Someone in one of my MBA classes (years ago now) once asked me if I freely give away all my ideas and thoughts to each client, suggesting thus that holding back may be more beneficial financially in the long run.

I said yes. Every idea that comes is shared. He was not convinced of the prudence of that action. That question was raised again recently in Singapore. My answer remained the same.

Holding back from sharing ideas openly and freely is not giving my all to the relationship with the client. Holding back is being mean. It removes any opportunity for others to add to the idea, to participate in its blossoming. Holding back diminishes me and the relationship.

There is also a more insidious assumption behind not sharing. It is founded on fear – the fear that the client may steal my idea and make something out of it, thereby causing mew to “lose out” on something. The reality is, it is not that easy to just take a vague idea and turn it into some amazing runaway business success overnight. The advantages of open sharing – building trust and loyalty – is by far more rewarding than the fear.

I believe ideas are meant to be shared. That’s the only way they will thrive and make an impact. It dovetails with the giving a damn philosophy. If I am truly “for” my clients, I need to act accordingly. It dovetails with generosity. There is an unlimited supply of ideas and thoughts anyway. I can choose to send these out to the world, or forget them (space in my head and hard disks are finite!)

Of course, having a transparent attitude to sharing ideas does not extend to indiscriminately sharing confidential discussions with all and sundry.