How To Make Friends

Relationships are transactions - but that isn't a bad thing.

Any relationship with anyone – from a friend to a shopkeeper, if you think of it, is a transaction.

You give something and you get something.

It sounds “transactional” rather than emotional, and that’s why it offends some people.

Relations are supposed to be important because of the people involved, not because of what you get from them.

It’s about “people”, not about “benefit”.

But that’s not how it works.

If there wasn’t something you were looking for from a transaction, you would transact equally with everyone you met.

But no one spends their time equally with everyone.

Yet if relations were about people, then why wouldn’t we?

Every person matters, so why discriminate between people you want to associate with?

We pick a few humans to spend more time with.

And we do that based on our preferences – meaning we think they offer us something we value.

That something could be anything – stimulating conversation or similar hobbies or similar traits as you.

Whatever it is, it’s something that has value for you.

A cynic would already know this.

Everyone looks out for themselves; there’s nothing like true friendship. There’s only self-interest.

People only enter into relationships because they seek something. No one does anything without self-interest; there’s always an axe to grind.

In a way, it’s just like how the market works – especially a barter system, based on a double coincidence of wants.

You have what the other person wants and he has what you want.

If your friend was a bore to be around, he probably wouldn’t be your friend for long.

The “Taking Trap”

Because of this it’s easy to give in to cynicism and dismiss human beings as self-centered and conniving.

You can believe that “People just want something from you, they don’t care about you.”

And I think it’s true far more often than not.

But that misses the point.

Even if you believe this is how human relations work, it doesn’t have to be a “bad” thing.

That’s the mistake you can make if you only see the “taking” part of relations.

The problem is focusing on the wrong concept – the point isn’t about what you can take from someone.

It’s a loser mindset for two reasons.

One – you focus on other people instead of what’s more important for you, and what’s in your hands, which is You.

Two – you focus on something easy to do and worthless, which anyone is capable of – taking from people.

The real point is about value, which comes from the giving.


This isn’t the old cliché about “the more you give, the more you get” and being a nice person.

It’s about being someone capable of giving.

To do that, you have to be someone with value.

I love the one whose soul squanders itself, who wants no thanks and gives none back: for he always gives and does not want to preserve himself.

Friedrich Nietzsche

Take a simple example.

Before a math test, people often flock to the guy who’s good at math.

In a class of 30, 25 might approach him and take his notes.

Whereas only 5 would be the ones capable of making those notes.

What’s more valuable? Anyone could copy off someone. Few could create something worth copying.

A rough guide to value is “How easy is this to do?” Or “Can anyone do this?”

It plays out in business too.

A business whose business model, whose core competency, is easy to copy is not likely to be different from its competitors.

Being easy to copy means that it won’t be different.

And if it’s not different it has low value.

You can see that easily – the business can’t offer something for which people will pay highly because it has low value. It has low value because it’s not different, so anyone can offer what it does, and therefore supply is easy to raise.

The only way to differentiate itself from competitors is price; and that becomes a road to the bottom as firms sell cheaper and cheaper, eroding their profits.

This is the pitfall of the taking mindset.

People who focus only on taking from others instead of giving aren’t going to be the ones others want to flock to.

Businesses who focus only on taking money from their customers instead of offering value aren’t likely to be the ones that succeed in the market.

The “Taking” Model

I don’t usually buy from the vendors who sell wares at small railway stations where the train stops during a journey.

Most customers are one-time. They never come back.

So a vendor selling apples has every incentive to give a bad one – so long as it’s not visibly bad.

He’s already gotten your money, and by the time you’ve found out the truth, there’s nothing you can do about it.

In this relationship, he’s only focused on taking – on extracting the most he can from you.

In a way, it makes sense – you can see the reasoning at work.

There’s a very high chance you’re a one-time customer, so this way he’ll maximize his profit from you. Giving you a great apple is pointless – who’ll come all the way by train just to buy apples from him?

This is one way to be good with people. Try to extract as much as you can from others.

It’s like those people who instantly become chummy with you when they find out you’re in a high position in government or you work at Goldman Sachs or your dad is rich.

Spend all your time and energy on this and you’ll probably get good at it, though you might not have time to be good at much else.

It’s kind of like someone who has read How to Win Friends and Influence People (which is a great book) and now in every interaction simply enacts what he thinks the other person would want to hear in order to produce an impression on him.

Nor will people like being around you. It’s only your cunning and guile that keeps them around long enough for you to get whatever you want out of them.

It might make sense in some contexts – when you meet people purely for one-time business deals (like our apple vendor) and know you’ll never see them again.

Though I’d argue even here, even if you’re totally conniving, you’d want to give – for the same reasons as a business. You never know when you’ll need them again, and you never know whom else they might know.

If this is your style, you have to be a chameleon. No originality, no personality of your own – modify yourself to become whatever you think other people want you to be, and get into their good books.

The Value Model

Now imagine buying something from a reputed brand. Say Apple or Samsung.

You’d imagine they’re more likely to care about the quality of their products.

Firstly, because there’s a high chance you’ll be a repeat customer and buy again from them.

Secondly, because that’s how their reputation gets built, and the best form of advertising is good customer reviews. This brings them more customers.

Conversely, one bad review can be horrible – just google “United breaks guitars” to see how one angry customer caused United Airlines to lose 10% of its market value in a day.

They have to give value if they want to win in the market.

So these businesses focus on the “giving” heavily.

Their primary focus is themselves – what can they offer that people want to buy?

And more importantly, what do they have to do to become a company that can produce that value?

Sure, they take as well – nothing’s free – but they give enough to make you willingly pay for their stuff.

I think it works just the same for humans.

You don’t have to change yourself for your audience because you don’t need to “sell” yourself to anyone.

You’re not trying to take from them – you don’t need their attention.

You can turn your focus to yourself, on what you consider important, even if no one else cares about it, because you don’t care that they don’t care.

Instead, you focus on becoming someone with value, just as a business focuses on creating value.

People will come when they see you offer value.

You get a lot of advantages.

Firstly, you make real long-term friends, just like a business gets repeat customers.

And again, this in turn brings you more friends, because your reputation spreads – just as nothing is better for marketing a business than happy customers.

There are other advantages too.

You attract those who share the same values as you because you don’t change your behavior to try to win stranger’s approval.

There’s no hiding behind a mask. When you reveal your hand, people can take a look at it.

In the same way, those who aren’t interested won’t waste their time on you.


To find a worthy mate, be worthy of a worthy mate

Charlie Munger

Making friends is a bit like making money, I would imagine.

To do really well at it – to have genuine, lasting friendships or to make a lot of money – you need to be a person or a business of value (so long as you don’t go out of your way to be an asshole by insulting people, or for a business, giving horrible customer service).

And that usually comes by not making these things your goal.

It’s the by-product of excelling at whatever you put your mind to.



I lost my interest in between and jumped to the value model, to which I agree on many points.
“You attract those who share the same values as you because you don’t change your behavior to try to win stranger’s approval” is certainly a fact I suppose.


Sir, do you have a lot of friends?

Shobhit Raina

Define ‘Friends’

Aparajita Singh

This was a great piece
Never imagined something like this could be penned down

Gorla Maneesha

Interesting perspective. Value always stands out to the one looking for it


Hi pratyush, I find this blog very interesting and thoughtful.
Great work , please keep writing !!!
Also i would be happy if u could recommend some good blogs of such cogitative and introspective content.
Thanks in Advance !!
P.S : Anyone from the viewers can also recommend some good blogs they came across.

priyanshi rawat

yes plz anyone !

Sanjana Vatts

Blog of Gaurav Agrawal


Sir ,can you please share your learnings from MBA?


I read his Almanack a couple of weeks ago and noticed the eerie similarity myself. I wouldn’t be surprised if I get accused of plagiarism, though in my defense, there are plenty of differences as well.

Sweta Tripathi

I believe as we grow up we start becoming capitalist away from our roots like when we were kids we naturally used to make friends because we never search for any purpose but things started changing when we enter into adult body. Scrutinizing becomes a process to acquire friends who after sometimes becomes invisible from our life.So what actually makes our childhood choice formidable and adulthood choice dilapidated? is our prejudice and a lot of expectation we instinctly start drawing wrong perception about people based on their one choice or action and because of this we lose our chance to know an interesting person,also we ourself don’t know much about our likes and unlikes very well for eg : some people says they don’t like people who talks a lot but when they meet any such people sometimes they start liking them .Remove prejudice just like kids and release the shackles of expectation then you will experience a real fun kind of like wordsworth theory of innocence but ofcourse rationality should be there .

Shrey Mishra

Moral of the writeup: don’t make a goal of getting good friends, instead make yourself so good that they can’t ignore you.

Dhivesh Joshi

Hi Pratyush,

You boiled down to value that is excellence in anything you do. In return, that excellence is going to attract similar and do marketing for itself.
” Excellence in work is yoga”
I have just ordered your book. looking forward to read on weekends.

Thank You.

[…] you think of human interaction as a transaction, then you’ll see that most interactions ultimately come down to […]

Anushka Tiwari

I don’t agree with you at all.
God is the one goal of all our passions and emotions.Where is there any enjoyment but in Him? What enjoyment can there be in little clods of earth?
If Everything is without emotions or based on giving or taking then everyone including God can be considered as selfish if there is no god then that positivity inside us is full of selfishness ??
The Great Chankya says
Be a selfish, if you want to be succeed, Think of you ONLY …
but in relationship or in friendship i really don’t think what you have written can be related with relationship with friends & family.
Nothing is wrong or right totally depends upon individuals or on their views
You keep writing or keep shining ✨✨✨🧿💎
God bless ✨
Thanks ! ❤️

Anushka Tiwari

Although it’s my thoughts so I took it back .
I m not here to criticize you
Just put my view before you Sir.


Agree to disagree because sometimes you can be best friends with people who don’t share your value system and you can get heck load of satisfaction in getting them to see your pov . Wrote one on the same topic way back -

Nikita Bhandari

Sir, your blog has become my best friend these days. Your articles not only give me the best company but has reasonable answers to most of my confusions. Though, as of now, I don’t have much to give you back but my heartfelt gratitude and bundles of best wishes for all your endeavours ahead.


Thanks Nikita, glad you like them.