Vaera Journeys

Travelogue

When Competitions Becomes Collaboration

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What if you took a second and stopped worrying about your competition? Let that sink in for a second. Competition in anything is often a good thing - it encourages creativity, keeps ideas fresh, and adds a bit of adrenaline to your career and livelihood. But more often than not, in business, the mantra has been to “crush” the competition. That seems like a wildly aggressive stance.

A friend of mine and fellow writer, Joni Sweet, who just happens to be a Vaera alumna, directed my attention to this article published by the Freelancer’s Union. In a nutshell, it describes why competition is healthy and why we need competition in business, and how there is more than enough room for everyone at the top. This is a great and very important message. But Joni and I, after discussion, believe that the real issue is that the conversation of competition needs to change and become collaboration.

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Take Joni and myself, for example. We are both freelance writers in New York City. We both want to be successful, and we both want our brand and names to be out there so that we can earn not only enough to live, but to be able to do the things we like to do. She and I are the perfect example of competitors, as we are truly going after the bulk of the same clients. You’d think that would lead to secrecy, not sharing our strategies, and a “keep your enemies closer” mentality.

This could not be farther from the truth. Instead, we are devoted coworkers, loyal, and honest. If she needs a contact that I have, I hand it over, and vice versa. In fact, it was through Joni that I was able to connect with some of my highest paying clients. In turn, I helped Joni get started with her career with a few key introductions (though she would have been wildly successful without my help, of this I have no doubt!).

The point is, though we work in the same EXACT industry, we are very, very different women. A story from her perspective will look completely different from mine. And even writing for the same publications, this is something that they value. The world is a mixed bag of perspectives, and it’s refreshing to have different angles, thoughts, points of view, and priorities.

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And her interests differ slightly from mine. What she doesn’t care to write about, I actually have great interest in, and vice versa. “I think when you're selling products and services that can be replicated by someone else, that's when competition matters more,” she said during our discussion. “I think when you're in the business of selling ideas, it's tough to say you have any true competition and our ideas get stronger when we can discuss them with people who have similar ideas.”

And even if you are in the business of selling products or services, there’s no reason to not collaborate and learn from your peers. We always have something to learn, and we equally always have something to teach. Working with those in your field, joining forces, collaboration, is how we all grow. Joni reminded me of aphorism ‘A rising tide lifts all boats.’ And this could not be more dead on. Why is our aim to sink the ships around us, when we all can sail together.

Meagan Drillinger