. It looks like a few others acted in a similar way. On the deadline day, they raised 102% (£4,380 more than the target), which allowed them to get funded. Our values were aligned, and I truly believe that this is what saved his company, because like me, a few hundreds of other small investors said "Yes Ross, we share your values. Go create big things, go disrupt this world, we have 100% trust in you".
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If you are not too sure where you are in your journey, ask yourself this question: Am I in there for short-term interests? Am I working alongside someone who is only a little nicer version of Mr Market right now? Or am I building something with someone who shares the same values? Am I building for life? And for after life? Am I building a legacy?
If you are not yet thinking in those terms, think again. The best journeys are not made through achieving personal interests, but through building a legacy. Think again!
To your journey!