Who do you “go with?”

I was recently with my friends Troy and Charlie Ball (there’s no way I can adequately explain what makes Troy and Charlie so inspiring, but this will give you a good sense of why I do (scroll down to the “Marshall, Coulton and Luke, The Sons” section)).

We were at a gathering and Troy was making introductions. She introduced all of those in the group, including her husband, Charlie, as only a classy Southern woman can; in that way that makes everyone feel special. At the end of the introductions she added this line: “I go with Charlie.”

Those three words — “I go with” — have stayed with me since she said them.

Certainly, the phrase is partly a Southern colloquialism, but that’s not why it resonated with me. Rather, it impacted me because it so succinctly articulates a relationship of values.

The choices we make with respect to who we “go with” define us.

Certainly, I “go with” Marci, and with Annabelle, and Henry. But I also “go with” my friends, and I “go with” those with whom I work.

Going with the people with whom your values align is challenging today, because we’re bombarded with the possibility to “go with” just about anyone.

In this era where we’re constantly filtering, sorting, adding and subtracting the people we “go with” — following people on Twitter/Facebook, subscribing to RSS feeds/Tumblr blogs, and working on myriad projects — it becomes increasingly important, and often increasingly difficult, to “go with” the people we really should.

For individuals, this is a problem because the people with whom we shouldn’t go, but still do to some degree, diminish the attention we can spend with those with whom we should go.

For firms, the problem is more about the opportunity cost associated with non-value adding customers. Social media gives the illusion that a company can connect to pretty much any customer (we’re all on FB, right?). But, of course, the reality is that unless the values of the company align with those of the customer, reaching them/connecting with them does no good, and often does harm.

We’re very much in the era of “curation,” (it’s the only antidote to information overload). Discerning, therefore, who and what you “go with” has taken on a heightened importance.

[Disclosure: I have proudly assisted Troy & Charlie in the lead up to the launch of their Moonshine.]

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