I had chickened out all evening. But right before midnight, on April 14, 2016, I finally hit send on a Facebook message: “I’m starting a podcast. Would you consider being my co-host?”
The next morning, I awoke to a welcome, one-word reply from Amy: “Yes!”
Fifty episodes later, Grit ‘n’ Grace: Good Girls Breaking Bad Rules is celebrating its first birthday.
One reason our collaboration is still going strong is that we didn’t rush right into it. Instead, we spent several weeks talking, testing the waters, and intentionally laying down a solid foundation.
How to collaborate successfully
Based on our experience to collaborate, here are eight things we recommend that you find out or figure out before agreeing to collaborate on a project:
1. Your reasons for wanting to collaborate with each other. What’s drawing you to work together: friendship? a similar life experience or mutual interest? complementary skills? Pray-cess this question individually and discuss it together.
Also, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal selfish and mixed motives. If you’re feeling at all tempted to rush forward for fame, influence, or FOMO? Slow. Down.
2. Your definitions of success for this project. Don’t assume that you each view success the same way. Talk it through and develop a combined definition that includes concrete and abstract aspects.
While we keep an eye on our subscriber and download numbers, our bottom line success question is simple: Are we still having fun? As long as we both answer “Yes!” we’re still in business.
3. The strengths you each bring to the collaboration. Compare your StrengthsFinder 2.0 results.
We feel blessed to have complementary strengths: one of us has three strengths in the Executing category, while the other has three strengths in the Strategic Thinking category.
And the two strengths we do have in common — Input and Connectedness — guarantee that we’ll never ever run out of things to talk about!
4. The weaknesses you each bring to the collaboration. Based on your StrengthsFinder 2.0 results, ask yourselves: What deficiencies might we need to compensate for?
We’ve built a team of interns who assist with Influencing and relationship building — categories in which neither of us have skills.
You’ll also want to be up-front with each other about personal weaknesses, such as defensiveness, negativity, a tendency to view deadlines as mere suggestions, etc. Lead with honesty from the get-go.
5. Your plan for sharing costs and benefits. What are the anticipated initial expenses, and who will invest now? What’s the anticipated future income potential, and who will benefit later?
Money isn’t the only type of cost or benefit in a partnership. Instead of money, one or both of you may invest time, energy, expertise, influence, and/or other intangibles of value.
Discuss all of these in advance. If anyone has the sinking feeling I’m bringing so much more to the table, recognize it as a major red flag.
The best partnerships are those in which all parties secretly wonder How did I get blessed with the better end of this bargain?
6. Who will be in charge of what. Discuss and document how you’ll divide up the labor.
Before starting Grit ‘n’ Grace, we each went through podcasting task checklist from 7 Days to a Published Podcast and rated each task on a scale of 0 (I’d rather die) to 10 (I could do this all day).
When we shared our ratings with each other, we were so relieved: everything one hated, the other loved and visa versa. Not only did this make it easy to divvy up the titles — Amy as Producer and Cheri as Editor — but it was a wonderful confirmation of God’s leading.
7. Your respective communication preferences. Email? Phone call? Text Message? Voxer? Trello? Slack? Skype? (And if one of you prefers email, do you prefer 10 questions in one email, or 10 emails with one question each?)
Talk through your work flow to make sure you’re compatible … or at least adaptable.
The format of our collaboration lends itself nicely to “talking business” before and after we record episodes. During non-recording weeks, we rely on email and Trello.
8. The problem-solving process you’ll use when (not if) differences in assumptions, expectations, needs, and wants arise. One simple pre-decision is to schedule weekly check-in meetings during which emerging issues can be addressed before they become full-blown crises.
Amy set a precedent for absolute candor early on by asking, “So, what are we going to do if one of us wants to quit?” It has strengthened our partnership to be blunt sooner rather than bitter later.
Asking hard questions early on makes collaboration easier in the long run.
If you’re considering a collaborative project, get your FREE copy of “20 Questions You Need to Ask a Potential Collaborator”!