Collaboration, Nickelback and Why Martin Scorsese Will Never Be Robert De Niro.

“Martin Scorsese couldn’t say his movies would be better if he acted all the roles” Daniel Johns, from the documentary Music.

So true, right?

We can’t all be a one-person show all the time. In creation, in business or in life.  The problem is, collaboration is hard.  Especially for those of us who always think they’re right about everything.

Alison: I do NOT.

Scott: “pffffft…You do too…if you like three Nickelback songs, and you’ve only heard six Nickelback songs then you like Nickelback.

Alison: I do not!

Scott: Exactly.

We’ve been collaborating on projects and stuff for a few years now, and so we decided to look back and the work we do together and figure out why it’s worked so well for us.

Successful collaboration is the result of three things:

If everyone cared…


Then we wouldn’t need collaborators, now would we?  The truth is, most of the time we feel misunderstood.  Most of the time as humans, we just ache for someone to care, for someone to understand us and where we’re coming from.

Collaborators need to understand one another.  You can be different even opposites in personality, taste and style, but you need to get that person and feel that they get you.  We spend so much of our lives trying to make ourselves heard and understood.  A collaborator makes your voice stronger.

They are your sounding board.  Sometimes a stop sign, more often a speed bump reminding you to breathe.  A ramp to jump off.   A Collaborator gives true understanding without judgment. You can’t be afraid to fail in front of a collaborator.

If today was your last day…


As with all relationships, the good ones are based in trust.  If only one person could see your work, if today was the last time you would be able to create, who would you want to see it?  Who would you trust with your voice?

And we don’t mean anything as simple as tell the truth trust. I don’t mean what some people would call “brutal honesty” trust.  I mean knowing that the other’s feedback and contribution has value because they care and mean what they say.  Because you value their minds, and their vision.

Ones you should trust never start a conversation with “No offense, but…”

When we stand together…


You need to all care about the project as much as the other person.  True collaboration isn’t one sided. If I fail, they fail. If they succeed, I succeed.  If the work is only self-serving you aren’t a collaborator, you’re a contractor.

We’ve both spent long hours on one another projects.  We are quick defenders, motivators, editors and cheerleaders.  No matter the nature of what you create, when it goes out into the world, you stand by it together.  When the world comes, in love, hate or apathy to your door, you can trust that person will be there beside you. Trust here means that this is the opinion that matters.  No matter what other people say.  Trust means you will listen to each other.  And it means if the ship goes down, as it often does in business, you will go down with it together.

Alison: what the hell did you do to the subtitles??

Scott: I named them after your fave band’s songs! You’re welcome!!

Alison: … gotta love collaboration.

Like Scorsese and De Niro, the key is doing what we do best, finding others who make us better, and stand beside us through the highs a lows of creation.

Do you use collaboration in your business?  Any advice for collaborators or those still looking for their creation soul mates?  We’d love to hear them.

Wanna read more?

Say hi to Scott on twitter at @unmarketing, on Facebook or read more from him at

You can also check out his books UnMarketing and The Book Of Business Awesome/The Book Of Business UnAwesome

Say hi to Alison on twitter @nummiesbras or read more about, and by her, on the Nummies blog 

Article Posted 4 years Ago

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