In the last week I have been offered gifts for doing something that I would have done for free anyway. In both cases I declined but in the end, at their persuasive insistence, I relented to one of them. Both tested my values.
The first case was easier to deal with. Since working for myself, I have been involved in a lot of things. Some I should get paid for and do, some I should get paid for and don’t (at least not yet) and some I shouldn’t get paid for.
I sit on a number of boards for public sector organisations and don’t expect remuneration. I am there to offer what experience I have and see these as a way of paying society back for my good luck, if that isn’t too pretentious. The first offer was from one of these. I was asked for my home address so they could send me a gift as a thank you for my involvement. I declined on the grounds that one, I don’t think it is appropriate use of public money and two, it was not necessary. I simply replied that it was very kind of them and thanks all the same.
The second offer was from a commercial organisation, which makes a difference. I was asked to speak in a panel discussion at last week’s Cyber Security Live. It turned out to be quite a big event and the promoters, Probrand offered me some wired earphones. Whilst I didn’t need them they wanted all the speakers to be using the same headphones to make the event look homogeneous. How could I refuse? It turns out that they are quite useful, with a noise cancelling feature and now I use my wireless headphones with my phone and my wired ones with my ChromeBook.
Why then did these test my values? I’m not really sure. It seems wrong to me to accept payment for something that you are happy to do for free. For my events, which admittedly are not profit making, I rely upon many people to give their services unpaid, on the understanding that they will get some exposure for themselves and their organisation. What is good enough for them is good enough for me.
Thinking back though, I think there is a huge difference between commercial and public bodies. I am happy to take money from the latter but only if it is for work I have done and a price was agreed in advance.
It’s a funny old world.