Make Generosity Contagious

I’ve been working on reviving #Fearless Friday, my LinkedIn initiative to regularly promote my “competi-mates”, and I’m finally getting into the rhythm of it. When I posted yesterday and asked who else was willing to join me in promoting a competitor on Fridays, four or five people said, “I’m in!” I was thrilled. I would love to bring a boost of generosity to GovCon. It takes courage to promote someone else in a social media world that can seem relentlessly self-promoting. What might happen if you use your good will and visibility to tell the world why someone else is head and shoulders above the crowd?

My bet is that you’d be surprised. And that the surprise will be amazing.

Here’s a question for you: is opportunity more like pie, or dough?

At the beginning of 2019, I started promoting my competitors.

Yup. On Fridays, I recorded and posted a two-minute video promoting other experts in the my professional field. I only stopped because I got disorganized and distracted. But the idea has stayed with me, and has come back with force this year.

What was I thinking? Well, it’s like this:

I don’t do everything. There are so many kinds of expertise somebody needs to be successful in Federal contracting. I have dozens of smart friends who have very deep expertise in fields that I know just enough to know how much I don’t know. My value comes not just from what I know, but my willingness to tell you what I don’t know, and my ability to pinpoint who does know that.

There are thousands of companies competing for Federal contracts. There are dozens of consulting companies who provide services and databases and events to help them win those contracts.

Federal contracting is HARD. People need good help, good advice, to be successful. I’m not the right resource for everybody, and I couldn’t serve them all even if I wanted to.

When I say, “Here’s someone who’s really smart at this thing. Here’s why I like them, and I think they’re an expert who might be right for you sometime,” I’m also saying, “These folks know things that I don’t know. There are all kinds of things I’m not good at!”

Not every prospect is a great fit for me. More often than not, I refer people to some other resource or company that’s a better fit. That leaves me open to serve someone who’s exactly right for me. By being generous — willing to send business to competitors — I get to be top of mind another day.

It takes courage to spend time and effort shining the spotlight on someone else. But I believe the Universe pays attention, and is a generous place. I’m committed to living in a world of abundance. Even when things happen that I don’t understand in the moment. Even when things don’t turn out the way I imagine.

Opportunity: do you think of it as pie, or dough?

I believe that opportunity is not pie: it’s not zero sum, where more for you means less for me.

I believe in a world where opportunity is dough: add warmth, and it rises, making more to feed us all.

I’m also the master of the extended metaphor, so I’ll close with this idea: what if we all treated opportunity like sourdough starter? It’s a basic kind of bread component that you can make yourself out of water and flour, keep feeding and growing and breaking off bits of to use as leavening to make loaf after loaf…for years. My friend Brian Glass, a NASA planetary geologist, is still feeding his family from a sourdough starter he’s been nurturing since college, over four decades ago!

Welcome to my world. Let’s make — and break — bread together sometime soon.

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