How to win a debate

Winning a debate isn’t about proving the other party is wrong. It’s about proving you are right. In fact it’s about proving that you are more correct, even a little bit.

Then, by inference the other party must be wrong.

Although that’s a nice tip, debating is hardly the approach we need in any part of a startup business. The best advice we can give here is to never enter a debate, and let the other party believe they are right. Startups are about building relationships, not sabotaging them.


New York Series: Bloomingdales – You’re Welcome, really.

The historically significant department store Bloomingdales do some pretty cool stuff. This includes the ‘Visitor discount’ they provide:



Yep, if you’re from another country you automatically receive an 11% discount on everything you buy. Now, this isn’t one of those trick promotions, impossible to get, with 100 other conditions. You simply go to the visitor center pictured above and show them your passport, or overseas license and that is it.  And the discount is real, even if an item is on promotion or already discounted, you get the 11% on top of that. I was fortunate enough to get an incredible winter jacket which was already half price (end of winter discount, even though it was actually snowing outside) with an additional 11%. I was pretty happy. They also have a gift incentive if you spend over $200, and yep, I got my gift…

It get’s better, they also have personal shopping assistants, Multi-lingual assistants to take your around store and free hotel delivery for purchases greater that $250. You can read more about it here.

Sure, discounting isn’t always the path to profitability, but when you are taking one time customers, making them feel special, with ‘money to spend’,  under your wing, it’s pretty clear that they are ‘inventing revenue’.

What does your startup do to ‘invent revenue’?


Prices vs Relationship

A while ago Philip Welnman spoke at the Hive. (Australian Entrepreneurial forum) One thing he said struck me, and I think it’s true

“Without relationships we can’t win. We never lose business over price, it’s always the relationship, and price is the fall guy.

Sure, there’s probably some exceptions, like commodity trading. But who wants to trade commodities anyway?

Steve –

Business relationships & startups

Entrepreneurs must build all types of relationships.

  • Relationships with our suppliers and the value chain
  • Relationships with our buyers & resellers
  • Relationships with our staff and business partners / investors
  • Relationships with our audience & evangelists

In fact, when we are small have little or no revenue, the only thing we can do is have conversations and build relationships. These will lead to action and revenue. While having dinner with a colleague the other night, John Colbert of Corporate Edge training he gave me his view on relationships.

He said:

There are two important factors in relationships – frequency & proximity.

How frequently are we engaging the other person? Where frequency, is any type of conversation, communication or interaction.

And what is our proximity to this person? Where proximity pertains to the physical closeness and real world interactions we have together. Do we meet in person? Are we getting to know each other without the use of technology? Simply meeting in the same location?

The more of the above two things we have the stronger our relationships come. If we for a moment think of who we have strong relationships with, we’ll see we have both Frequency and Proximity.

The reality is humans want to deal with people they like, trust and know. This is what relationships build.

So if one of our important business relationships (those listed above) is flagging, maybe we should have more frequent interactions, get closer or do both.