Why 1+1 Equals 11

When I was growing up, I was a huge boxing fan. 

There’s a great boxing saying that says, “styles make fights”. What that means is, you could have the two best boxers in the ring, and the fight might still be boring. You could also have two below average fighters and it could still be the most exciting 12 rounds you ever see. Think about fights with Muhmammid Ali and Smokin Joe Frasier or Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfeild. 

I think there’s a similar phenomenon in business. Business relationships and partnerships oftentimes can be great (they could also be terrible), but when I see two companies or two individuals coming together, and working together, and I just know that the stars completely aligned for them to both extract enormous values–I think about how 1 plus 1 equals 11. 

What 1+1=11 Means In Business 

For example, when I saw that Disney bought Marvel, and then Lucas Film, I said to my friends, “That was a 1 plus 1 equals 11”. 

I understood that the Disney infrasture, with that IP coming into it, was going to work. Both because Marvel and Lucas made a lot of money in their transaction, but also because I thought Disney underpaid for that IP.  Considering the future world, with so much video online streaming, that’s why I think we’re seeing these deals play out. Look at Disney+ and this growing sector, we’re all gonna subscribe to something. It could be because of Star Wars and Avengers, or it could be because of The Little Mermaid and The Lion King.  Disney had the foresight to understand that the IP was the thing that had the most leverage in a decentralized internet world. Hence I use the term a lot. 

What 1+1=11 Means In Partnerships 

I look for it in every relationship and every potential relationship. Will this just be a good partnership, or does this have the potential to be 1+1=11? To make it even more macro, I’ve done many partnerships through the years where I’ve realized the partnership itself –  the thing we were trying to accomplish – was going to be just okay or maybe average. I didn’t have the greatest feeling.  However, I was so enamored or respected that I and the person I was doing the deal with, were aware that my intent would be to be a great partner. Therefore, I would be able to leave that partnership in great shape. When I left, I left a great impression, hence one plus one equals 11 in the macro. 

For me, a lot of the time 1+1  is the marco conversation, not the micro. I know people like Guy Oseary  weren’t amazing for Vayner or Maverick but our partnership did deepen our relationship and it served as the foundation for many other fruitful things. That’s because we were both good actors during the partnership even though the partnership itself didn’t crush.

As a matter of fact, a lot of times a partnership may look like it’s 1+1= 11 to you on the outside because both entities made some money but meanwhile, neither respected the way that the other was dancing during their time together. In the long term it was actually a negative.

1+1=11 is the macro way I look at partnerships and relationships, and it is a term I throw around often, and that is the foundation of how I see it.

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