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Why ‘Good’ Advice should be Genuinely ‘Free’

Image courtesy – lifehacker


Just a few days ago I was complimented by an acquaintance who graciously said: ‘Thank you for your generosity of spirit’. From all my blogs and interactions with him in the past, he had essentially gathered — about my personality — that I had no qualms sharing what I knew freely.

It was a happy coincidence that just a day or two before he said these words, I was thinking of writing a post on why good advice should be free. His gratitude more than justified my thought…it justified my very existence as a thinker and writer.

I’ve personally always believed in sharing my knowledge and resources freely…without really wondering what I would get in return, or how it would add value to my work…or even to me as a person. For me it’s just a way of being… And honestly, I don’t know any other way to be.

But we are living in the times of a ‘freemium economy’ — where something is given free only to be charged for premium services later. Hence, we start seeing red whenever we get any information or knowledge free. We wonder what the up-sell or cross-sell is. We ask: How is the business model working? When will I get a notification for a sign-up or a follow-up email for a paid service?

This is not to condemn the freemium model in any way… It is indeed working successfully for many businesses… The whole internet is practically driven by it. I’ve been a part of it too. And I can’t complain about its efficacy.

What I’m essentially suggesting is, let’s try and delink advice from business. Even if you are in the business of consulting, advice should be given free, because only then will it be authentic, and only then will it result in trust, and consequently, sales.

As a thumb rule, charge instead for your skill or expertise, charge for your services and products, charge to train people and equip them. Because advice is not a tool you are giving people, or a strategy you are giving a company, it is your understanding of a particular topic, person or situation…

Advice largely emerges from your own need to give…from your need to impart to others what you already know.

But don’t give advice just to build brand equity or goodwill, all those things will come as a byproduct… Do it because you genuinely want someone to do well, make the right decisions, and live a good life… Do it because you want to see your industry grow, because you believe there’s a better way to do business, and because you want to bring about change.

Most importantly, by doing so you improve the lives of the people and businesses around you…and this in turn improves your life. Don’t we all want to be part of a society that nurtures and supports the growth of its own?

Moreover, with so many free channels available to share your thoughts on the internet, it doesn’t take much time or money to impart your knowledge anymore… All it takes is inclination and the will to help and be helped in return.

Which reminds me of a story — I went sailing with a group of friends. The gentleman who organised the enjoyable event was certified in the sport. He wanted us to enjoy the experience and give us a lesson or two in sailing as well. We thanked him for his time, asked him if he had paid to hire the sail boat, and if we could chip in for the amount. He graciously answered, ‘The sailing club hasn’t charged me, so why would I charge you.’

Picture taken by me while sailing

So, if you’re not paying to hire the boat, you could probably just show a few more people how to sail smoothly through life… Couldn’t you?

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1 Comment

  1. Ritika, could you try and add a better (more relatable) image for this post? please?

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