Your word. That is really all you have. NDA, MNDA, CA and other acronyms try and define silence and guide you to be discreet, but really it’s just your word. All you have is your spoken word, as in: I will not disclose this idea, concept, thought or effort to anyone, especially if it could be of any detriment to another.
Why does this matter?
Recently, a good friend of mine – Jane, had a really forward-thinking idea. In what she thought was a private setting, discretion was implied, but not defined, not talked about and certainly not signed off on. She gave it up… an idea, a notion she felt would help her firm and all involved.
Someone betrayed the implied rule of being discreet. That’s right, she shared a concept, an idea that would be awesome and someone couldn’t wait to flap their lips about it.
Was it my friend Jane’s fault? Admittedly, yes. She said it, she felt good about the group she was talking with, she felt sure they saw the value she was delivering, not only for her, but also for them. It didn’t matter. Once the bullets of words are fired, they cannot be put back into the weapon… your mouth.
Jane said this goes down as one of those moments in time she will never forget. She chose to let her emotions about the novel, the science project, a great concept or whatever she was noodling on out into the ether. She had no clue that this group, or maybe better said perhaps one person, in this intimate group would spill the beans.
Now all must suffer though it. The strained relationships, the weird feeling next time “they come around” and simply the sinking feeling that is in the pits of several stomachs following this episode.
OK then, what to do to stave off events like this in your world?
While nothing can protect you from a dirt-bag that wants to betray you, you can work, in a professional manner, to reduce your risk of exposure and betrayal. Invest a few hundred bucks in a Mutual Non-Disclosure Document. It’s simple. They, your audience of one or many, read it, and if they agree to the verbiage, they sign it. That signature is telling you, ”I will not give up your secrets that you share with me.” Sounds asinine to have to have that, but you really do and you really should.
The message here?
Never stop dreaming big. Do not let your thoughts, concepts and designs go dormant. Get them out there, someone may make them better. Someone may know how to run with it to make it the next big thing, but for goodness sakes, do what you can to minimize the vultures from feeding at the trough of your mind.
Until next time,