More than one person has called me a nice guy, and I like to think that I am. Being a nice guy means that I'll go out of my way to help as many people as possible. If you're a friend, then I'll go even above and beyond that to help out. Throughout my life, I've been the shoulder that people come to cry on and the ear that people confess their secrets to. It's who I am. It's how I want to live my life.
That said, I also have a family, mortgage and bills to pay. I want to send my children to college and ensure that there is food on the table every night for supper. In order to do that, I must have income to cover my expenses.
Lately, being a "nice guy" seems to be getting in my way of being paid. People and organizations make the assumption that in return for them buying me a drink or putting me on stage in front of an audience, they'll get everything from me, for free. I make a living as a consultant, speaker and creator. In order to continue doing that, I must be paid for the services I offer.
I know that I'm not alone in these thoughts, as I've spoken to numerous friends and colleagues who are seeing and experiencing the same thing. An example: Conferences will charge attendees to come, but won't even cover travel for speakers. Another: The growing trend of "pint consulting," where in exchange for a cup of coffee or a glass of beer, a company will expect to pick your brain. I want to help the world become a better place, but I also must take care of my life and family.
This post isn't meant to be a personal pity party. My hope is to shine a light on a problem that is becoming more prevalent. With so many nice guys and girls out there wanting to help people, they're getting taken advantage of. In this world -- where many things can be had for free -- people are starting to expect everything for free. That is not sustainable.
So, the next time you think about reaching out to someone to pick their brain or to give them exposure so your company/event/organization can make money, stop and realize that they need to make some as well.
I'll always be a nice guy. Will you be nice to me is the question?