Clark Quinn's Learnings about Learning
(The Official Quinnovation blog)

3 August 2017

My policies

Clark @ 8:04 AM

Like most of you, I get a lot of requests for a lot of things. Too many, really. So I’ve had to put in policies to be able to cope.  I like to provide a response (I feel it’s important to communicate the underlying rationale), so I have stock blurbs that I cut and paste (with an occasional edit for a specific context).  I don’t want to repeat them here, but instead I want to be clear about why certain types of actions are going to get certain types of response. Consider this a public service announcement.

So, I get a lot of requests to link on LinkedIn, and I’m happy to, with a caveat. First, you should have some clear relationship to learning technology. Or be willing to explain why you want to link. I use LinkedIn for business connections, so I’m linked to lots of people I don’t even know, but they’re in our field.

I ask those not in learntech why they want to link. Some do respond, and often have a real reason (shifting to this field, their title masks a real role), and I’m glad I asked.  Other times it’s the ‘Nigerian Prince’ or equivalent. And those will get reported. Recently, it’s new folk who claim they just want to connect to someone with experience. Er, no.  Read this blog, instead. I also have a special message to those in learntech with biz dev/sales/etc roles; I’ll link, but if they pitch me, they’ll get summarily unlinked (and I do).

And I likely won’t link to you on Facebook.  That’s personal. Friends and family. Try LinkedIn instead.

I get lots of emails, particularly from elearning or tech development firms, offering to have a conversation about their services.  I’m sorry, but don’t you realize, with all the time I’ve been in the field, that I have ‘goto’ partners? And I don’t do biz dev: develop contracts and outsource production. As Donald H Taylor so aptly puts it, you haven’t established a sufficient relationship to justify offering me anything.

Then, I get email with announcements of new moves and the like.  Apparently, with an expectation that I’ll blog it.  WTH?  Somehow, people think this blog is for PR.  No, as it says quite clearly at the top of the page, this is for my learnings about learning.  I let them know that I pay attention to what comes through my social media channels, not what comes unsolicited.  I also ask what list they got my name from, so I can squelch it. And sometimes they have!

I used to get a lot of offers to either receive or write blog posts. (This had died down, but has resurrected recently.)  For marketing links, obviously. I don’t want your posts; see the above: my learnings!  And I won’t write for you for free. Hey, that’s a service.  See below.

And I get calls with folks offering me a place at their event.  They’re pretty easy to detect: they ask about would I like to have access to a specific audience,…  I have learned to quickly ask if it’s a pay to play.  It always is, and I have to explain that that’s not how I market myself.  Maybe I’m wrong, but I see that working for big firms with trained sales folks, not me. I already have my marketing channels. And I speak and write as a service!

I similarly get a lot of emails that let me know about a new product and invite me to view it and give my opinion.  NO!  First, I could spend my whole day with these. Second, and more importantly, my opinion is valuable!  It’s the basis of 35+ years of work at the cutting edge of learning and technology. And you want it for free?  As if.  Let’s talk some real evaluation, as an engagement.  I’ve done that, and can for you.

As I’ve explained many times, my principles are simple: I talk ideas for free; I help someone personally for drinks/dinner; if someone’s making a quid, I get a cut.  And everyone seems fine with that, once I explain it. I occasionally get taken advantage of, but I try to make it only once for each way (fool me…).   But the number of people who seem to think that I should speak/write/consult for free continues to boggle my mind.  Exposure?  I think you’re overvaluing your platform.

Look, I think there’s sufficient evidence that I’m very good at what I do. If you want to refine your learning design processes, take your L&D strategy into the 21st century, and generally align what you do with how we think, work, and learn, let’s talk.  Let’s see if there’s a viable benefit to you that’s a fair return for me. Lots of folks have found that to be the case.  I’ll even offer the first conversation free, but let’s make sure there’s a clear two-way relationship on the table and explore it.  Fair enough?




  1. Really? I mean… REALLY??

    I guess you’ve been so successful for so long that you forget how hard it is to learn and establish your career. There is a naivety that comes with the process of learning to build a business: some might not know that they should offer you money for your advice because they haven’t themselves experienced what it is like to be paid for their work yet.

    Shame on you, Clark. People look up to you as a mentor. It’s sad to see how you’ve lost perspective and compassion for your fellow human.

    This myopic, self-indulgence is beneath you.

    Comment by Sils Blavet — 3 August 2017 @ 5:25 PM

  2. Sils, that’s very strong feedback, thanks. I did a reality check, and perhaps it was a tad harsh. Let me rephrase it, and see if my policies still seem unfair:

    First, I link(edin) with almost anyone where I can see some connection to learning, technology, and/or design/strategy. Because it has frequently been the case that if they’re in biz dev and sales, I immediately get a pitch (see Donald J Taylor’s message as validation), I simply add a codicil saying that I don’t want that. I don’t connect out of the field; that seems counter to the spirit of the site.

    I think my ‘talk ideas for free, help someone for drinks/dinner (and that’s just a hint ;), if someone’s making a quid I get a cut’ is a very fair approach.

    So I contribute to the field (hopefully not least thru this blog), including reviewing journal and conference submissions, interviews, and requests from students and people starting up. And more little things than I can list. Ideas for free, helping someone personally.

    The only thing I get a wee bit twisted up about, and it’s frequent enough that I have some ‘cut and paste’ responses, is people who expect me to work for free, or for ‘exposure’, or even to pay for the privilege! So, I won’t look at your product and provide my expert opinion. I won’t do a webinar for free if you’re charging other people. I won’t blog about your press release. And I won’t accept your post for my blog, nor write a post for you for free. Just search on “work for exposure” to see the cynical side of this. This is the ‘making a quid’ piece. I’m open to all sorts of relationships, but they have to be mutually fair. And many people have happily taken me up on one or the other of these.

    Does this help?

    Yes, I write and talk a lot. That doesn’t feed the wolves (it’s pretty much just pocket change), it’s consulting that pays the bills. The speaking/writing acts as marketing for the work, and finding new work is a continual process. And I’m still learning (e.g. my biz dev skills are a work in progress). I have to manage my time, and I try to do it with compassion. Even my boilerplate messages explain why, and I believe the messages are respectful (I’ll check ;), if forthright.

    I welcome your thoughts. Thanks again for your contribution.

    Comment by Clark — 4 August 2017 @ 11:19 AM

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