I just got back to Boston after spending three days at SHRM (the largest human resource show) in Chicago. It was a great show and just the second HR show I have attended. There were upwards of 14,000 attendees not including the exhibitors and volunteers. The expo hall was very big and there were a lot of exhibitors including many of our competitors.
I had a very healthy chat with employees of some of our staunchest competitors. We generally talked about our companies, how big each of us were, about each other’s booth traffic, how each of us were finding the show, where we thought the industry was going etc. None of the topics that would have made either one of us uncomfortable ever came up – nothing about our products, where we are headed in terms of our roadmap etc.
I always find these conversations very refreshing because they are conversations between two human beings without seeing each other as business enemies. I have always believed that it is all about people relationships and not products. Some of the people I talked to were very fun loving folks like all of us are – they were also good at what they do like all of us are. The fact that they worked for my staunchest competitor was largely irrelevant.
These very friendly conversations reminded me of the saying I have heard so many times “Always respect your competition and then beat them”.
After all life is short, why not enjoy every minute of it with everyone you meet.