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Five Rules for Balancing Business and Friendship

From RLI Corp. Vice President, Executive Products Group, A. Q. “Skip” Orza:

1. Never renege on your handshake. Multimillion-dollar, complex deals are sealed by handshakes or verbal agreements on the phone, and you live by them. If you don’t honor them on paper afterward, you’ll lose longstanding friendships that are productive business-wise and socially.

2. No ethical shortcuts. Be open and honest in everything you do, go the distance to make sure all that you do is on the up and up. By the same token, make sure you associate with colleagues/friends with the same ethical and moral compass.

3. Defend the inner circle. Watch the people around you; see if they try to cut corners or find an easy way out of things — cheating on taxes, taking financial shortcuts. If you notice that they do these things in their personal lives or in social situations, they’re almost certain to do it in their business dealings.

4. Stick to win-win situations. Make sure every deal you make is mutually beneficial — to you and your company, and to your colleague and your colleague’s company. In short, make sure each deal makes good business sense for all involved.

5. Don’t ask, don’t sell. Never ask colleagues to compromise business standards for you just because you’re down and need the business. And they should never ask the same of you.

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