Principles of Collaboration

Why Write Talking Points

One of the longterm projects I have is to develop a list of my Talking Points, a la Visa. I need to remember to talk to Visa about this when I have him on my podcast again – why would he say it’s worth listing and articulating and sharing your talking points? I could see it feeling kind of gauche or something to some people.

But to me, it’s pretty clear that it’s a worthwhile endeavor, even if I can’t say why quite yet.

When you put your talking points in a concise, pithy fashion, you internalize them more deeply. You remember them when they matter, and you start to see connections between them. A momentum can come to life simply by acting on your own highest principles. You see where they work, and gather steam from the power they hold. When they don’t apply, you learn lessons – further establishing your own intuition and wisdom.

Moreover, when you put your talking points out there, others can learn from them.

Talking Points on Collaboration

Anyways, I’m starting to see some talking points emerge for me around collaboration. I already have a few in my Talking Points page. But there are more, that I see emerging in the past few 1,000 Word Essays I’ve written, and implicitly in the projects I’ve made with my collaborators.

I haven’t been able to articulate them to my satisfaction yet, but I want to try and do so a little better before my upcoming Interintellect salon.

I’m realizing that one of the things at play here is that I’m believable with respect to collaboration. I’ve pulled off a number of impressive collaborations, with a lot of different collaborators, on a lot of different projects.

So it’s worth taking the time to articulate what’s working so well, so I can be more conscious of it, and share it with others.

Here are the talking points I’ve pulled together:

  • Steer towards maximum benefit:
  • Keep perspective: Know what matters, and what doesn’t. Hold things lightly, do your best, don’t be mean or cruel or petty.
  • Good projects, good people, good results: Choose the projects, choose the collaborators, listen to the feedback. Rinse, repeat.
    • Choose the right projects:
      • Stand for something good: if you plant your feet firmly in the ground for something good, help will arrive. If it’s good, beautiful, or inspiring, people will want to help, participate, support you in it.
      • Keep your eye on the prize: have a shared intent. State it clearly, recall it often, clarify or adapt it when need be. Statements of purpose/intent, moodboards, and frequent, short conversations (whether synchronous or asynchronous) help with this.
      • Order your projects intelligently: play your collaboration cards in order. Do a smaller project before the bigger project.
        • Challenge yourself every time: Try something new every time you do something.
          • Pick something hard, but not too hard: don’t bite off more than you can chew, but make sure that what you set out to do is a little bit scary, a little bit outside of your comfort zone, a little bigger and bolder than anything you’ve done before.
          • Do it bigger every time: Make Each project, a little bigger, a little more ambitious. Baby steps compounding towards increasingly epic possibilities..
          • Learn something every time: Get better, stronger, more skilled with every collaboration.
      • Know how much gas is in the tank: money, time, energy, morale/interest/enthusiasm.
    • Choose the right people:
      • Collaborate with people:
        • you like and enjoy spending time with.
        • who are skilled at what they do (and at things you’re not skilled in)
        • who you can learn from, with, alongside
        • who get things done effectively (have productivity skills)
        • who are honest, have integrity (DWYSYWD), and act ethically towards you + others
      • Know yourself: your strengths, your weaknesses, your money situation, your needs, your goals, your dreams.
      • Know your collaborators: their strengths, their weaknesses, their money situation, their needs, their goals, their dreams.
      • Go on collaboration dates: go on a quick date to get a sense of each other. Have some fun together.
      • Know whose role is whose: hold to the vision, but defer to the believeable person when it comes to execution. Let the artist decide on aesthetic matters.
      • Value the relationship above all else: the other person, and your relationship with them, is more important than any project, no matter how big or important or expensive.
        • This is for two reasons: unconditionally, intrinsically because they are a person worthy of love and respect; and conditionally, practically, because long-term collaboration, if deemed tenable, is more valuable than any one individual project.
  • Feedback:
    • Ask for feedback: ask for feedback, listen to the feedback (both explicit and implicit), honor the feedback, learn from the feedback.
    • Give feedback to grow: Give feedback. Give kind feedback. Give positive, well-deserved, accurate, helpful, encouraging positive feedback. If you have to give constructive feedback, say it as kindly as you can, while still honoring the honest truth you have to share. This is Right Speech: true, useful, kind (words) kind (state of mind), timely.
    • Fast information flow: Fast information flow is important. Constantly be asking yourself, β€œWho needs this information right now?” and get that information to them as soon as possible.
    • Let your projects give you feedback:
      • Celebrate your victories: take the time to celebrate your successes, your launches, your growth. Really enjoy it.
      • Say thank you: it’s always worth saying thank you. Thank your collaborators, earnestly, honestly, frequently, perceptively.
      • Surprise yourself: let your projects surprise you with what’s possible. It won’t turn out the way you planned, and that’s ok – it’s better that way. See the beauty and brilliance in the way it turned out, in the thing you actually shipped, rather than the merely imagined idea in your head.
      • Talk out loud: talk out loud, build in public, share your victories, your losses, your questions. It helps you learn, helps people know what you’re up to, attracts collaborators, and inspires others.