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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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I overheard my partner Sean (aka Mr. Daytrotter) saying to someone who asked who I was, “That’s George, my partner, he does the hard stuff.”

The interesting thing about this is that I’ve said the same thing about Sean. I truly believe that it’s Sean who does the hard stuff.

To me this is in important element of a partnership.

If both partners think they do the hard stuff, or, worse, if one thinks *they* do the hard stuff, and their partner does the easy stuff, it ain’t gonna work.

Almost as bad is when both do the same stuff, and neither can do certain things. At that point, why have a partner at all?

This is true in biz and in relationships. I know definitively that my wife does the hard stuff by being a stay-at-home Mom with a husband who travels as much as I do.

I also know that while she could do what I do better than I do it, that she knows that I too do some hard stuff that she would rather do less than what she is doing (being a rock star Mom).

Value alignment is what makes relationships and businesses work. Having your values in line doesn’t mean you are the same as the other person, but rather that you understand and value your partner; that you have empathy, and that you are not ego driven, but rather driven by what you’re building – be it a biz or a family.

[apologies for typos and other crimes against grammar/prose – this was written on my phone while sitting at a bar during SXSW.]

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