Fill the other guy’s basket to the brim. Making money then becomes an easy proposition.®

This is a quote from Andrew Carnegie, the famous industrialist and philanthropist, who attributed all of his success to this simple adage. It has become our business philosophy, encouraging us to creatively craft mutually beneficial relationships with our vendors. New vendors are typically shocked when we explain this principle to them and ask them, “What can we do to fill your basket to the brim? How can we help you succeed?”

Many of our vendors are thriving small businesses who say they wouldn’t even be solvent today without our support. And this is how The Container Store can compete on pricing with some of the mass merchants. Somebody has to get that last pallet of the vendors’ hottest product – and it’s usually us, because of our great relationships. Some businesspeople think they have to exploit the other party to succeed. (Then they say, “Don’t take it personally – it’s just business.”)

How can you separate your personal and business values? Do you treat your business relationships differently than you would treat your friendships? Simply put, the more win-win situations you can create, the more you’ll succeed in everything you do. After all, business is not a zero-sum game. Nobody has to lose for someone else to win.