I heard a story on the This American Life podcast about a man waiting on a subway platform, and in the crowd was another man walking up to people, saying, “You’re in. You’re out. You, you can stay. You — gotta go.” The storyteller found himself secretly wanting to be picked to stay, which was odd since what the man was doing was completely arbitrary. I love this story because it reminds me of what we do to ourselves, how we consciously (or unconsciously) choose people in our lives. This applies to people in all areas of your life: friends and family, as well as clients and business associates. You can decide: “You, you can stay”; “You, you gotta go.”


What would it be like if you were intentional about your own “subway platform” of work? I’ve had clients tell me they don’t like working with a particular person, or a certain type of client, but that they “have to” because:

  • That’s where the money is.
  • They need the money.
  • That’s the way it’s done in their industry.
  • It doesn’t matter how indifferent to doing this type of work they are, it’s what’s needed in the marketplace.
  • They’ll just do it like this for now to get established, then they can pick who they really want to work with later.

As tempting as it might be to choose people in business for the above and related reasons, a word of caution: many of your feelings of success and satisfaction come down to who you’re doing business with and how consciously you choose them. Building and running a business takes time and effort, and it’d be a shame to realize that you’ve created something that isn’t feeding your soul, even if it might be feeding your pocketbook.

Today, evaluate who is in your business life. Make sure they pass the “Stay / Go” test. Be discerning and fierce in your selection process. Be willing to let go of those who aren’t the best fit for you — you’ll be making room for the good ones to come in.

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