The Pleasure of Giving Back

MP900202194I’m not asking for money for any charitable group. This is not about helping the needy really. Instead, we’re talking about sharing – your knowledge, skills and those tricks of the trade that you’ve learned through years of experiment, or when once upon a time someone showed you.

And even though you’re giving these things away to others, you receive the real advantage – the pleasure of realizing just how much you know, and seeing the impact your knowledge has on others. And don’t get me wrong here – there’s also the purely personal pleasure of receiving the respect and appreciation of others.

One of my favorite clients recently asked me to take on the role of content manager for the firm. As a social media company, we provide blogs and support Facebook and Pinterest for various industry clients by providing posts and pins. Our team of writers and social media divas – yes, it is all female – has a strong reputation in our industry.

As content manager, I review blogs and posts before they appear online. I also conduct a conference call every other week for the rest of the team. I choose the topics, prepare the content and share with the others. I know the industry well and write and edit for a living, so I have lots of knowledge to share.

Cooking MomWhat I didn’t expect – what makes this new role so amazing – is the pleasure of that sharing. These are strong smart women and yet my knowledge has value for them. They listen to me and make appreciative noises. We laugh and have fun. It’s truly amazing.

Now, here’s the pitch I’m handing you – a request not for funds but for your time. What do you do to share the knowledge you’ve accumulated through the years? Do you speak to classes of students who are interested in following your career path? Are you active in the career services department of your local university or community college? Are interns a part of your business plan? (And here I’m speaking about paid interns who leave after a semester or a year with truly marketable skills because you’ve taken a chance on them and given them the opportunity to learn and grow in your organization.)

What kind of training do you offer your team if you have one? Do you see educating clients as part of your responsibility? Do you speak at industry conferences? Do you blog about your industry to benefit others in the field or your client base? Essentially here’s my question – do you share your knowledge with others without thinking of monetary benefits? If you do, good for you. And if not, why not?

Instructor Leading Ballet Class June 2001Some people worry about giving away the store – creating potential competitors who know what they know. Some people value their ideas and creativity so much that they won’t risk sharing them with others. Well, if that idea hidden in your brain is the last good idea you will ever have, then go ahead and hide it away. But if you continue to learn and grow and develop new ideas, why not make the path easier for those who follow?

One last concept here – what kind of legacy will you leave? When you retire or die or move on in some other way, will all that knowledge leave with you? We live in a world that constantly builds on the information, skills and discoveries of those who came before us. And while you may not be a scientist or researcher developing a cure for some dreadful disease, your work has merit. And the ultimate validation of your life comes from your ability to make the way easier for those who are following in your footsteps. So share already – see what it gets you. It sure works for me.

icmg002Maria Muto-Porter is a freelance writer and blogger. Her career began in broadcasting as a reporter and producer where she covered local news and features in Toledo, Ohio. Muto-Porter served as editor for two publications including a national design magazine. She has also written and edited books, magazine articles and other business materials. You can contact Maria at

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