The Frienemy Market

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

In my travels as a speaker and consultant over the last several years, I've found that local wedding markets can be described in one of two ways: a market where some groups of vendors are truly friends with each other and let the other groups live and let live, or they are a frienemy market.

A frienemy market is exactly what it sounds like: most of the professionals pretend to like each other, but in actuality can't stand one another. "I love your idea!" they'll crow, with their fingers crossed behind their back. They never share real ideas for fear that you'll steal them, even if you've never stolen anything in your life. They'll dismiss your accomplishments as no big deal, even if they are a very big deal and will try to guilt-trip you into thinking that you shouldn't be so proud of whatever it is you may be celebrating.

As a speaker, it's pretty easy to tell which markets are which. During cocktail hour in both types of markets everyone is best friends, posing for photos and making small talk about each other's kids. During the Q+A sessions however, people in a frienemy market will ask very few questions but deluge the speaker with email questions afterward. I am not the only speaker this happens to and when other speakers and I exchange notes, the markets this happens in are always the same.

It's also worth noting that the markets with the least creative ideas, the least innovation, who are the last to participate in social media for fear that the world will steal their ideas, but who also have the most ego are frienemy markets.

Frienemy markets produce mediocrity. If you're in a market like this, develop some Teflon-like skin and do whatever you can to not get sucked into the trap. You can't do great work if you're being pulled back down with every decision you make.

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