“Of course we’ll work with you. You’ve been there for us every time.” – Barakzai Tribal Chief (Afghanistan)

It’s funny, even in some of the roughest places in Afghanistan—where conflict occurred for years between tribes and Coalition Forces—time after time, I witnessed Green Berets with amazing people and leadership skills inspire skeptical tribal leaders to fight alongside them. And they did it without so much as batting an eye.


There was a pre-existing relationship in place, and even though working with us against the Taliban presented risks, the relationship drove this transaction as a natural outcome.

Why is relationship building such a critical leadership skill?

Thousands of miles away, my brother and I built a healthy real estate portfolio with private investors…most of whom I served with in combat. “Yeah man, I am excited to invest with you guys. Thanks for letting me be a part of this,” was the typical response from the men and women with whom I shared danger and then shared opportunities to build large yield by investing in real estate back at home.

What do tribal alliances and private investors have in common?


Humans have existed at the top of the food chain for 200,000 years largely because of our unprecedented ability to connect and form groups. Despite having no fur, fangs, or teeth, we can form clans that overcome most of the stuff nature and life throw our way.

Relationships are the lifeblood of these group dynamics. They enable us to connect, trust, and act—collectively—in a very powerful way.

When relationships are formed, we can then conduct transactions that are natural and pure.


This is the way of doing things around the world. The relationship is built and the transaction follows.

But, in America and the West, we tend to do it the opposite way. We put the transaction before the relationship. There are lots of reasons we do that in our contract-based society, but Rooftop Leaders should not.

Rooftop Leaders recognize the relationship is the asset

Lead differently. I want you to think of the relationship first. Build that as your asset. Then the transaction will follow. In fact, many will likely follow…and they’ll be deeper and richer.

Think about every great deal you’ve done in your life. Likely, there was a strong relationship at the heart of that deal.

This is no different.

Identify the people in your arena who are critical to your life and business. How are you building deep relationships with them that set conditions for powerful transactions?

Just remember, building relationships is a two-way street. There has to be connection, empathy, trust, reciprocity, and ultimately, loyalty.

Maybe that’s why no one does it anymore. It’s harder. It takes longer.

But, if you build relationships as the core asset of your life and your business, you’ll find you have a distinct advantage over those swimming hopelessly in the shallow “sea of selfies”.

Build trust first—and the deal that really pays off will follow.

I’ll see you on the high ground.

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