How to Work With Your Friends, and Become Friends With The People You Work With


Success comes at a price. And it is often at the expense of your friends.

If you're working so hard that you don't have time to see your friends, I am one of you.

And we're not alone. The author and humorist, David Sedaris describes how our life is like a stove with four burners--work, family, friends and health--in one of his funniest articles, Laugh Kookabura. In order to be successful, he says, you need to turn one burner off. In order to be really successful you need to turn off two. And adds that, for him, the first burner to go was friends.

The lesson is that in life you cannot have everything. There is never enough time, energy and resources. That is, unless you can get creative and make sure that what you want and what you need can co-exist. This is called dichotomy resolution and it is one of my favorite design tools. It helps you figure out how to have your cake and eat it too.

So how can you work hard and have time with your friends?

Work with your friends and become friends with the people with whom you work. This is my motto, and here's how you can learn to live by it.

1. Tap into your friends for talent

Imagine how much fun Beyonce and tennis star Serena Williams had dancing while filming a music video for her 'Lemonade' album. The trust between legendary photographer Irving Penn and Japanese fashion designer Issey Miyake was such that Miyake never attended Penn's photo shoots. Friendship between Larry Page, Google Founder, and Ellon Musk, founder of Tesla and Space-X, encompasses Musk staying over at Page's home as well as Page's readiness to leave his billions to Musk so that his friend can continue to change the world. How much fun they must have together while inspiring and supporting each other's vision.

"I was looking for one person who could look at my clothing, hear my voice, and answer me back through his own creation. Through his eyes, Penn-san reinterprets the clothes, gives them new breath, and presents them to me from a new vantage point. He shows me what I do." -Issey Miyake

Enlist your friends in your next big project and suddenly you will have many reasons to talk, laugh and produce something meaningful together.

2. Fail in the safety of your friends

I do all my creative experiments with my friends. They're the ones who helped me refine and simplify my design process, Deconstruction:Reconstruction, before teaching it to anyone else. They were my guinea pigs for Design the Life You Love workshops and to this day, I will test my new tools on them (including a new seminar that I'm leading this weekend).

I say, better to fail in the safety of friends in order to succeed in the presence of strangers.

3. Go to the office to be with friends

My kids love school because it is where all their friends are. They work but they have fun, laugh, support each other in times of need and they collaborate.

Try going to the office like a kid going to school. To work for sure, but also for camaraderie and mutual support.

4. Promote your friends

One of the biggest lessons my friend the author and executive coach Marshall Goldsmith taught me and my fellow 100 Coaches cohorts is to augment each other's successes. Goldsmith made us realize that when you are friends with people you work with, you're proud of their successes. So now when one of us publishes an article, gets a reward or gets a promotion, we are unabashed about bragging about our friends.

Be explicit and make a pact with your friends to celebrate each other's wins on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter. They deserve it.

5. Be yourself, even at the office

When Sheryl Sandberg posted about her grief over her husband's death on Facebook, where she is the COO, she inspired 70,000 people to reply to show their support and share their own stories (more on that in Sandberg's new book Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy,which she wrote with her friend, author Adam Grant).

When Indra Nooyi, PepsiCo's CEO, talked on camera, very candidly and with great humor, about the challenges of being a mom, she made it ok for so many of us working mothers to acknowledge that it is hard no matter how hard we try.

Be yourself at work and in the process, inspire others to be themselves too. Because that is how we are with our friends and it is how we can make new friends.

You can't have everything in life. But you can have your friends and work with them too.

Design the life and work you love!