When starting out in business 30-some years ago, a mentor, one of the top 2 or 3 salesmen I've known in my life, taught me a number of things that stuck. Among those high on the list were "pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered" and "a good deal is one where everyone wins". I've come to understand, perhaps 'believe' or 'hold' are better words here, that the only good deal is one where everyone wins.

This can be a pretty unpopular view in this cut-throat, dog-eat-dog, zero-sum game world in which we live, and one has often been vilified and ridiculed for it, not to mention being conned a time or two. But, the latter can be precluded by tempering trust with reasonable skepticism, and having done a great deal of business on a more-or-less handshake basis, this lesson's served me well.

Here's some interesting scientific evidence…..not proof, mind you…..this adage may very well hold some water:

The neuroeconomist Paul Zak is driving west along Interstate 10 on a gorgeous Southern California morning. As we pass emerald hillsides, glowing from recent rains, and the snow-blanketed ridges of the San Gabriel Mountains, Zak talks about how standard economics neglects the biological mechanisms of trust that underlie myriad human interactions. "Why people cooperate - why people are altruistic - is a huge question," he says. "When you think about how much of the world works on a handshake or on holding a door open for somebody in an airport, all that kind of falls through the cracks in economics.

Zak and his collaborators at Claremont Graduate University have found that oxytocin, a hormone produced in the brain that promotes human bonding, plays a powerful role in shaping how generous people are. He calls it "the moral molecule." "It's a whole different model," Zak says. "It tells us why global commerce works– because there is a motivation to reciprocate."


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