Thoughts on Collaborating with Others

For some reason, I’ve had a few conversations recently about collaborating and building a team with others. So, I’m pretty much an expert on the matter.


Okay, maybe not, but it certainly got me thinking about the subject, since I’ve had the pleasure of being involved with multiple communities and collaborative efforts. The fact is, there are few things more inspiring and exciting to me than getting together with other creative people and learning from each other or developing ideas together.  I may not have created the most amazing stuff, but I’ve been able to work together with some freakin’ awesome people, and I’ve learned a thing or two about how to build a team. Or at least, what’s worked for me:


1. Find the people who are doing similar things.

Maybe they’re not doing exactly the same thing, and maybe they’re not taking it as seriously as you, and maybe their talents are different from yours. They may be further along in their journey or a few steps behind. But find them, and take an active interest in what they’re doing, and try to help wherever you can. And if you can’t, use your connections to see if other people can help. This will build you some cred, and people will want to reciprocate.

2. Share your journey and your passion.

When I got a new book on screenwriting, I told people about it. When I started working on my storyboard, I posted photos of my process. I shared drafts of my story outline with respected writers and mentors, to get their insight.

I share other peoples’ stuff, too. If I guested on someone’s podcast, I tell people about it. When I see a friend do something cool, I spread the word! If someone helped me with my project, I’ll spread the word about their project!

As we share our journey proactively with others, people see what we’re doing, and it resonates with them… and they let you know. In some cases, you discover, “Hey, I’ve known you all this time and had no idea you were interested in this too! Let’s do something some time!” In other cases, you find that your passion and excitement is infectious, and people who were on the fence before take an interest in either DOING what you’re doing, or even just HELPING you do what you’re passionate about.

3. Be organic whenever possible.

Be intentional about getting involved with communities. Be intentional about helping others. But when it comes to building the team, forming relationships, identifying key collaborators and partners, organic is always best. Whenever I’ve been part of someone’s “inner circle,” or they’ve been part of mine, it’s been organic. Either we were already friends and started working on something together, or we were already doing similar things and started connecting through that. But the moment I feel like I’m having to force a partnership, or am being forced into one, I’m out.

4. Above all, be genuine.

I’m a firm believer in never taking yourself too seriously. Take your passion seriously, take your personal development seriously, but never think too highly of yourself, and always make sure you’re being completely honest with yourself and others.

If you want to connect with other creatives and leaders, do it because you THRIVE on collaboration and because you love to listen and learn from others. Don’t do it if you just want something from them, or want them to do something for you.

If you have something difficult to say, say it as tactfully as you can without sacrificing the truth. I think people recover a lot faster from having their egos bruised than from having their delusions sustained.

If you have something difficult to say, make sure it’s because it needs to be said, because it’s based in reality –and not based on feeding your own ego (which is really just feeding your own delusions).

Don’t put yourself on a pedestal, but don’t put anyone else there, either. We all have strengths and weaknesses. Know them, and figure out how they fit together.

Whatever contagion passion contains, egos and delusions of grandeur will cure.

  • Francisco

    #3. Be Organic Whenever Possible…
    So I need to shop at Whole Foods or a CSA?

    In all seriousness though, I really appreciated you sharing your thoughts on collaboration Chirs! A perennial desire I have is to start/be a part of a master mind group (not a Success Face one, a real one :p) to hear how other people are putting their passion into action, and share my own. Not exactly collaboration, but in that wheel house.

    The two things that really struck came from being genuine:
    – “Take your passion seriously, take your personal development seriously, but never think too highly of yourself”
    – “Don’t put yourself on a pedestal, but don’t put anyone else there, either.” I struggle with building pedestals for others :/

    And a question for you regarding sharing your journey: I struggle with thinking people don’t care about the process, keeping me from sharing much but a “finished” product – did you ever have a similar struggle?
    Thanks again 🙂

    • Haha! Just avoid WalMart and Winco, I guess!

      I’ve considered Masterminds before, but never been a part of one. I think it definitely counts as collaboration. The biggest concern I have is when they have a price tag, especially a high one. For now, simply building relationships with other like minded people organically has been pretty awesome for me. If you ever join a Mastermind, let me know how it goes, though! I’m curious!

      As for your question: I’m such a narcissist, the thought rarely occurs to me that people won’t be interested. I’m sure there are plenty who won’t be interested, but there are enough people out there who find the creative process both interesting and inspiring to make it worthwhile. If there weren’t, movies wouldn’t have Special Features!

      • Francisco

        I think the MMGs that you have to pay for /coughsuccessfacecough :p depend on your trust of the person heading it, but then I think you are still essentially forcing it to happen, whereas organic seems more viable in the long run. Will let you know if I do get involved in one 🙂

        Awesome point about Special Features! Although for me, special features only matter if they are added to a movie I care about, a finished product. But if you are following a creator, I suppose they could be thought of as the product, and then your point becomes valid again.