It's nice to sign a letter, "sincerely yours," but far more powerful, I think, to sign it, "with respect." It says something compelling about the recipient, something earned.
I realized the other day that I'd been working with the trio of Megan, Corey and Gil at Squidoo for five years, since we founded the company. And that I've been with Anne, my trusted bookkeeper, for more than ten years, David at GTN for almost as long, and Lisa, my agent, for more than seventeen. In an amazing bit of time travel, I've been doing projects with my friend Red for more than thirty.
Over time, you don't just come to trust valued colleagues like these, they also earn respect. Once you understand someone's sensibilities and goals, it's natural to see the world through their eyes and to embrace their motives and tactics. Once you've seen their work under pressure and in quieter moments, you get a sense for what they believe in. In a world of quick projects and short engagements, this sort of relationship is priceless.
It's easier than ever to start relationships that can turn into ones like these. Just as hard as it has ever been to make them last.