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Building relationships at scale

Giving first.

Can you deliver your message in a book? A five page essay? A paragraph? A sentence? A single word? What do Simon Sinek, Tony Robbins, Greg McKeown, and Gary Vaynerchuk have in common? What makes their writing successful?

Many of them don’t even write the books themselves.

Controlling Adoption

They give from the first point of contact. They distill their message into a slogan or a sentence. No matter how much time you have and how much attention you’re willing to give, you’re always getting something.

Start With Why. Become Unshakable. Essentialism. Minimalism. Give, Give, Give, Ask.

You get the picture. It’s enticing. You get the value. It’s the advice in the title. If you decide to go further on the topic, you can pick your attention span. You can watch the video, read the blog post, subscribe to their content or buy the book.


They provide versions of their message for a variety of attention spans. Whether you have five seconds, 10 minutes, or 5 hours, you can get it.

Take Simon Sinek’s book Start With Why. You can read the blog post, watch the TED talk, or buy the book. I read all of it, but I got all the value from the video.

The book is nice but the core message — the “people don’t buy what you do they buy why you do it”, is brilliantly and sufficiently communicated in the talk.

Let’s say you go on from the post to the talk and you don’t buy the book. Now you’re getting most the value they’re bringing with this message. What’s next?

If you appreciate it you’re already paying back with your attention. In case you sign up for a mailing list or share it with your friends, you give them a portion of your regular attention.

A regular banner slot in your mind.

When a brand achieves that regular attention, it becomes an influence. It creates leverage.

Code and media are permissionless leverage. (…) If you can’t code, write books and blogs, record videos and podcasts. (…) Leverage is a force multiplier for your judgment.
— Naval Ravikant in How To Get Rich Without Getting Lucky

Money Is Not the Point

The relationship seems economic at first, but it doesn’t have to be. You can choose to take in all you want for free. You can choose to accept the influence.

Essentially, you can build a transformational relationship with anyone who is giving away honest and valuable content. You can build your circle of influence out of people you’ve never met because they’re willing to help you first.

They give up front.

The relationship would stand even if you didn’t buy anything. It may start out as a transaction, but you can choose to make it transformational. As Benjamin P. Hardy elegantly explains:

By very nature, transformational relationships are about giving the most you possibly can in attempts of helping others. They’re about advancing other people’s goals in a synergistic and win-win way.

Your relationship isn’t transformational if it doesn’t change you. If you’re not getting better. And if there aren’t generous gifts given without compulsion.

Relationships At Scale

We have an unforeseen opportunity to build relationships with people that would be otherwise out of our reach. You can form your circle of influence from the people you follow.

For a while now, I choose to be influenced by Casey Neistat and Jordan Peterson. I bought one book from Jordan and never bought anything from Casey. The relationship is transformational but not economic.

Giving Without Compulsion

Give always. Give from the first point of contact.

Ask: ‘How can I serve you?’

Give out favors. No matter what kind of exposure you have if you want to build a relationship, share your message. Share your values.

When you put others in front of yourself, whether intended or unintended, things just happen. It’s magical.

Be it in life or business, I implore you to always seek to be the giver first. If you can give without expectation, you’ve got everything to gain.
— Gary Vaynerchuk

You can start with just a sentence, and it may bring value to someone.

You can build real relationships with people at scale, and they might even reward you for it.


Originally published in The Startup on

Martin Uhnak