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  • Writer's pictureMatthew T. Taylor

The Goal: 1+1=3

Today's note is about the value of partnerships in whatever form they take. Some of us experience partnership in the form of marriage. Others in the professional world experience the corporate form of marriage, mergers and acquisitions (M&A). If you screw up a marriage, generally there is a lot of screaming and your personal belongings get thrown in the street. If you screw up an acquisition, generally there is a lot of screaming and then you collect your personal belongings in box and take them to the street.

One of my favorite partnerships comes from a scene in Batman Begins, regarded as one of the best superhero movies of all time, where Batman tries to recruit help within the Gotham Police department (fast forward to 0:40 in the video). Bruce Wayne realizes the situation in Gotham City is so dire he needs support if he has any chance of success So, Wayne, not quite Batman at this point, approaches Police Sergeant Jim Gordon and asks what will it take to bring down the mob. After answering, Gordon asks Wayne "You're just one man?" Wayne answers "Now we're two."

Congratulations, Bruce and Jim, you both just executed a joint venture agreement.

If you ever team up with me to work on something, eventually I will say "now we're two" while we are working together. It is a bad joke. I will not apologize.

In the corporate world, most mergers and acquisitions are built on the premise if we combine one company with another, the result will be greater than simple addition. In other words, 1+1>2. A fancy way of saying this is synergy.

My question to you all today is: who is your partner?

1 + 0 will never equal 3.*

You need a partner. We all need partners.

A partner can be a husband or wife who dwarfs us intellectually, yet he or she sacrifices to stay home and raise children. Or friends we share similar values with that tell us exactly what they would do in that situation. If you look behind great heroes in our world's history, rarely will you find just one person who accomplished the feat. Peel back the onion and you will find a husband, wife, business partner, or an associate that was the hero's sounding board, logical counter point, or devil's advocate. Alan Turing, widely credited as the father of artificial intelligence, had Joan Clarke. Joan, in some academic circles considered intellectual superior to Alan, was a critical partner as the two decrypted the Nazi Enigma ciphering system.

In closing, whatever your passion is in life, realize that you can achieve so much more with a partner. In all my pursuits, I am looking for opportunities to make 1+1=3. Be careful. Not all partnerships are effective. You must choose wisely. A McKinsey study demonstrated that only 38% of mergers achieve expected revenue synergies. We all know the marriage statistics.

Regardless, do not let these statistics deter you. Find your partner. Find your chance to make 1+1=3.

* Technically, 1+1 will never equal 3 either. I get it. You are not reading an algebra blog.

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