The Power of Alchemy: Transforming Relationships

Fri, Apr 19, 2024

Some people amplify your value. 

When you’re with them, the whole (the entity you create together) is “greater than the sum of its parts.” I call these alchemical relationships

These relationships are the most important to seek out in business and life. 

With alchemical relationships, what you can accomplish together is a magnified multiple of what you could do alone. 

Alchemy is the process of turning base metals into gold. Alchemical relationships make otherwise base contributions massively more potent when combined. 

The best example I can give you is the archetypal business partnership: the salesperson and the technician. It’s the most common makeup for business partners because it’s such an effective pairing. One partner brings in the business, and the other is responsible for its fulfillment. 

This was our structure at Solutions 8. I joke that I was the mouth and John was the brains. I made promises, and John kept them. Alone, I was a magician without a finale, and John was a mad scientist without an audience. Together, we were an unstoppable assembly line of magic.

These relationships aren’t difficult to find; they’re easy to engineer once you understand what you’re going for. 

But you have to go beyond your comfort zone. 

Alchemical relationships need diversity that generally exceeds what most people naturally encounter.

My first business partner was a married mother of two who was almost 15 years my senior. We needed more in common on any level of analysis. Our Venn diagrams never overlapped from politics and religion to leisure and entertainment. By appearances, we were an odd pairing.

Even so, we were an excellent pairing for what we were trying to accomplish. She was super convincing and made people comfortable knowing a grown-up was in the room. I was an adequate problem solver and could make things happen in the back end. 

You’ll notice that my role with her was the opposite of my role with John. To get the most advantage out of alchemical relationships, it’s important to be fluid about where you belong in the structure. 

It’s never about who you are or what you’re good at; it’s about who you are together.

Most people make the mistake of seeking out other people who are like them. 

There’s a comfort in the familiarity—hence the saying, “Birds of a feather flock together.” But think of every great partnership you’ve ever been privy to, and I’m willing to bet they weren’t anything alike.

You’ve already experienced an alchemical relationship. The trick is to cultivate and nurture them actively. The goal would be for every employee, partner, vendor, and even customer to be alchemical in some way. 

Your pairing should yield more value than either could alone. 

Looking at relationships through this lens changes the way you approach business (and life). It changes the “who” you want to do business and life with. 

What was your most potent alchemical relationship? 

What were you able to accomplish together?