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Jul 13, 2021

Would you like some advice from an entrepreneur who built a $2 billion real estate investment firm? As entrepreneurs, it is easy to become consumed in our work and schedules. Sometimes we get so focused on meeting a deadline or reaching a certain goal that we forget to focus on nurturing our important relationships. 


In the last episode with Jeff Burningham, we discussed why entrepreneurs should never stop learning. In today’s episode, we’re going to discuss how we can maintain healthy business and personal relationships.


Make Time


If we want to maintain our relationships, whether personal or professional, we need to make time for that person. A study published by the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships found that it takes about 50 hours of time together for two people to move from acquaintances to friends, 90 hours to become more than simple friends, and over 200 hours before we will consider someone a close friend (Source: The University of Kansas). 


When we make time for our customers, business partners, friends, and family, we strengthen our relationships. Spending time with someone shows that we care about them and what is going on in their lives. 


When I asked Jeff what his biggest home run was in his career, he told me it was finding his partners at Peak Capital. 


“It's all about the team; the best teams almost always win,” Jeff said. “I think the longevity of the partnership was the biggest home run in my career because not only has it certainly paid off financially over time but more importantly, it's paid off interpersonally and personally, as we have fun together and grow businesses together.” 


Jeff built very strong relationships with his business partners, and because he was able to do this, his company became very successful. However, if Jeff hadn’t put the time into building those relationships, his company could have potentially had a very different outcome. 


When I asked Jeff what his biggest failure was, he said it is being too focused on the end prize, and not spending enough time developing relationships. 


“I'm very type A, driven by results, driven by outcomes. And that's what my mistake has been. I'm too often driven by outcomes when, really, I think the outcome we really want [to focus on] is our close, intimate relationships,” Jeff said. 


Jeff explained that there have been times when he may have neglected his close relationships or he wasn’t as empathetic as he could have been, something which can really hurt relationships. This can be caused when we are too focused on the grand prize such as profit. Instead, we need to remember that without relationships, we wouldn’t get anywhere. We need relationships with our customers if we are going to sell, we need relationships with our partners if we’re going to stay organized and energized, and we need relationships with our friends and family if we’re going to stay positive and happy. 


“Sometimes I lose perspective,” Jeff said. “What really matters in the end [is] the relationships that we have.” In order to build these strong relationships that are the backbone of our businesses, we need to take the time to develop them. This can mean prioritizing a coffee date with a partner over finishing a business report or taking the night off to spend it with family, even when we have a list of 100 things to get done by the end of the week.


Be Patient and Understanding


We have to remember to be patient with everyone in our lives. Often stress and pressure can build up until the thing that breaks the camel’s back is a small and insignificant thing someone close to us says. They end up getting the worst of it as we let everything affecting us, come out on them. We need to be patient with the weaknesses of others and be patient during disagreements. 


“What I wish we had more of is the wisdom, the patience, [and] the foresight to understand we're all flawed characters,” Jeff said. “We're all extraordinary in some ways. We're all very ordinary in other ways. . . . There's a lot more that binds us together, and that makes us similar in our human experience than what makes us different.”


In our professional relationships, patience is essential. An employee may repeat the same mistake while they’re learning or a partner may take more time to complete their part of a project than we take. If we aren’t patient and lose our temper, it can permanently damage a relationship. Sometimes we may be unable to recover. When we are lacking patience with those we work with, Jeff urges us to remember that we are all flawed. We all have our strengths and weaknesses and if we expect others to be patient with us as we work on our weaknesses, we should be patient with others as they work on theirs. 


Our strengths and weaknesses often go hand in hand. It’s like picking up a stick, you have to pick up both sides. The two sides of the stick are a superpower and a weakness. God gives us strengths so we can change the world, but with every strength, there is an associated weakness which gives us humility and the chance to focus on improving and overcoming it. Our weaknesses not only test our patience with others but also our patience with ourselves. 


Even if we vote for different people and have opposing political views, we still have a lot more in common than we do in differences. “Let's support each other . . . and endlessly give each other grace and mercy in places where we don't see eye to eye,” Jeff said. 


Two people can never agree 100% of the time. We may disagree with our business partner on the best marketing strategy or argue about parenting methods. However, even if we have disagreements, if we can be patient and understanding, there are ways to communicate and work through conflicts without damaging a relationship. 


Love One Another 


My wife and I have a core philosophy, and that core philosophy is “just love”. As we come into conflict in a relationship or a challenge with an employer or co-worker, 99% of the time when I don't know what to do, the answer to that problem or that challenge is just to “just love” them. Choose kindness. Choose love. Choose compassion. Choose the benefit of the doubt.


Billy Cox, an American bassist, said, “Leadership today is based on relationships built with trust, hope, love, and encouragement.” In order to be a successful leader in our businesses, we need to lead with love. We should treat each employee with respect and value their opinions like we would our own. 


If we don’t show love in our relationships, they will likely dwindle and burn out. Despite all the work we have to do in such a little amount of time, relationships should be our top priority. When our employee has an idea, we should listen. When our family eats dinner, we should sit with them whenever possible. When our partner disagrees with us, we should do our best to understand them and love them. 


As we spend quality time with those around us and show patience, understanding, and love, we will be able to maintain and grow our professional and personal relationships better even with the workload of an entrepreneur.


Key Takeaways


Thank you so much Jeff for sharing your stories and insights with us today. Here are some of my key takeaways from this episode:


  1. If we want to maintain and grow our relationships, whether personal or professional, we need to make time for that person.
  2. We need to be patient with the weaknesses of others and be patient during disagreements. A moment of lost patience can have permanently damaging effects on our relationships.
  3. We all have our strengths and weaknesses, and if we expect others to be patient with us as we work on our weaknesses, we should be patient with others as they work on theirs. 
  4. As we come into conflict in a relationship, 99% of the time the answer to that problem or that challenge is just to love them. 


Connect with Jeff


If you want to learn more about Jeff or connect with him, you can find him on LinkedIn or Twitter, or visit his company’s website at


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