There is a ton of Thought Theft in the Knowledge Age.
This is what it looks like.
“There are times when you must rely on a person for something. If done repeatedly, however, it becomes taking advantage of that person, and is rude of a samurai.” – Hagakure
Service providers you have experienced this. How often has someone asked advice? Once they have your tip, they solve the problem themselves without paying for your service. BAM! You lose out on paycheck for giving away your knowledge. Once is alright but then they do it again. And again.
Thought Theft in the Knowledge Economy
Today most of us are knowledge workers. I know for a fact that many Spark Citizens (aka Samurai Entrepreneurs) are knowledge workers. That means that our “skill” is more like a knowledge set than an actual skill.
The challenge here is a small piece of social etiquette. Have you experienced it? It is viewed as rude to not answer a clear and direct question. So, when a person comes to you to ask a question you may experience social pressure to politely answers. I know I have!
A Free Tip is Ok. Regular Requests is Theft
For knowledge workers, giving away a “free tip” is often the cost of proving that you have valuable knowledge in an area. And we definitely want to help others! (Just like Elva the Book Maven did.) But watch out for knowledge free-loaders; people who make a habit of picking your brain to get around compensating your vast knowledge.
For Shame Repeat Offenders!
And, for those of you doing this repeatedly; shame on you! Those individuals who you go to for advice repeatedly in order to steal (yes, steal) their knowledge over time know what you are doing. They are simply being polite by not telling you to pay up.
“They didn’t ask for any payment” is not an excuse. With a history of not paying for professional knowledge you are becoming a burglar of thought theft in the knowledge age.
“Grant, these are my friends!” I hear you. Many times friends master-mind together to help each other. That’s fine. But you know the difference between true friends and people you’re short-changing.
Samurai Entrepreneurs Lead the Way
Here is the new social etiquette that Samurai Entrepreneurs and anybody seeking knowledge should implement.
When asking for advice from someone you suspect may be a professional, begin the conversation with: What do you normally charge for advising on [their profession]. Do not go into your problem first!!
Instead, learn how they normally work. In most situations, they will then guide the conversation. Follow their lead and respect their expertise!
Also, acknowledge that there are many ways to compensate someone for their knowledge. Publicly praising them, promoting their business, or buying them dinner are all ways to show deference and to communicate to them you know and respect their value.
Implement the new etiquette and you may find your whole network opening up. As others realize you respect and value their professional experience, they will become quick resources for you. Be sure to reciprocate. This is the Way of the Samurai Entrepreneur.