Face to Face Friendship

Nicole Koefler

October 15, 2018

One of the privileges of being a fellow in the Philadelphia Commons Institute is the ability to engage in face to face conversation with leaders in the community. It is in this engagement that we, as fellows, can connect to the world on a personal level and learn lessons crucial to successful living and relationships. On Monday, October 15th, I was able to introduce and learn from Mr. Matthew Brach, a Philadelphia Commons board member, businessman, educator, and father. Mr. Brach has a background in accounting and consulting as well as private equity; these experiences have led him to a view of friendship intertwined with finance and technology.

Mr. Brach opened our Face to Face conversation with a discussion on friendship in the workplace. Inspired by Joseph Loconte’s Philadelphia Commons lecture, Mr. Brach noted that, though friendships are easier to build through work experiences, they are more worthwhile when formed by a mutual interest in the community. This formed the basis for our conversation; among other things, friendship requires devotion and work. Discussion turned to technology and how social media is able to bring out the worst in us and may hinder our ability to form friendships. Mr. Brach reflected that there are utopian ideas in technology and connection, but this utopia has failed to consider human nature. The internet, similar to the workplace, makes friendships easier, but not necessarily better.

Mr. Brach then quoted Proverbs 27:6 which says, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” Here he reflected that sturdy friendships are formed in the ability to criticize and be humbled. This relates to his doctoral work in which he is looking at the relationship between financial success and humility and magnanimity. Those people more willing to be corrected and learn from their decisions may be more successful financially over time, and may also be better friends. Here again, we are reminded that friendship comes with work and mutual respect for the other. An effort is needed to build fulfilling, robust relationships; perhaps the first step to be taken is in entering into conversation. Mr. Matthew Brach’s talk encourages us to step away from the screen, set aside our ego, and engage with others in the community.