Kennon-Green & Co. Fiduciary Financial Advisor, Wealth Management, Global Value Investing

The Nature of True Friendship

I have a theory that true intimacy, whether in friendship, business, or romantic entanglements, is based upon the degree to which one must censor himself or herself. People are happiest when they do not have to censor or edit what comes out of their mouth and they don’t have to concern themselves with the possibility of being judged.

On the flip side of the Janus coin, relationships suffer when one party feels they must start watching their words or actions.

Personally, I think the best way to test this is a disclosure exercise. Imagine you just got a $100,000 Christmas bonus for doing some spectacular out-of-this-world job (or, if you are self-employed, you sign a big contract with a huge client).

Think about all of the people in your life. Now, make a list of the people who fit all of the following criteria:

  • When you told them (understandably, you are bursting with excitement and want to share the news), they were nothing but happy for you. You don’t have to worry about envy at all.
  • Not once do they accuse you of bragging or one-upping people. They know that in the journey of life, the fact that you accomplished this means something to you.
  • You don’t have to worry about them wanting something from you. They have no ulterior motive.

For example, if my close friends were to start their own business, grow it over years, and sell it for $100 million, I would want them to call me, screaming with joy, talking about their hopes and dreams and what they will do with their newfound fortune. Absolutely nothing would change in our friendship. Honestly, I wouldn’t even offer to manage the cash for them unless they approached me and insisted because I prefer to keep my own kingdom, to some degree.

Warren Buffett once said that his first wife had a friend who was a holocaust survivor. She defined this type of person – a true friend – as “someone that would hide you” when the Nazis came. You’d never need to worry about being turned in, regardless of the potential reward or punishment.

Find these people in your life and surround yourself with them. They will pay more dividends than any stock you could ever hope to own.