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Posts Tagged ‘consultation

In Singapore, we have a saying: No money, no talk. This means that if someone approached you to work for free, you were entitled to not entertain them.

Now if only that was true. Some people work pro bono out of choice or are tricked into working for free. If they do the latter, they were out-negotiated by someone else. So I advise saying no to work-for-free unless you want to become a permanent volunteer.

Some things should not be negotiable. One of those things is personal well-being. I say: No health, no work, no money (the exceptions might be being paid to be a convincing corpse or patient in hospital).

Another thing I do NOT negotiate with is a lack of empathy or basic courtesy. Over the last few years of being a consultant in the fields of education and educational technology, I have met my share socially inept people.

Here are some clear signs of poor negotiators or representatives. They are:

  • rude and/or slow to respond
  • quick to speak and slow to listen
  • full of themselves or like to name drop
  • likely to make promises that they do not keep
  • self-proclaimed experts instead of relying on reputation

I say: No manners, no talk.

Vendors often want my advice for free. I take pains to contextualise instead of generalise. What I offer is a distillation of wisdoms that combine critical practice, reviewed research, and reflection that is both wide and deep.

Try putting a price on that.

Vendors also want my connections for free. They want me to put them in touch with “sure things”. I have built connections and nurtured relationships with time and trust. They want my endorsement, but what they risk is my reputation.

Try putting a price on that.

Overall vendors want my time for free or on the cheap. You would not expect anyone else who does any kind of work — from a doctor to a janitor — to do their job for free or for something below their worth.

Before you ask me for my advice, my recommendations, or my time, consider what those are worth and what I am worth. I am professional and I ask you to be one too.

I am going to have an interesting upcoming three weeks of work.

This week I conduct a seminar on personal learning networks (PLN). The following week I fly off to a conference to facilitate a discussion on flipped learning. After I return from that trip, I remotely mentor a group that formed as a result my talk on flipped learning in the UK last year.

I designed the PLN seminar like I do all my previous ones: As high on audience interaction as possible and to create cognitive dissonance. I aim to un-lecture.

The conference overseas will be interesting as I have no idea who I will meet. I typically get to know participants by polling them beforehand. But I know that whoever attends my session will be there because they want to, not because they have to.

While the first two are face-to-face encounters, the third will be a Google Hangout. I have only met one participant via Twitter and do not know who the rest are. But the remote session will be a cosier one than the first two.

I reflect on how such a variety of experiences seemed to fall on my lap. They did not because I was critical with my choices. I said no to the opportunities that looked good on the surface. I said yes to those where I could bring value and get value.

Year of the Horse by snap713, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License  by  snap713 

The Chinese zodiac tell us that this is the Year of the Horse.

At CeL’s department meeting last Friday, I told my staff that 2014 would be the year of change. More change than usual, that is.

On the personal front, last year seemed to be the year of talks for me. I was invited to give several even though I dislike talks.

This year is already turning out to be a year of school-based consultations. So far a handful have asked me to advise them on their technology-enabled journeys.

Like the talks, I can barely spare the bandwidth. Certainly not when I am teaching and barely when I have other change initiatives to manage.

But I think that action is still better than talk. So I will see which schools have the best fit and I will do my best to help.

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