Being Helpful

I like being helpful. I think most of us do.

Since graduating in 1995 I’ve worked in the arts and music in Birmingham and almost always done voluntary work as well for projects I believe in. Most recently it has meant I’ve been on a lot of boards. Currently I’m undertaking a review of my work/life balance and as part of that I’m stepping down from most of my board commitments.

At the same time I am realising just how much of my week is taken up with giving out free advice on all sorts of things from funding, event management and well ‘can I pick your brains’ is something I hear about 4 or 5 times a week on all sorts of topics!

And I don’t mean colleagues I work with all the time who just want to talk to me (!) I mean the people I don’t know, or colleagues I don’t necessarily work with who want support with a funding application or advice on events or music projects. I get 4 or 5 cold calls/emails/facebook or twitter messages for this per week!

So – I have a suggestion. I have realised that ‘a quick cup of coffee’ with everyone who asks is currently a day per week of my time and recently when I’ve been really busy I’ve found myself quite accidentally ignoring or missing people’s requests and I really don’t mean to be rude!

My suggestion is not that radical. I’m going to spend one set day per month being available for free (or at least in return for coffee).

In the spirit of collaboration and joined up Brummie effort I will make that the last Thursday in every month and end my day at The Music Network meetings at Millennium Point at which I’ll also generally be available for chats.

So I reckon – I’ll plant myself in the Urban Coffee Company‘s shop from 10am and end up at TMN by 4pm.

If you want a bit of free advice or to grab me ‘cos I’ve been too busy – come along and buy my a coffee! Then if people want my time outside of this for advice and project support I’ll charge an hourly rate.

What do you reckon?

The dates this year would therefore be:

Thursday 24 June 2010 – 10am – 12.30pm + TMN

Thursday 29 July 2010 – 10am – 3pm + TMN

Thursday 26 August 2010 10am – 3pm + TMN (if there is one?)

Thursday 30 September 2010 – 10am – 3pm + TMN

October – in New York – sorry! (well not that sorry!)

Thursday 25 November 2010 – 10am – 3pm + TMN

December – no helpfulness ask Santa if you need something!

8 thoughts on “Being Helpful

  1. Dutch VS says:

    Nice idea Clare! I find myself in a similar situation with bands and artists calling up for advice and help. We do what we can – and have had some fabulous local success stories … but …. it’s not a sustainable model. Unlike you – I don’t seem to have an alternate plan … dammit!

  2. Robin Valk says:

    This is an excellent and noble thing that you are doing, Clare. However… if everyone buys you a coffee… by the time you get to the end of the day – TMN time – you’ll be totally manic and bouncing off the ceiling , and therefore no use to man or beast. So I think you should have the occasional herbal tisane to space out the caffeine hits :-).

  3. Karen Strunks says:

    That’s a brilliant idea! So simple and yet genius too.

    With more similar requests coming in, I do find it hard to take time out of my working day and work commitments.

    Like you, I like to help where I can. People have been kind enough to help me and I like to ‘share’ that with others too, but finding the time is a struggle.

    When I do meet with people, I try and meet as many as I can on the same day to maximize my use of time. That’s usually done by me travelling round the city to meet them – doh! I never thought of staying in one place!

    I’m finding it a struggle to keep up with friends properly too at the moment, so perhaps I can even dedicate the daytime for helping and the evening for socialising!

    Thanks for the prompt Clare 🙂

  4. clareedwards says:

    Well if there is a few of us that feel like this – come do it with me Karen and Dutch! Even if you don’t come every month (although we might start networking and not have time to help anyone!) – > anyway thinking out loud!

  5. Nicky Getgood says:

    I sometimes feel like this, getting a few brain-picking requests and finding time is stretched – I may join you if that’s ok! 🙂

  6. clareedwards says:

    Brilliant Nicky! There is some talk on Twitter of Pete Ashton thinking about doing something similar and he suggested mac – so watch this space – if I move venue I’ll let you know!

  7. Karen Strunks says:

    I think the mac would be a great venue – handy for me anyway lol.

    I’m going to have to thing about this & how it fits in with work. I could plan a date but if I get a photography job for that day, it will have to take priority & some jobs are quite last minute.

    Anyway, I watch this space & might join you on a help date.


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