Relationship Role Models: Who Inspires You?

Joanna Coles, author of Love Rules shares her secrets for finding love and meaningful personal relationships in our digital age. But how do those guidelines translate in today’s business landscape? My book Digital Persuasion tackles that exact topic—so, Washington Speakers Bureau kindly brought Joanna and me together to help you connect the dots around building more meaningful romantic AND business relationships in today’s modern marketplace. 

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“The couple that hikes together stays together! #HikingHubby”

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“To my better half, I can’t believe thirty years ago today your beautiful soul came into this world (cue unnecessarily long, serious, intimate post worshipping one’s girlfriend) #BirthdayBae”

Let’s be honest.

Social media coupley posts are RARELY reflections of relationship reality. That’s why when choosing your relationship role models, it’s critical to consider people or couples with whom you have actually spent time in the real world, not just the digital one.  In Joanna Coles’ new book Love Rules:  How to Find a Real Relationship in a Digital World, Joanna advises readers to look for relationship role models. Specifically, think about which couples inspire you, ask them what makes their relationship strong, and absorb their wisdom.

In fact, the same applies to business. Business relationships can be difficult to navigate and to sustain, yet they are a cornerstone of corporate success and a meaningful career.  When building your business relationships, look to mentors who inspire YOU for advice.  As you consider mentors, ask yourself these three questions to ensure your potential mentor is someone you truly want to emulate:

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Does your role model possess characteristics, qualities or talents that you wish to achieve for yourself?

I just got back from having lunch with one of my business role models, a man named Rob. Rob is a serial entrepreneur who very recently sold his real estate empire for billions (yes, billions with a B). He started the business with his best bud from grade school out of the back of his truck twenty years ago and is now yachting around the world, flying in private jets and most importantly—supporting incredible philanthropic efforts around children’s education and healthcare. I used to work for Rob almost a decade ago and now I turn to him for advice on everything from scaling various ventures to how yoga and meditation can help bring needed clarity to cloudy business challenges. Rob possesses many characteristics I aspire to improve upon; specifically creativity, work ethic and grit. Even just having a quick lunch with him once a quarter inspires me to improve with the hopes of replicating his level of success someday—financially and spiritually. Who is your Rob? What qualities does he/she possess that inspire you to emulate in your own life?

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Does your role model have a value system that aligns with yours?

One of my role models for a long time was a global retail executive who had retained my agency to help with their social media strategy many years ago. I used to invent all kinds of excuses to spend more time with her just to soak in the way her mind operated. When it came to solving even the toughest challenges affecting hundreds of people, she was literally a genius. Over time, as I got to know her better, I realized that what she truly valued was winning at all costs. Her health and her family frequently took a back seat to her career. Although I still greatly admire this person’s brilliant talents, I eventually realized that her value system was very different than mine. I’ll never forget the time she advised me in so many words that fun should essentially be put on hold until later in life, after you had achieved a certain level of financial security, a certain level of accolades, and other career benchmarks. In that moment, I knew I valued enjoying the journey far too much to continue to aspire to her way of operating. Does your role model place value on people and experiences in a similar way that you do?

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Has your role model succeeded AND failed?

While I’m underwhelmed with the current business trend of glorifying startup failures, it IS important to select someone who has experienced both the deep valleys as well as the highest peaks. Take Sarah Blakely, the self-made billionaire Founder and CEO of Spanx. She failed at standup comedy, law school, fax machine sales… even Disney World demoted her to play a lowly Chipmunk. Unfortunately, I don’t know Sarah Blakely other than her Instagram Stories which are hilarious and typically involve lots of wine, but if I DID, she would be the perfect example of someone who understands both sides of the success coin. Ensuring you can relate to your role model both when things are going great, as well as when things are looking grim will help you spend time learning from people who can truly help you achieve your highest professional potential.

We all want to have successful relationships, in our personal life and in our work life.  However, it’s not always easy to know how to build those.  Start by finding people who inspire you both in what they do and what they value, and ask them for advice on how to they build mutually respectful and valuable relationships in their careers.

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