Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Be Not A Doormat: Competition vs. Collaboration Part II

First, I want to express my gratitude to all of you who shared with me in person or in message your thoughts and feelings on my last post - THANK YOU!  I appreciate it so much!

Just in case you're a newcomer to this blog, or to the world and wit of Tempest, I don't want you to get the idea that while I'm professing the wonders of working together from my last post, that somehow I also expect you to just take everything and everyone as it is and deal with it while sacrificing your integrity, dignity, and/or sanity.

Far from it.

Cause my dears, there are sharks in that them waters. Really pretty, smooth-talking sharks, who act like they want to be your friends and best buds. And they may come in the form of teachers, promoters, peers, etc.

Now, frankly, I am the eternal optimist and I am not an alarmist. I like to give people the benefit of the doubt, and I have given my share of second (and sometimes third) chances. Sometimes it's worked out REALLY well, and sometimes it hasn't.  I also prefer to form my own opinions about someone for myself, rather than what the rumor mill says...cause, well, DUH.  But I've learned some things the hard way, and I wanted to share some insights I have discovered over the years that hopefully will help you out as well, so that you can have healthy collaborations and keep an eye out for the possible problems.

6 Personalities To Watch Out For That Make For Bad Collaborations:

"The Eventual": Do you have a friend who you know has intentionally mistreated another friend or maybe someone else you didn't know - and it really didn't sit well with you, but then you figured, well, I DO like them, and they treat ME just fine?  Well, it's only a matter of time. Eventually, it WILL be you. No, really, it's a sure bet.  Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but it will happen.

"The Eternal Victim": There are some serious bullies out there and real victims who need help. However, you need to go to amber alert when you come across someone who is always complaining about how they're being victimized. Every week or month, there's always someone new who is causing them harm, and they didn't do a thing wrong! The reality of it is, they are most likely attention-seekers, causing the issues themselves, or trying to cover up something else they're doing - or ALL OF THE ABOVE.  Run, run quickly.

"But Somebody Is Going To Steal It": Let's face it, it's a small world nowadays, and ideas make their way around.  Sometimes its via direct "inspiration" and sometimes the Muses are just slutty - someone can indeed come up with the same idea as you, but never have come in contact with you. The only thing you can do is focus on your plate, and anything you share with others, you pass along the instructions of "credit me" and hope for the best, and try to address it firmly when it doesn't happen. This is really the best attitude to have. However, you may come across somebody who is always downright paranoid about people "stealing" from them - they don't want their performances videotaped because someone is going to "steal" their choreography, or tell you where their music came from because someone is going to "steal" it, they don't give notes in their workshops, because it makes it easier for someone to "steal" it, etc.  Here's the hilarious irony behind this type of personality: they are most likely the ones "stealing" in the first place - acquiring stuff from others and not giving credit and are inwardly terrified of being called out on it.  It's a vicious insecurity cycle that is best to stay clear of.

"The Over-Enthusiastic and Under-Acting Flake":
Whenever good and fun ideas come around, everyone wants to be a part of them and specifically benefit from them, but very few are actually willing to do the hard work to make them happen.  There's always lots of lipservice and when it comes time to do get work done, they're nowhere to be found or they have a hundred excuses about why they can't help now.  Which increases the stress of everyone else involved who is already doing their share.  And putting on shows, events, managing a troupe, etc - is already stressful as it is, so start ideas small, with people who you know you can trust to get the work done in a timely matter.  Also, be firm in delegating tasks, with set deadlines and expectations (and consequences for failure), and it will help offset a lot of the potential flakes.

"For Fortune & Fame!": Bellydancing is not going to make you rich. But you can have a lot of awesome experiences and maybe make a living at it - teaching, performing, producing events, vending, etc. The internet has made it very easy to get out there - which is awesome, but it takes dedication, focus, and being grounded to make it for the long-run. So be wary of folks who think that getting involved with a project is going to somehow bring them fortune and fame.  They're rarely in it for the project itself.  It's OK to ask people why they want to do something - in fact I recommend it. If everyone involved has a similar motive/goal for why they're doing something, it tends to be a lot more successful for everyone involved.

"It Will Be Great Exposure!": Exposure is a 8-letter-long 4-letter word. People who don't want to pay you, regardless of what you're doing, like to sell this line a lot. Especially when they themselves are making money at it. Do an event because you believe in the event (like if you're performing for free at a benefit, ideally it should be a cause you're behind), not because you think/someone tells you it will get you exposure.  There is no way to be sure that any one event will get you in front of some pair of important eyes or get you out there. Do what you believe in and makes you feel good, and it will pay off in spades.

And now that I have outlined 6 things for you to avoid, here are: 

6 Things That Will Help You Move Forward In Any Community:

Clear Communication:
Unsure about something? Ask questions, don't assume. Speak up, respectfully. And stay in communication, answer emails promptly whenever possible - or if you're behind, let folks know, versus going radio silent.

Get It In Writing: 
Whether it's a contract or discussing plans for an event - get it in writing.  Keep a group document that says who is doing what, how much something costs, etc.  Don't rely on verbal discussions, because no one ever remembers it the same way.  Write it down!

Comprehensive Reading:
READ. Carefully. Seriously. When I am answering any email, I always read it several times before I reply to it - and also re-read it again (and also what I wrote) before I hit "send."  I cannot tell you how many replies I have gotten about things where the answer to someone's question was already answered in the email they just replied to.  Or they failed to answer the question proposed to them.

It's A Journey:
Anything that's worthwhile doing, is about the journey, not the destination, because the destination can change at any time. Set small goals that move you forward that are realistic, and you will be surprised how fast things will move, grow, and change - and in a healthy way!

"Please", "Thank you" and "I'm sorry" are important things to be sincere about.  No matter whether you are a newbie or the grand diva star or somewhere in-between. Golden Rule here people - treat others as you would like to be treated.  No one is better or more important than anyone else. No one.

Be Awesome, Be You: No really, I mean it.  Don't waste your time trying to be anyone else. Be the best YOU you can be - as a dancer, as a student, as a promoter, as a vendor. Own being you, be aware of your issues and work to improve what you can. Treat yourself with respect, and truly be kind to yourself.  That is how you can be awesome.

Go forth! Be awesome!


  1. Great article! I love how clear and concise the six helpful things are :)

    Now is it just me, or do you often find that a lot of the people who you don't want to work with are about 2 or 3 of those descriptions rolled into one?

    1. Nope, it's not just you - yeah, I can think of a few people who definitely score at least 2-3 of those, if not more. They are SPECIAL :)

  2. This is all such good advice. The only thing I would add to the things to move forward in any community is to remember it's not a competition. Measure yourself against your own goals, not against what other people have done or what you think you might be owed by other people.