As Gibbons has grown and diversified over the years, partners have become a critical part of our success.
We choose our partners wisely and with intent. They span our organizations, throughout our various businesses. We partner with community organizations and people, just as we collaborate with businesses as we look to further diversify and grow.
We look for companies and people with our same values and energy — fun and trustworthy, hardworking and principled.
But that’s only part of the deal. There is another aspect to partnerships, a critical part, if they are to be fruitful and long lasting. They must be a partnership of equals.
Take one of the more recent partnerships with Deep Cove Brewers and Distillers. Gibbons partnered with the North Vancouver-based brewers in 2014. We wanted to make beer. They knew how to do just that.
Deep Cove had the hard-working energy, values and the fun we were looking for in a partner. They also had the expertise. Gibbons brought something unique to the table too — an instant distribution network through our Whistler venues. It was a deal that worked both ways, a partnership to serve both sides.
From the outset, we created a 50/50 deal. It simply couldn’t work any other way. This is something I believe in strongly. It’s a philosophy that not everyone shares in business. In my mind however, anything other than a partnership of equals creates insecurity, and insecurity is a sure way to kill business. Without 50/50, there is a level of distrust. Why create a working culture of worry and fear? If we’re on equal footing, we can stay focused on our end goal of mutual success.
In much the same way, I balk at lease opportunities for Gibbons. I’d rather partner. Why lease, and risk the chance of a landlord raising the rent when we build up the business and become successful?
It reminds me of a concept in a book I’m re-reading right now called The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. In it, author Stephen R. Covey, talks about Habit 4 as “Think Win-Win”.
Business, as in life, doesn’t have to be about a winner and a loser. You don’t have to define your self-worth in comparison to others. It’s a lesson on repeat at my home with four young kids. If we work together in cooperation rather than competition, we can all have more fun. Admittedly, it’s not an easy concept to grasp at 8 years old, nor at 38!
Covey says that an organization or person that approaches conflicts with a win-win attitude has three character traits: integrity, maturity and an abundance mentality. In other words, they believe there’s plenty out there and more than enough to share.
I couldn’t agree more.
I’m often asked about my “angle” when it comes to creating partnerships, what I’m hoping to get out of it. The angle is: there is no angle. We simply want to create successful businesses and see people succeed.
The trick is to trust your gut; stay true to your values; create a framework of equals where both sides can not just survive but also thrive; take any conflict out of the game and set the scene for all sides to win. After all, isn’t that the end goal?