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Friendonomics: The System for Fast Friendship

It's 11am on a Wednesday in the third week of June, the first week of summer vacation. I'm walking out of my bank holding my very first debit card. I slide it into my new Fossil wallet next to my freshly delivered drivers license and feel a freedom I've never felt before.

Ambitious to exercise that freedom, I call my friend Rick who lives a few hours away and ask him what he's doing tonight. Confused, but excited, he invites me to his town to stay for a few days. I run home to pack a backpack, absentmindedly shout to my Mom where I'm heading, and hit the road.

I make the three hour drive to Rick's house and find myself famished. We decide on Hawaiian food and pull into the lot. As we get up to pay, I pull out my card and slide it. It's declined. I try again, and again it was declined. I start to sweat and begin to explain how I'd just gotten it that day. Rick laughs and says, "Yeah man, usually you have to activate those things! Don't worry, I'll get this one, Friendonomics!"

I exhaled, laughed, and took my drink cup to find a seat. Wait, what in the world is "Friendonomics?"

To put it simply, Friendonomics says, "I value this friendship over a financial transaction and trust that over time, it'll even out." Over the next 15 years, Rick and I have bought each other countless meals, even when neither of us had any money. Sometimes saying out loud, but always thinking, "Friendonomics."

I've had other friends who I've had meals with that literally sent a receipt back because my Coke was accidentally put on their bill. If you had to guess, would you think I have a stronger friendship with Rick or that friend?

Friendonomics is a system I've always employed with my friends, not because I'm the most generous guy in the world, but because it will tell you a lot about a person fairly quickly.

Do they see a strong enough future in this friendship to let me buy them a meal or vice-versa? How do they react when someone shows them a kindness? And usually, if someone is willing to be generous with something as small as a $10 lunch, they'll be generous in bigger aspects of their lives and relationships as well.

Friendonomics isn't for everyone. I've practiced Friendonomics only to realize it won't be reciprocated. Risk is inherently part of the "economy of friendship," but so is generosity. That is the key with Friendonomics. This concept isn't about making an investment and hoping for a return. It's about being inherently generous and hoping you've found a kindred spirit as a friend.

Friendonomics may not be for everyone, but it will help you determine who someone is.


Pay for a friends meal this week and claim Friendonomics (you may have to explain what it is ;)).


If you pay for your friend's meal ten times in a row, do you believe it will still even out at some point?


"If trust is the universal lubricant of relationships, generosity is the fuel." - Andrew Sobel

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