What is a friend?

Business, and especially online marketing, is all about trading. Advertisers, publishers, agencies, networks, and exchanges trade ad impressions, clicks, and conversions for money. A deal takes place when supply meets demand. Simple economics. This is why in business you sometimes work with people that you don’t really like. It’s all very rational, mostly about numbers.

In my personal life I want the complete opposite. I don’t want to negotiate deals and I certainly don’t want to spend my time with people that I don’t like. I want to be with good and honest people, not worry about numbers, and simply have a good time.

Still, I feel I’m sometimes surrounded by people that treat personal relationships like business. They have this “what’s in for me” attitude and constantly try to get the most out of you just for themselves. They mostly demand and hardly don’t offer, they usually take and don’t give, they consume and don’t contribute, they talk a lot and act very little.

Even if you think these people are your “friends”, they are really not. They are just acquaintances and will be around only as long as you have something that they want. Once you have nothing to offer to them anymore you will never hear from them again. So don’t waste your time with these bullshitters, life is too short.

What is a friend then? It’s actually quite simple:

A friend is a person who does something for you without expecting anything in return, in the present or in the future. A friend is happy to help you out and will never ask you to return the favor. He will leave it up to you to show your gratitude.

Let me give you an example:

Last week I went to dmexco in Cologne, Germany’s main digital marketing exposition and conference. Originally I was planning to go there on Tuesday, do some meetings on Wednesday and then leave to be back in the office on Thursday. So I didn’t even bother getting a ticket for Wednesday night’s big party (OMClub).

It turned out that I had to stay until Thursday and do all of our meetings. All the people that I knew were planning to go to that party and all the tickets had been gone for days or weeks already. So I just called a friend of mine and asked him whether he thought he could organize an extra ticket for me.

Here is the important part: Without even thinking about it he immediately replied saying that I shouldn’t worry and that he would sort me out. He told me to call him once I get to the venue and he would get me in. And it all went exactly as he promised. I gave him a call and there he was with an extra ticket. He was happy to give it to me and didn’t ask for anything in return.

That is a friend.

An acquaintance would have asked for something in return, trying to get something out of my situation. Maybe not that night, but sooner or later an acquaintance would have brought up the ticket story for his own benefit. Now think about it, of those people that you usually hang out with, who are your real friends?

Thanks Ingo, I owe you one.