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Wednesday, February 2, 2022 at 9:37:02 PM

I ran into a fellow American* nomad at a cafe in Buenos Aires. We discussed a lot of things including marriage and starting a company. Both marriage and startups—co-founders—require a high level of trust. He was a successful single, indie founder, ruminating on marriage and co-founder partnerships.

Partnerships are difficult in our modern world. We live in a culture of abundance that focuses personal satisfaction. If something or someone is not making us happy, it is easy to move onto something or someone else. Great in many ways. Quietly pernicious in others.

I have had fairly successful partnerships in love and business. My wife and I are happily married. In business, I had a 8+ year relationship with a co-founder. We have since (mostly) separated but I believe that separation was done in a healthy, “successful” way. We both have positive feelings towards each other, interact when we can, and cheer each other on.

So how do you form successful partnerships? Trust first.

Acting well and trusting others will respond in kind has been a successful strategy for me. My personal experience is supported by game theory. The tit for tat strategy has been shown to lead to the best results.

An agent using this strategy will first cooperate, then subsequently replicate an opponent's previous action. If the opponent previously was cooperative, the agent is cooperative. If not, the agent is not.

My childhood was mostly idyllic (perhaps boring). My family and those I interacted with treated me fairly and acted in good faith. This made it easy to have a generous spirit with others. I recognize that this may not be other people experience. Important relationships may not have laid a foundation of trust.

Despite negative experiences, we need to trust first. It is the best strategy for building meaningful partnerships.

  • There isn’t a better label for a US citizen than American but I know that Central and South American’s resent that we appropriate the term. ¯_(ツ)_/¯

This post was not edited. If you see a typo, let me know and I'll fix it.