67. The Nashville Way of Business: An unspoken agreement to treat people well.

Nashville businessman, Adam Will–business owner and brand developer–stretches at a window in his 505 condo overlooking historic downtown, Nashville, July 2019.

Adam showed off the gleaming eruption of a new city emerging from within the old, lifted into place by raw ambition and cranes but upheld by the old things. Adam said, “In Nashville it is never ‘just business.’ In Nashville, how you treat people counts. It is an unspoken agreement here.” 

Adam does businesses in various U.S. cities, owning businesses in several cities. He contrasts his experience as a business owner in Chicago, for example, with owning businesses in Nashville. He said, “In Chicago people say ‘Business is business and friendship isn’t a part of this.’ So people take advantage of each other and say, ‘No offense. It’s just business.'” He said, “In Nashville if you behave that way you will quickly find no one wants to do business with you. Word gets around.”

Adam said word gets around in Chicago too, but in Chicago people just accept the more cut-throat behavior as being the way things are done. “Sure, there are cut-throat people working in Nashville. But there is a different expectation here in Nashville. Here that kind of attitude is not considered normal business. Normal business in Nashville honors a handshake.”

Adam said, in Nashville business still works through deep networks of trusted relationships. He said people pass you along through their personal relationships and expect you to value the people they value. If you fail to treat their relationships well the introductions simply stop. People won’t introduce you and people quit picking up the phone. “Nashville is still a small town in that way.”

Looking out his window at all the cranes over the city Adam commented on the explosive growth then wondered out loud if Nashville will be able to keep this treasured attitude. “I hope so. This is why I moved to Nashville in the first place. It is a good place to call home.”

Above, Adam and partner Giselle walk their dog on their rooftop patio.

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