It’s the end of another Meetup and time for some networking, socializing, and Q&A. I love this time. Besides the occasional times I get to speak at a Meetup and teach the whole room something, it is also the time I can talk one-on-one with attendees who need help and want to learn.
However as the months pass I notice a trend with how the questions are phrased, and the undertone to what is being asked. Sometimes it’s easy to spot, sometimes not, and sometimes it comes days or weeks later in an email.
Wanting to learn something new is something I commend and want to help you with. Wanting to get your client’s website finished without spending money on the functionality that is over your head is not something I want to help you with.
I am so committed to teaching that I spend my time outside of my day job to write and record on Lynda.com, I also attend and speak at WordCamps, teaching things I know. I will be committed to teaching you and I’ll do it for free.
Learning is a commitment that you need to make to me: to listen, to take notes, and to actually digest. If I am a bad teacher, that is on me, but not being active in learning means you never wanted to learn in the first place.
This is where I’ve noticed my time being spent more and more with people finding me at Meetups. I get emails sometimes weeks after that start with “Roy, I have a client, and I don’t know how to do [insert functionality here] and I want to learn how…” or something along those lines. This is not a request to learn something, but a request to fake learning in order for me to help dig you out of a hole.
There are plenty of articles, blogs, and videos out there talking about how free work in any other industry is laughable, however it still comes up. Earlier this year my friend Chris Flannagan wrote this awesome piece on how he doesn’t like helping people, but he will teach someone, which is exactly how I feel right now.
As I face more of these of individuals I have less patience for those who actually want to learn, and I hate myself for it. When I’d usually make time instantly for someone wanting to pick my brain or learn, I now question it and more often than not I try to shove it off in emails.
This is something I’m working on now. I’m trying to get back into giving back. I need to stop assuming that everyone wants to buy me coffee just to watch me code and not learn anything, so they can get paid. The thought of that, though, just infuriates me to no end, mainly ’cause I’ve been there more than a handful of times.
I want to propose a new deal. I will help you learn whatever it is you need to do for your client if you take the time to learn from me so you advance yourself. If you have no desire to level up please be honest. I am not going to look down on you for not wanting to be a developer or learn how to code something. I will respect the honesty from you and in return I will be honest to you, and say I can help you for my hourly rate.
I want to preface this with something. If you want to learn something, I can’t take you the whole way. For example
So let’s move forward with a new deal where you are honest to me. And if you do want to learn, I will make time to teach you. Sound good?