- Friends first: Respect the friendship. Don't try to misuse any relationship for information, or put the person in an uncomfortable position, and be comfortable enough saying "Hey man, I can't say anything about that."
- Its stupid to ignore reality: The Internet industry has so many frenemy-esque relationships, its impossible not to recognize there's always a bit of a conflict brewing. Always have that at the back of your mind.
- Be genuinely appreciative: If a competitor does something impressive, be impressed... and happy. Learn from it, congratulate your friends at the company on it, challenge yourself to do something better, and don't waste time being envious or annoyed. If something made the world a better place, its a good thing.
- Its fine to talk shop, just not about your merchandise: I can't imagine not talking about the industries I think about or the companies that are part of it. You share the things you care about most with your friends, and with many of these relationships our passion for these spaces is what we hold most in common. These conversations have to be slightly more guarded, but don't stop having them. There's still a lot you learn even if both of you can't share a 100% of what you know.
My wife had the following experience yesterday on her ride back home. She got on the train and found a seat. The train was unusually crowded and it looked a lot of people had to stand for a long ride. An elderly Asian gentleman carrying a few things in both hands, was looking for spot, started to complain smilingly about the train being so full and stood in the aisle at the back of the carriage some seats away from her.
She expected someone closer to gentleman in the aisle (lots of younger people on the train) to give him their seat.
No one did.
The train started, and it was clear the man was having a lot of trouble standing up. Then at the next stop there was actually an announcement saying the train was full so please give up your seats to people who needed them.
Still nobody moved.
My wife got up walked to the end of the train and asked the gentleman to go over to her seat. She still couldn…