In an earlier post, I wrote about the value of picking up the phone to ask for help, information, or other assistance from fellow professionals.
On the other side of things, what do you do when you get that call?
In my former profession, many of us Iowa band directors worked toward the special, singular honor of representing our class at the annual Bandmasters Convention. This was a big honor that went to just one (or zero) programs per year.
One year, a colleague (David) and I set a goal: one of our programs would make it. For weeks on end, while preparing the audition, we recorded our groups and emailed the recordings to each other. We would listen, critique, and head back to work. Understand that this was a very competitive process, but we set that aside for the goal of improving our teaching and our students’ experience. At the end of the process, one of our groups was selected. The next year, the other group made it. The abundant, open sharing process made it possible.
In my current profession, intellectual property can be closely guarded. So can personal information about running the business end of things.
Some of my material comes from a man named Tim. As I realized I was about to use a bit of his content and some of his activities for financial gain, I went to tell him this and ask how he felt about it, “Will you use it to build people?” he asked. “Well, yeah, but I’ll make money, too.”
“I don’t care about the money. I care about the people. If you’re building, steal away.” What a great model! When someone came to me a couple of years later to ask “Can I use some of your stuff?” I had no choice but to give the same answer.
I just came back from an Open Space Symposium — it’s a conference where experts freely share their knowledge, with no compensation — and no holding back. It’s “risky” in the eyes of some, but everyone benefits.
When I was getting started in this business, it was tough to learn details, like “how does a proposal look?” and “how much should I charge?” You can find websites on this stuff, but they’re not reliable enough. There are books, but they aren’t specific enough. There were two people (I won’t name them, so they won’t be inundated with requests) who shared any and all information with me. After a conversation with one, he said “Alan, you now know more about my finances than anyone but my accountant.”
So, guess what I do when I get asked similar questions? No choice, but to share abundantly. I’m so glad I had the right role models on this, or I might have chosen the (sadly) more common path of self-guarded-ness. So, thanks to David, and Tim, and others who have set the stage for this way of doing business.
From my own experience, and what I’ve noticed in others,
those who share, give, and stay open tend to be happier and more secure.