Vital Friends is the kind of book that social scientists and business people like. Vital friends explains something we all kind of know as a common truth, but backs it up with facts.
Friendship in life and work counts. As an anthropologist with a quant background in finance, science and applied technology, I constantly find myself using soft skills to bring impact to traditionally "hard areas".
At the end of the day the outcomes of any product or service are emotional benefits. Even cash in the bank gives satisfaction or security via spending, having, boasting or sharing.
Vital friends is all about relationships, a word we males typically only hear when something is going wrong and we most likely aren't going to be having sex in the near future :)
Relationships count. Marketers are constantly trying to build relationships between us and stuff, but the most important ones are with people.
A good friend of mine recently mentioned that he doesn't "get close" to the people at work as he want to be more professional. Big mistake. Getting close, doesn't mean a big hug fest, but it does mean listening sharing and maybe a little out of work collaboration.
People spend more time at work with colleagues than they with their families. It seems silly not to foster a sense of caring and respect with people around one at work.
The book vital friends shows how important this is and backs it up with empirical data. Work environments where people care are work environments where amazing results happen. This kind of reminds me of the core findings of Good To Great by Jim Collins. The long term sustainable business winners grow via their people. Those are people who are passionate and have strong culture.
A great company is a belief system that spins of lots of great externalities, one of which is growth and cash. It boils down to the old story about the 2 men cutting stone in the 15th century. One of them when asked says he is a stone cutter, the other says he is building a cathedral. Now imagine 2 team or organizations made of 2 such people. Who would you bet on and who would you want to work with.
For those who think it is all about the numbers (and yes I am a quant MBA by training), I would urge reading these books and then listening to the people around you at work and home. What do they care about and more importantly, what do they think you care about. Ask the people in your lives to list out what they think you care about. Hopefully they put people or their own names on the list.
Some of the highest compliments I have received from people I have worked with is that I listened and they knew I cared about them.
Building something important means building something for and with people. Those who understand that become the biggest winners in companies and societies.