“The best way to get a good partner is to be a good partner yourself.” – Charlie Munger
That has to be one of my favorite quotes because it is so true. Too many people are focused on getting a good partner yet care not to become a better partner themselves.
We should always be reaching to become better partners because the symbiosis of good partners working together can achieve extraordinary things.
A great real-world, easy to understand example is with top sushi chef Jiro Ono, a little background here. Sukiyabshi Jiro is a three-star Michelin rated sushi restaurant. There is a reason Sukiyabshi Jiro is considered the best, Jiro Ono takes his sushi extremely seriously. He’s a perfect example of an intelligent fanatic. He has worked relentlessly every day for over six decades to increase the quality of the sushi he serves.
Included is having the best ingredients. Jiro has properly positioned his restaurant as a great partner and has built a “seamless web of deserved trust” with key vendors. In the documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi, Jiro and his suppliers describe how each other have attained that deserved trust.
First, If you want to work with the best sushi chef, buy the best and nothing but the best tuna. Jiro’s tuna vendor Fujita does just that, and is the reason why Jiro Ono holds him in high regard. Jiro’s son said that Fujita is the “undisputed champ [in tuna].” The tuna vendor said, “My methods and standards are a little unusual compared to other vendors. I either buy my first choice, or I buy nothing. If ten tuna are for sale, only one can be the best. I buy that one.”
Second, reciprocity is king. Do onto others as you like done onto you. Treat partners well at all times and they will reciprocate. Sukiyabshi Jiro’s shrimp vendor often comes to the fish market in the morning and finds a scarcity of shrimp to buy that day. However, when the best shrimp comes in, he’ll say, “aah, this is worthy of Jiro.” Because Jiro is the best customer in all respects he gets first dibs on the best shrimp.
Third, great partners are choosy in who they partner with. Just because they ask for it doesn’t mean they should be sold to. Jiro’s octopus vendor said, “We are picky about who we sell to. We want customers who appreciate good fish.”
The same was said by Jiro’s rice dealer. In similar fashion to Yvon Chouinard at Patagonia, the rice dealer turns away business from the wrong customers. He said, “The hotel near Takashi’s restaurant came to me. I told them certain rice can only be prepared by Jiro’s disciples. It was the Grand Hyatt Hotel. I told them, ‘No way!’ I said, ‘even if I wanted to sell it to you only Jiro knows how to cook it!’ But I can’t sell it to them just because they ask for it.”
Jiro describes why he chooses his rice dealer, “He’s different from other dealers… He knows so much that’s why we trust him. But sometimes he seems so knowledgeable I worry he’s making it all up!” This is the same line of thinking with all suppliers. They are all specialists in their field and while knowing a lot, they are relentless in being the top of their own niche. A seamless web of deserved trust is created and the outcome is fantastic. Japan considers Jiro Ono a national treasure.