Open vs. Closed Source Paradigms: Which Do You Choose for Your Business and Life?

by Marcus Sheridan

Open Source—I’d never heard the phrase until I’d entered the world of internet marketing, but the first time I’d learned of this incredible idea it brought a smile to my face. For those of your unfamiliar with ‘open source’, it basically has its roots in the development of software that isn’t proprietary per se, but rather open for the masses to work on, use, improve and therefore benefit the public.

Are you 'Open Source'?

I mention this because I had quite an interesting experience this week that I thought was quite a telling example of the two paradigms business owners, marketers, and humans in general can choose to have in 2010 and beyond when it comes to ‘Open vs Closed Source’. It went a little something like this:

On one of my more popular swimming pool educational videos shown on YouTube, a guy, obviously pretty bright, left a comment explaining how I was scientifically wrong with the information I had shared in the video. Not wanting to give any misinformation, and despite the fact the gentleman was a little condescending in his comment, I decided to surprise this fellow and send him a message with the invitation to write a guest post on my popular swimming pool blog about the subject and break it all down scientifically so that others could better understand the product of discussion. I also told him he’d get a link back to his website and it would be quite a positive branding move on his part.

What happened next though is what surprised me. When the gentleman responded back to my invitation of a guest post, he basically said he was not interested in sharing his intellectual property because he was too busy with other projects and didn’t have the time. I knew such a claim was bogus and therefore decided to give him a little verbal jab by telling him, in a concise way, how I felt about his position:

“Interesting, I thought you shared an ‘open source’ paradigm.”

Knowing the person on the receiving end of the message was quite the analytic based on his previous comments, I knew such a statement would not settle well. And to no surprise, a few days later the person wrote me a lengthy response, part of which included the following, word for word:

“What made you think that I had an “Open Source” paradigm?

I share information where I can; however, I still have to make money, like anyone else. You make money based on your specialized knowledge. You don’t give it all away for free. People pay you because you know things that they don’t know.”

At this point, my communication with this gentleman ended. I’d made my point. He’d made his. But there was a major philosophical difference that came out between me and this individual, and it was with this statement:

“You don’t give it all away for free.”

Excuse me sir, but this is where you’re wrong. In fact, anyone that reads this blog or has been to one of my seminars knows exactly what I’m talking about here.  Everything I know is given away for free. I hold nothing back…which is exactly why people pay me. And it’s exactly because I have given so much away for free that people will in-turn trust me and ultimately use my services. Fact is, I do give away everything. Why? Simple:

The Law of Reciprocity is real. The Law of Abundance never fails.

This gentleman, although very knowledgeable, clearly just doesn’t understand how these laws work. He’s afraid of giving too much truth and therefore suffers from a ‘lack’ mentality. And frankly, it’s sad.

Over the past 18 months I’ve written over 200 ‘self-help’ articles. About half are about swimming pools. The other half are found herein at The Sales Lion. This ‘giving’, which at times has brought me major criticism from the industry’s ‘status quo’, has lead to unbelievable changes in my life. My personal brand and finances have been blessed. I’ve made tremendous friendships and helped thousands of people. Each and every day seems as if it’s bringing with it another piece of joy, satisfaction, and opportunity. In short, I have given much, and received even more.

But may I also say I knew this would happen. It’s no surprise. Again, that’s just how the Universe and its laws work. It’s always been that way and will only continue to be.

I don’t mention these things to brag. Any of you that read this blog regularly know it’s not my style. I only say this to stress the need that we all have to live and act with an abundant mentality. Be ‘open source’ in all things. Don’t be that guy who hoards truth and lives his life with a constant sense of lacking. Give, give, give. By so doing, I can testify to you that your acts and teachings will be rewarded as temporal and spiritual blessings will abound in your life.

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Joe August 28, 2010 at

Marcus,
Nice post..I’ve noticed some postings on another construction related web site and some engineers/architects had that same philosophy.

At first they said they wouldn’t share particular information because they had spent dollars and time getting the education etc., I could see their point of view but it still didn’t sit right.
Not only should you give on basic philosophy, it’s like having all friends around the campfire but when the story torch comes to you, you say you can’t tell a story because I hadn’t paid for the story.

Yes I did, I’m around the campfire, I helped build the fire and the camp.
Anyway, good post..thanks for sharing.

Joe

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Marcus Sheridan August 28, 2010 at

Wow Joe, perfect analogy with the campfire and sharing….in fact, I think I’ll borrow that one sometime ;-)

Thanks so much for stopping by though, hope to see you around these parts again.

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Farouk August 29, 2010 at

interesting article, thanks for the information :)

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Marcus Sheridan August 30, 2010 at

Thanks for stopping by Farouk :-)

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Gabe August 29, 2010 at

Interesting story Marcus. It’s good that you share this with us so that we can hopefully get a better understanding of the laws, open vs. closed source and so forth.
.-= Gabe´s last blog ..Benefits of Being a Leader =-.

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Marcus Sheridan August 30, 2010 at

Thanks Gabe. The fact that you’ve just started a blog shows you come from an ‘open source’ paradigm, so big props to you for making such a move. Keep doing what you’re doing, and the abundance will flow into your life.

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Daniel M. Wood August 30, 2010 at

Very true Marcus,

Giving is always key to your future.
Just look at this blog for example. You are giving away valuable tips every week on how to run a business and use the internet to supplement it.

All the information is here for free while you get feedback on what others think and on what your readers feel is important and what they need more help with.

If you wanted to you could take all of these posts and package it as a book and sell it (or another monetized shape) and people would pay! Even though the information is free on your blog, the package a book is, makes the knowledge easily accessible and worth paying a little extra for.

That way you can give away all the knowledge for free, update it with the input of others and then sell the information for a profit, just to name one example of the value of giving.
Second of course is that you have built an audience who is willing to buy it, you wouldn’t have that audience if you didn’t give first.
.-= Daniel M. Wood´s last blog ..Ask For The Contract and You Will Get It! =-.

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Marcus Sheridan August 30, 2010 at

Great point’s Daniel. In order to ask someone to spend their hard-earned $$$, one sure as heck needs to give that person value first. And in the 21st century, there is no better way to do that than by information marketing. Your blog is a perfect example of this. Instead of hoarding your ‘trade secrets’, you give them to everyone. Heck, I’m sure you’ve got competitors that read your blog and you don’t care, because you see the ‘BIG’ picture. Good for you Daniel— you’re going places my friend :-)

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Daniel M. Wood August 30, 2010 at

Yeah I have sure felt the value of content marketing.
The spread my words have today are completely different from just 6 months ago.

And yes some of my competitors do read my blog, I get the occasional email from some of them asking me for advice and/or saying they admire what I do, talk about your ego boost ;)

Keep up the good work my friend and don’t let guys like him in your article bring you down!
.-= Daniel M. Wood´s last blog ..Ask For The Contract and You Will Get It! =-.

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Darth C. August 2, 2011 at

““You don’t give it all away for free.”

That is actually not correct. Nothing is “for free”, not in this universe. there’s always a benefit, even from the most “unselfish” act.

Does any entity in the universe give something for free, free as in “without no form of personal benefit”? The answer is simple: NO.

The plants we eat take the CO2 from us, the stars use hydrogen from the Universe itself for their shining…

Every being benefits in some sort for the “work” they develop…

Even the gods of different religious orientation seem to not offer their “protection”, “love”, “compassion” without a price. One doesn’t earn their place in ” heaven” without paying the right price, which may take different shapes, too: time consuming rituals, offerings, fasting etc.

The benefit may take different forms: time, energy, money, influence, publicity…

What do we deduct from here? Everything is linked and different shapes use different fuels for their own conservation.

So stop bragging about the fact that you “give stuff for free”, okay? Nobody “gives” anything. All entities are vehicles through which Something Else travels. Another funny way of seeing it may be: “one is given the ability to give…”.
However, there is always a benefit, for all sides involved.

As for your discussion with that gentlemen, you are both wrong. You both benefit from your doings. He misses the fact that the power through which he “does” anything (from which we all do anything, in fact) comes from Something Else, while you overlook that without gaining something from your actions, if only the satisfaction of being “good”, you wouldn’t be that “selfless” anymore…

But, since you also receive material profit, derived from your carefully arranged publicity, at least he is more honest about his trade, since he doesn’t hide behind “altruism”.

P.S. The “Check if You Think Lions are Cool (and you’re NOT spam;-)” button may be perceived as a subtle way (relating it to spam protection and veiled by the pretense of a harmless joke) of forcing people into admitting volens-nolens the value of your brand… Think again.

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Marcus Sheridan August 2, 2011 at

Darth, here’s a suggestion:

1. Use your real name
2. Stop over-reading ‘The Power of Now’ or ‘Celestine Prophecy’ and acting like your a Jedi (really weird bro)
3. Start a blog so that you can meet your need to feel connected and understood….which is obviously quite lacking at the moment.
4. Learn to build relationships in your life, not alienate yourself from others.
5. Smile more often, it helps.

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Darth C. August 4, 2011 at

Ever considered that:

1. Names are just labels that don’t define our very Selves? Unlike terrans, I choose my Name…

2. If you think Jedi are myth/extinct.. that’s exactly what we want you to think… :)

3. Connected?! Understood?! Maybe you are projecting your own needs here, ignorant of the fact that nothing in the Universe is disconnected or not understood. I have no such “needs”, as you call them. I am but a visitor to this weird in the way of thinking planet.

4. Alienate? Cute that you use this very word. :)
Again, building “relations” the way you humans see them is not my purpose here. Your earthian concept of “love” is just another aspect of your economy, anyway. After all, somebody must inherit your “gatherings”…

I’m simply entertaining myself. And having fun of your millennial mental stereotypes in the process… :)

5. I make no promises for me, but if I made you smile, then you are not entirely lost :)

And btw, I don’t care how you earn your living and your “relations”, but just don’t act like you’re a saint or something…

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