One enchanted evening, 37 years ago, I met Ann at an industry dinner party. Sitting next to one another at a large round table in a noisy restaurant, conversation soon revealed we’d both grown up in Brooklyn, attended – at different times – the same high school and college, and later lived one block from each another on the same street in Manhattan.
Now in Los Angeles, 3000 miles distant from past coincidences, fate brought us together in real time, this time as neophytes in the same industry, with nearly identical interests in film, literature, music and design.
During the next three decades, we’d work together more than once for the same company, partner-up to start a new company, then Ann would work for me successfully in two separate business ventures.
Diversity, not similarities, made us indispensable to one another in all the iterations of our multi-faceted relationship.
In early days, when I was more likely to rush to judgement, Ann’s influence helped to slow my response and encourage more carefully considered options. Conversely, my early warning antennae on business issues allowed for proactive solutions that kept us ahead of a fast-moving business curve.
Ann’s view on the use of money bent more conservatively toward the long-term. My tendency to float a dozen ideas at a time, begged for immediate funding. Compromise between the two philosophies and belief in each other’s strengths, provided the strongest resolutions.
Regarding politics, where saner minds don’t often prevail, our views are the most divergent, yet we both wish for a peaceful world and common freedoms for all.
If respect is sacrosanct, the potential for volatility in friendship and business can give way to unshakable trust. For us, it led to an unexpected bonus: best-case examples of reverse mentoring and problem-solving.
Here are some examples of how this mashup of age and experience played out against the backdrop of our friendship:
Relationships needs constant rekindling.
Today’s social media can restrict interaction between friends to the least number of key strokes. We’ve become satisfied with the non-sustainable act of toe-dipping into the lives of our loved ones.
Ann and I have maintained a counterpoint to the banality of Facebook or Twitter: a four-decade history of (very) long lunch engagements. These meetings are seminal, treasured events taking on an intense, in the moment flavor reminiscent of the 1981 film, My Dinner With Andre.
We come to the plate – quite literally – with news of our lives. We share sincere interest in each other’s familial circumstances and a healthy dose of curiosity about each other’s internal lives. It all adds up to a solid pulse check on each other’s emotional geography.
Our quarterly lunches are like comfortable musical improv sessions that benefit from friendship shorthand.
In quick succession, we rifle through a host of pent-up topics – from serious to frivolous – then riff off each other’s ideas until ready to settle on a few themes. Hairbrained schemes may be hatched, but one of us inalienably pulls the other to the ground if hot air lifts our thought-balloons too close to the sun.
We frequently laugh and never forget to hug it out before taking leave of each other’s company.
Do you feel male/female friendships can enhance your life? What are the benefits of a male/female friendship? How valuable is diversity in your existing friendships? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.