Do We Have an Inherent Problem With Sharing?

I took my kids to a water park the other day, and around certain areas, there are chairs set up for parents so they can watch their kids play in the giant toilets pools. Notice something in this picture? 2013-07-21 13.21.06

People have “staked out” their chairs, but technically don’t need them. They are somewhere else. So over 90% of the “community” chairs aren’t available for what they’re intended to do: let people sit on them. I think this bears consideration.

Do we have a problem with sharing?

There are lots of new apps and businesses built around sharing. AirBNB is about sharing your home or vacation place while you’re not there. Sidecar and other similar apps are for sharing rides. Breather is about sharing quiet space and/or office space.

But I think that while these kinds of opportunities are awesome, I’m curious how we, the people, are going to get with the picture. How will we shift from our scarcity mindset into something that lets us interact and share better?

An Owner’s Mindset on Sharing

There’s some great value in learning to share. Zack O’Malley Greenburg wrote a great article in Forbes about musician-and-entrepreneur Toby Keith, and the part that really struck me (well, the whole article was really useful to entrepreneurs) was that he made a move that turned out to be smarter than anyone typically would foresee.

Perhaps mindful of those precedents, Keith decided to share staff with another nascent label, Big Machine, run by an up-and-comer named Scott Borchetta. The singer bought a building in Nashville to house both labels. And rather than just operate like a co-op, Keith paid $400,000 for a stake in Big Machine that FORBES estimates remains around 10%.

That 10% stake ended up being a 10% stake in Taylor Swift. (Among others).

It was one of the great investments in recent music history. Borchetta went on to sign Rascal Flatts, Tim McGraw and, most notably, Taylor Swift. Now Keith gets paid whenever Swift does. “Toby’s a really smart businessman,” says Borchetta, who knows because “I send him checks.” How big are the checks that Swift generates for him? “I know there’s an extra comma,” smiles Keith, “if you added up all the money I’ve ever made.”

Consider that for a moment. Think about you as an owner, and as someone putting together a business. What do you own right now that you don’t need to own? What parts of the process, the system, the real estate, etc, are not as essential as you think? What could you share?

Take your towels off some of those chairs and you might find yourself in a much better position.

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