One of the things that’s bizarre to us today that wasn’t bizarre twenty years ago is how we make friends.
Twenty years ago, friends were either local or gatekeeped. Social networking sites weren’t as widespread and international as today, so grade school was the primary way to make friends. And, if you were at an exclusive college or working at a company, you had to be “in” to be friends with the people there.
Neither of those barriers exists today, so while making friends has gotten easier, making good friends has gotten harder.
Two years ago, I wrote that finding friends is like talent acquisition. The premise was that each person should filter for friends, like startup recruiters filter for early employees. Brian Chesky, the founder of Airbnb, spent so many months interviewing potential candidates his co-founders begged him to stop. Patrick Collision, the co-founder of Stripe, spent two years hiring the first five employees at Stripe.
Brian and Patrick spent so much time on early hires because they understood that each new person, after the first ten employees, who entered that department would be a duplicate of the root/first hire. And, if the root weren’t planted well, the tree would get destroyed during the first storm.
I don’t conduct code reviews or rigorous interviews with people I might be interested in for friendship. But there are some qualities I think about, so I thought I’d share.
Qualities of a good friend
Good friends disagree with you. They don’t exclaim you’re wrong as a quote of their disagreement. Instead, they’ll recommend a path to truth that may or may not lead to correctness. The important part is that they are never yes-men. Even when they don’t know a topic well, do they ask questions that poke holes in your logic?
To reasonably disagree with you, a person has to understand what you’re talking about or know the areas around a topic well. They can’t say, “the metaverse isn’t going to happen,” without reason. It’s the basics of argument; evidence needs to be presented. Opinions alone aren’t permitted.
Independent thinkers and builders do this well, perhaps because their free time is spent understanding the principles of the world.
Good friends have specific knowledge. The best conversations I’ve had are with people who…