Thursday, January 19, 2006

The Art of Friendship - Roger & Sally Horchow

This is a very enjoyable and engaging read that left me highly motivated to do a better job at being a more attentive friend. It was a Christmas gift from a friend who is also an agent with the same company that I work for. He is great about doing all of the thoughtful things that keep friendships alive, and not coincidentally, he is one of the company's top agents as well. Although this book is not about building relationships in the business sense, there's no question there is a great deal of skill overlap in how we maintain relationships in both our personal and professional lives.

Roger Horchow is the pioneering catalogue retailer from Dallas and Sally is his daughter. The forward to the book is written by Malcolm Gladwell, author of Blink and The Tipping Point. Gladwell actually profiles Roger Horchow in chapter two of the Tipping Point entitled "The Law of the Few: Connectors, Mavens and Salesmen." Some people are natural connectors and it's obvious that Roger is one of them. He genuinely enjoys people and he enjoys bringing people he knows together. I must admit I enjoy doing that also, but engage in that practice primarily in the business world.

My kids' reaction to the book when I opened it Christmas morning was very funny: "Why did he give you a book on friendship? Does he think you don't have any?" And from another one: "Why did he give you a self-help book on friendship? Does he think you're no good at it?" This is Generation Y speaking. Chip was floored at their response - but then he has no teenagers.

In the preface to the book I'm currently reading, The Rise of the Creative Class, author Richard Florida observes the following: "Our family structures are morphing. The kinds of communities we need to support us are changing, as we replace a small number of strong-tie relationships with a much greater number of weak-tie relationships." This is very true in a world where people are far more mobile than they used to be. I live three states away from my immediate family and don't see them very often. Growing up, I spent summers at my Granny's house in a small Virginia town where her home was a social center for her many friends who came by for card parties, dinner parties, barbeques or just a chat on the porch. She had known most of these people for most of her life. I have few friends that fit that description, and most people in my current world have a similar network of more transient relationships - ones dependent on where they are working, living or the activities they are engaged in at the moment.

At the end of the day, no matter how successful we are in business, if we don't make the time or acquire the skills to have a strong network of friends - where's the reward? Titles, money and acquisitions are a poor substitute for genuine and caring relationships. This book is bound to inspire anyone who reads it to make more of an effort to nurture their friendships.

** Note: Author Sally Horchow informs me that this was an exlusive first edition I received and it has sold out. The second printing will be available in October and can be pre-ordered from

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