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June 23rd, 2012
10:07 AM ET

Letters to the President #1251: 'Friends and business'

Reporter's Note: President Obama receives a letter from me every day, even when I'm on vacation, like this past week. 

Dear Mr. President,

As your election year activities grind on, I am sure you are trying to assess and reassess just who you have in your innermost circle of advisors. And here is my advice on that: Be wary of friends.

First, because everyone wants to be friends with a president. It is prestigious, potentially lucrative, and you get great seats in restaurants. Or so I am told. So with all those benefits, even figuring out who your true friends are is tricky.

Once you've identified them, you have the second problem. Friends generally don't like to make each other angry. So they often gloss over bad news, ignore each other's weaknesses, and flat out will not mention when the friend is wrong.
You don't need that. No, what you need is brutally honest folks who will tell you all the bad news first, will challenge you at every corner to be better, and who will not sugarcoat your weaknesses.

For someone in your position, those are the true friends. Finding them is tough...but not only is it worth the effort, it is essential.

Hope all is well. Call if you can.

Regards,
Tom

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