Why nice people will win BIG TIME in the long run?

Why nice people will win BIG TIME in the long run?

By Rajesh Setty on Fri 15 Jan 2010, 10:10 PM – 28 Comments

Note: Just being nice is not a clever substitute to being truly valuable. You need to be both. So, please don’t take this to an extreme [ Please refer: Just being NICE is not enough]

I still remember that conversation with Tim Sanders (who is one of the nicest people I have met anyway) several years ago.  He said, “nice guys finish first.” This was probably in 2003 or 2004. I didn’t get that at that time. But the concept intrigued me and I observed time and again that nice people win BIG TIME in the long run. So this was part of my mini-research (less than 6 weeks) and I am happy to present the outcome of my research in this blog post.

If you enjoyed the outcome of my research, please consider sending this to someone nice and make their day. We need them to continue to be nice make this world a better place!!!!!

So, let us start with the basic premise:

In many ways, just like water finds its level, people find tribes that they are comfortable with. These tribes change with time but generally most people within a tribe are at the same level when it comes to the “capacity to perform in the marketplace.” When people with similar capacities are in a tribe, there is a “flow.” When there is an inconsistency or a frequency mis-match, the person who seems out of place tries to disengage from the tribe voluntarily or involuntarily.

It is a not a good thing or a bad thing – as over a period of time, the tribe in general evolves and the tribe settles to a particular “capacity to perform” range.

So, if you don’t do anything you will just drift along with the tribe to higher levels of “capacity to perform” in the marketplace. You can attribute that to “progress” or “experience” or whatever you want to call it.

However you view it, you will find yourself in that range of “capacity to perform” simply because the conversations you are having on a daily basis have a huge influence on your actions and the tribe determines the nature of those daily conversations.

It is hard to jump to the next tribe even if you want to. Why?

1. You will feel out of place

2. The tribe will not know how to deal with you as they have to change the “frequency” and “type” of conversations with you.

3. There is no incentive for the higher level tribe to accommodate you.

Now, this is very the magic happens for super-nice (and smart) people.

They make an exception by getting a seat in the next level tribe earlier than not-so-nice people.

The higher level tribe makes an exception too. They go out of the way to accommodate super-nice people who can potentially add value in the future. They are willing to invest in bringing you up to their level.

This is where you have an unfair advantage. In a crude way, you jump the queue to belong to the next-level-tribe quicker.

Let us just think for a minute what happens when you get access to the next level tribe earlier than your peers.

First, your conversations change as you will have different

Second, your conversations will start raising your level of awareness on topics that are “obvious” or “background knowledge” for tribes at a higher level

Third, Based on this new awareness and you start becoming more comfortable to having more such conversations and more importantly your “actions” will change.

Fourth, Your “results” will start to change and will start reflecting the results of the people in the higher level tribe.

Fifth, Soon you will be VERY comfortable belonging in the higher level tribe.

Sixth, After a while you simply become a member of this new tribe without even knowing that you jumped the queue.

OK I can go on..but you get the point. Continue to be super-nice and valuable and you will start jumping the queue and getting into next level tribes faster than people who are super-nice. [Also Refer: Ways to Distinguish Yourself #10 – Pursue Right Memberships]

In the short-term, where someone who is NOT super-nice (A) and someone who is super-nice (B) reach in their careers is not very different. So you may not notice the advantage of being super-nice. But five or ten years from now, where A and B have reached is very different. The person who is super-nice is far ahead of the other person. This is precisely the reason I said – nice people will win BIG in the long run.

I am sure you are all nice people. So the request is for you to be continue to be nice and NOT give up on it. In the short-term you may not see a difference but in the long run, you have an unfair competitive advantage to win BIG.

Have a great day.

P.S: If you want to see the outcome of my previous mini-research project, please take a look at:

Why some smart people are reluctant to share?

P.P.S: If you want to learn more about Tribes, please read “Tribes” by Seth Godin. It’s more about leading a tribe but a lot of it applies to belonging a tribe too.


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28 Comments so far, Add Yours

Rockandrollguru  on January 16th, 2010

The way I see it, being nice is a given. There is never a good reason NOT to be nice. And you are one of the nicest people I know, Raj!

Dave Doolin  on January 16th, 2010

Rajesh – Overall I believe it gets better for nice people the worse the economy gets. That would be silver lining. One can hope at any rate.

RyanD  on January 16th, 2010

One thing that I would add onto that Rajesh, would be the importance of ethics and morality (especially in business)

If you’ve got the niceness and power, and you achieved that power through respectable means:

Who wouldn’t want you?

Rajesh Setty  on January 16th, 2010

Joe, thank you for your kind words.

Dave, Nice people always have an unfair competitive advantage but yes, when the times are tough, they get more visibility.

Ryan, Totally agree with you.



Chaitra  on January 17th, 2010

Hi rajesh

being nice totally makes sense. I believe in it. Can u share an example how a person can move from being nice to being supernice. My son asked me this question?

I said I will ask u this question.

Vikrant  on January 17th, 2010

Interesting take, I can recollect some examples that fits in here, though there are a bunch of them who totally defy this logic.

Jagdish  on January 17th, 2010

Hi Rajesh.

Great way to simply a usually a complex question on “why some people make it faster than other in the organizational ladder, even when performance seems to be near equal.” I agree with you that some people can jump the queue and survive just being super nice. It definitely pays.

Srinivas N Jay  on January 17th, 2010

Hi Rajesh,

This is exactly what is happening in my life right now. I came to US 5 months back for my Master degree, all I needed is to find people having similar goals and higher-level-tribe. As an example to this post, I did get into higher-level-tribe being very nice. But one thing that we have to confront is inferiority, which I am doing now, may be a step before the first step you have mentioned.

Thanks a lot for letting me know that my decision was right.

Have a great day.


Srinivas N Jay

Steve-Personal Success Factors  on January 17th, 2010

I would agree, but I would underline and double underline what you said: nice, but also smart. Being nice alone will not do it. But being nice, along with a code of ethics, as was mentioned in one of the comments, as well as bringing innovation, creativity, great communication skills, etc. is a winning combination.

MCM  on January 17th, 2010

There are people who are always nice to everybody but they do not win with everybody as everybody is not nice to him.

Rajesh Setty  on January 17th, 2010

Thanks to Vikrant, Jagdish, Srinivas, Steve and MCM

@MCM, it seems like you have someone facing a situation where they are being taken advantage of.

Being nice does mean not being able to notice when they are being taken advantage of.



Ben.Whitehair  on January 17th, 2010

Dude, fantastic post. Couldn’t agree more. I’ve been thinking a lot recently about how there really are “shortcuts” in life, but not in the way people think of them. Jumping tribes, getting better information sooner, etc. are all “shortcuts.”


Rajesh Setty  on January 17th, 2010

Thanks Ben.

I have to say that you have one of the most interesting “About” pages I have ever seen on the web.

I just tweeted about it.

For others, here is the link to Ben’s “About” page on his website:




Steven Diamond  on January 17th, 2010

I like nice people. I try and surround myself with nice people. Not because of any sort of self gain or that I want to finish first. Because I find that nice people make me happy and laugh and are more fun to be with and that improves the quality of my life in general.

Rajesh Setty  on January 17th, 2010

Thanks Steven. Your note proves the point again that “super nice” people get access to other tribes more easily than “not-so-nice” people.

It’s an unfair advantage and they deserve that very much :)



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bcoelho2000  on January 19th, 2010

Liked the concept and the way it was explained!

Just a quick note: when it says “OK I can go on..but you get the point. Continue to be super-nice and valuable and you will start jumping the queue and getting into next level tribes faster —> than people who are super-nice.” It was supposed to be “than people who aren’t super-nice, right?

From my experience, I always try to do everything to everyone in my business reach as I would like to be done to me. This creates a great work experience and it’s a great influence to my team.

Now, after just 4 years of experience, my ex-team mates are recommending me for new business opportunities.

Stay strong and keep up the good work!

Best regards,

Bruno Coelho

Jason  on January 19th, 2010

Hey Rajesh! I love this idea and completely believe in it…it’s feels a lot better being nice and when people are nice to you, especially when it’s genuine. Thanks for the great insight!

Sheri  on January 19th, 2010

Thank you for your insight… you are so right! You will always have a positive and happy day if you are “nice” whatever comes your way. Each day adds on the next and your life is full and rich. Chirag, being extra nice is being nice when you don’t want to be nice. Sheri

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Rick Wolff  on January 22nd, 2010

If you’re right, I’m so screwed…

Rajesh Setty  on January 22nd, 2010

Thanks to all of you.

@Rick Wolff, You made me smile here :)

I love your website. Stunning!

For the benefit of others, here is the link to Rick’s website:




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Darren Chang  on February 28th, 2010

Your point of jumping the queue makes sense, but your article never establishes why being nice has anything to do with it. You cannot simply make a statement and call it a research/study. Based on my own experience jumping the queue requires you to build relationship with the person/people from the higher tribe. This relationship is based whether you can help the higher tribe person jump the queue. Being nice contributes nothing here. I also want to point out that people make gratuitous praises about the posts at this blog. Be more critical – that’s how a blog becomes thought provoking and helpful.

Rajesh Setty  on February 28th, 2010

Hi Darren,

I have explained clearly why “being nice” provides a competitive advantage when jumping tribes. Being nice provides that edge that others don’t have. Of course, without building relationships, you cannot exist in the tribes.

As far as feedback is concerned, all types of feedback is welcome.

One other thing to consider is to present your own research and link to your blog posts. One has to be critical but being critical just for the sake of being critical won’t help anyone.

Look forward to reading your own analysis on your blog or elsewhere.

All the best.



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