The Least I Could Do

I’ve noticed that the people with the least to give are often the ones most guarded about giving it away. People sitting on a lot of value have no problem sharing it.

There are plenty of reasons for this. First, it’s impossible to give away a lot of value and not get something in return. There are better and worse trades, but it’s not possible to make the “value flow” 100% in one direction. If you took every possession you owned, liquidated it all, and started handing out money in the street until you were broke, someone would notice and something good would happen. You would learn something. You would make friends. Now, you might not think those things were worth your entire worldly net worth, but the point is you’d still have gotten something.

So people with a lot of value recognize that you can give a lot of value and create feedback loops. People with (even in their own perception) very little are much more guarded about it.

I have a friend who’s a personal trainer and who was also in charge of hiring personal trainers and fitness consultants at his gym. He told me a wild story about an applicant once – as part of the application process, he would have candidates create a sample fitness plan for a client.

This particular candidate, he says, turned in a “plan” that basically amounted to “tell the client to eat less and do cardio.” Perfectly fine advice as far as it goes, but certainly nothing revolutionary or that they weren’t doing already, and in more complex ways. But here’s the kicker – when the candidate was turned down for the job, he came back to the gym and wanted payment for his ‘consulting,’ since he said the gym had stolen his ideas!

“Look, you’re telling your clients that want to lose weight that they should eat less and exercise more! That’s awfully coincidental, hmmmmm?”

On top of being patently absurd, this also misses a huge opportunity. Reciprocity is real. If you share a fitness plan as part of an application, and you don’t get the job, asking for some advice on your approach is very likely to be well-received. My friend is a great guy, and he’d be happy to help an aspiring trainer improve his craft, even if he didn’t hire him. That could be a great contact for many years – and instead, you learned nothing, burned a bridge, and made yourself look silly.

The least you could do is learn. Don’t discard that value.

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