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Sunday, January 30, 2011

What is your time worth?

In the last week, I've received 3 requests to teach or train people in various things. Basically, they want me to teach them what they should know 1) to do a particular job for which they don't want to hire someone or 2)to do the job for which they were hired, but clearly do not have the skills (or to teach someone they hired who is clearly undertrained). Oh, and did I mention for FREE?

I've been thinking about this long and hard -- for a variety of reasons, as one of my goals for this year is to evaluate my career path. A PhD has been on my list for a while, but there are other things there, too. This year, I am trying weigh each request against the benefits (including good deeds + karma). I'm not trying to oversell myself, but I get asked to do quite a bit: this week alone, 6 requests: 1 panel discussion, 1 workshop/keynote, 1 paid technology consultation, and the 3 requests for help/training...and still working out the details of the art commission (and still writing a book).

The training is by far the biggest timesuck with the minimal payout and in all honesty, I feel that people and organizations need to face the consequences of their hiring decisions. Didn't want to pay for the person who truly has the skills for the job? You're going to have to pay one way or another -- pay for training or pay for salary.

I certainly have taken advantage of training (both free and paid). I enjoy teaching and training; I do paid training (either through my day job) or as a consultant for Lyrasis. I also do workshops and guest lectures, though those are not at the same level. I do try to give back to the world when I can. I blog and tweet opportunities and I try to practice "share what you know".

However, actual training is not something that generally falls under 1 hour -- or even 2! Even if the time on the schedule is just 1 hour, I can guarantee you that I've spent waaaaay more than 1 hour putting together a lesson plan, pulling together resources, and then following up/review to ensure that my student(s) have concepts and/or materials. I continuously work on developing or maintaining my expertise: reading (almost) daily, networking with like minded individuals, attending workshops and webinars, testing software -- 99% which comes out of "my time". My time I could be doing art, eating lunch, going to the movies with my niece and nephew, or just soaking up the sunshine and listening to the birds. I'm not complaining because the payout usually justifies the work -- and I just can't work for free.

I don't mind answering questions, sharing my resources, or doing a guest presentations/lectures for a class or group; but if you want me to actual teach you how to do something, the payout better be worth it...and if that makes me a bad _____, then so be it, because my time IS worth something.

So what is your time worth? Do you make the best use of your time?


Will Marlow said...

I think anyone who has both been a consultant, AND who has been a serious blogger, can relate to this post. By definition, you are giving away a certain amount of your expertise for free by blogging, and I think that that sometimes creates an expectation that you never need to get any case, I just wanted to let you know that I think many, many people can relate to this post...but at the same time, I also think that when you manage expectations well, the benefits of blogging far outweigh the downsides, especially for someone in this line of work...cheers,

Anonymous said...

I give away free advice all the time. Sometimes I give advice to people who don't even want it.

All seriousness, I have been given far more advice than I could ever pay back.