An Entreprenuerial Lesson I (Re)Learned Today

Today I was reminded of a valuable lesson: When speaking to a (potential) collaborator focus on the scope of your project with them exclusively. Focus on what the two of you share as the basis for your relationship; not  on anything else.  Let me explain.

Today I was meeting with the owner’s of The Greenhouse Theater in Chicago.  A number of weeks ago, I was approached by the general manager of the theater to establish a collaborative relationship with them. We have been working together, ever since, to establish what our relationship could look like and how it might unfold and grow.

The final step of forming our collaboration, was to meet the owners of the theater. The meeting was mostly a formality; in the sense the decisions about our work together had already been made but we had never met and needed to in order to seal the deal. However, during my meeting with the owners I made the mistake of telling the story about how we were recently cold cold by a global business services organization and offered a lead role in an international arts entrepreneurship project.  ( Yes, I realize I just offered you a nugget of sizzle but until it becomes official I cannot say anything more. And for those of you who have read my posts about my mom, the magic at Ground Zero has, to my own astonishment, continued.)

Anyway,  the purpose of my sharing this information was to explain to them the scope of The IAE’s vision and mission. But the owner of the theater raised concern that it was not relevant to our collaboration and therefore didn’t need to be discussed or shared. We then proceeded to spend the next 20 minutes discussing why this was not true. I was sure both owners of The Greenhouse Theater were enjoying the debate, as long before in our meeting they had expressed how  happy they both were about the potential of our partnership. And yet,  it was through our discussion I was reminded of the lesson all artists with vision must learn:  Don’t bring up too many “dreams or big ideas” when you are focused on serving one specific mission with an individual or organization sitting right in front of you. Focus deeply on your joint efforts. Period. Especially until they know you well.

Sharing your vision or opportunities that arise outside of your relationship can cause others concern, overwhelm them, or make them feel your spreading yourself too thin and won’t focus enough on them; until they know the quality of your work and you are proven.  After all, not everyone can handle big ideas. And not everyone can multi-task and deliver an excellent product while they do. So, if your a visionary– keep your ideas to yourself. Share only the parts with those who need to know.  Trust me.

I was reminded of a valuable lesson today. Especially now, with this owner, I will keep my ideas confined to our mutual benefit until encouraged to share more because of the trust developed and results produced.

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