If I’m remembered for anything, it’ll probably be a piece of advice that occasionally and randomly goes viral called “two beers and a puppy.” It’s a thought exercise that I included in my 2015 book Works Well With Others. Pick a person in your life — a friend, a coworker, your cousin Kyle, whoever — and ask yourself two questions:
- Would I want to have two beers with this person?
- Would I trust them to look after my puppy over a weekend?
You might have thought someone was “two beers and a puppy” and it turns out they’re “no beers and a puppy.” (You don’t really enjoy spending time with this person, but you think they’re trustworthy.) Or maybe they’re “two beers and no puppy.” Sometimes people are “one beer and a puppy but only for, like, two hours on a Saturday.” Some people are “limitless beers and an ocean of puppies.” Some people are no on both counts.
Your answers are guaranteed to be revealing. It might even lead you to seeing a relationship in a different way.
Hopefully, the test will reveal that you’re surrounded by lots of people who you’d like to have an aimless hour-long conversation with and who you’d trust to take care of something you really care about. (If you don’t drink and aren’t into puppies, don’t worry: It works metaphorically. You can even switch it up: “two puppies and a beer.”) It’s a step toward increasing the number of people in your life and work who you like and trust, which I think is a major factor in the type of success I write about in my book.
If someone isn’t hitting high marks, it doesn’t necessarily mean you stop investing in the relationship. Maybe an investment is exactly what the relationship needs.
There’s a lot of practical, surprising advice in my book, but since its publication in 2015, “two beers and a puppy” has gotten the most attention. Every now and then it goes viral on social media. Yesterday, someone posted a photo of the “two beers and a puppy” page on Imgur and it went from there. (My favorite comment: “Turns out I wouldn’t have 2 beers or leave a puppy with myself — what does that mean I should do?!?!”)
I owe a couple beers to whoever posted it this time. And I’d be happy to take care of their puppy.