Math by Bruce Springsteen: 1+1=3

I was lucky enough to see Springsteen on Broadway recently. Everything you have read about it is true. My favorite quote about the show comes from Oprah Winfrey who said, “It was the most searingly beautiful performance I’ve ever seen a person give. You come away feeling more like a human being.”

She’s right.

For the past few weeks, I have considered writing about the show in a few different contexts, but I kept coming back to Bruce’s math lesson. It’s one that he’s used repeatedly in recent years, including in the song Frankie Fell in Love. In his autobiography, he wrote,

“When the world is at its best, when we are at our best, when life feels fullest, one and one equals three.”

He uses this math lesson to describe his relationship with the E Street Band and with his fans. During the show, Bruce talked about being able to tell a much larger story through his work with the E Street Band than the one he would have been able to tell on his own, but it also applies to business.

Earlier this week, CBRE co-hosted an event with Gensler, the world’s largest architecture firm, at their office in Morristown. Their Co-CEO, Andy Cohen, flew earlier in the day and out later that night to deliver his talk on driverless cars to a room of 100 colleagues and clients. He typically delivers this speech to much larger rooms, but he was willing to make the effort for us because of the relationship between our companies.

Recently, I was in a meeting with a legendary New Jersey real estate developer. He told us the story about how he built his empire, but he rarely took any credit. Instead, he gave much of the credit to his team. Like Bruce, he was able to build something bigger than he would have been able to build on his own.

This past Thursday, CRE//Tech hosted its New York City event with over 650 people in attendance. Pierce Neinken partnered with Michael Beckerman and his team at The News Funnel last year with the hopes that the company and events would grow. Last night’s event exceeded everyone’s expectations. On top of that, Michael takes none of the credit.  Instead, he talks about his team and their hard work.

In life, I try to focus on giving more than I take. They key to the math equation is in that generosity and finding like-minded people who want to add value to something bigger. My friend Andy Cohen believes it and lives it. My friend Michael Beckerman believes it and lives it. I know Bruce Springsteen does too.

If you share the same mindset and think we can work on an event, a project, or a charity, reach out. After all, when the world is at its best, one and one makes three.