Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘math of favors

The math of favors

Finally, a post of Seth Godin that I like.  Expressions in parentheses are mine, and I edited the post sightly for added comprehension. It goes:

“One of three things is going on in your head when you’re entering into a transaction of any kind:

  • I’m doing you a favor, bud
  • Hey, this guy is doing me a favor
  • This is a favor-less transaction

It’s interesting to think about how this internal monologue affects the way we do business.

A favor, after all, is an investment in a future relationship.

(Mostly, whoever made you a favor, such as lending you a small amount of money, particularly money, and occasionally referred you to a position, he is not about to forget you: He did you a favor and he insists on reminding you that you owe him a favor in return…best way of retaining acquaintances…  Most of the time, when you lend money and you cannot pay back in currency, you usually keep paying back in different kinds of favors that amount to many fold the money you borrowed.  I have witnessed this behavior and experienced it to know that exceptions are pretty rare.)

At the famous old-school pizza joint, they act as if they’re doing just about everyone a favor. (You love pizza, and you like their pizza.  Where else could you get what you love?)

No need to answer the phone nicely, smile, or add just a little bit extra to that pie.

Godin’s first law of pizza joints:  Quality is often inversely proportional to niceness.

(I recall a movie by Spike Lee about an Italian-origin family feeding a Black community pizza.  The juvenile delinquent grew big, and the owner of the pizzeria boasted that the community owe him a favor because they lived on pizza.  Soon, the youth in the community caught up with the spirit of the time, civil rights movement, and realized there is more to life…than eating pizza…)

Whether or not they are actually doing you a favor by selling you this pizza, they believe they are, and act accordingly.

On the other hand, when your buddy Lorne Michaels does you a favor and gets his friend Steve Martin to stop by your kid’s birthday party, it’s really obvious that a favor is being done. So you bend over backwards, you’re dancing at the edge of obsequiousness, putting as much extra on the table as you can get away with. After all, he’s doing you a favor.

And most of the time, it’s the third category: business as usual.

My hope is that during business as usual, you’re aggressively over delivering, but still, it’s not like they’re doing you a favor by transacting with you. It’s an exchange, a sustainable transaction, where both sides win.

The disconnect happens when one party in the transaction thinks he’s doing the other guy a favor… but the other guy doesn’t act that way in return.

In fact, when both sides think they’re doing the other a favor, it’s a meltdown. The flip-side is great–when both sides act as if the other guy is doing them a favor.

The shortcut to success is this: why not always act as if the other guy is doing the favor?” End of quote


Indeed, “why not always act as if the other guy is doing the favor?”  On the individual level, this is a great attitude and very profitable.

On the flip-side, it is the worst case scenario among States.

The third alternative is more effective:  Each State in the negotiation table thinks of doing the other parties favors, but act neutral.

For example, why western States, European and the US think that they are doing developing States favors by launching preemptive wars, strikes, and financial embargoes?

Why after developing countries successfully win a mass revolution, and in non-violent revolts, do western States butt-in to grab the largest piece of the favor pie?

As if in this wretched poor countries nothing can be done without prior planning of the intelligence agencies of the veto-power States in the UN?

After all, it is the Egyptian citizens who got killed, injured, and stood steadfast in mostly non-violent sit-ins and marches…Why the US Administration feels that it has to propagate the message that the upheaval was successful because it sided against Mubarak, finally?

Why does the US Administration encourage power sharing between the military and the religious Sunni “Moslem Brotherhood” political parties and movements, in Turkey, Tunisia, Egypt…?

Is there any role to the secular and liberal factions in Arab/Islamic States withing the western propaganda?

What kinds of “alternative democracy” has the US created? How it is described?




February 2023

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