Intro: Welcome to Words That Move Me, the podcast where movers and shakers, like you, get the information and inspiration you need to navigate your creative career with clarity and confidence. I am your host, Dana Wilson, and I move people. I am all about the tools and techniques that empower tomorrow's leaders to make the work of their dreams and live a full life while doing it. So whether you're new to the game or transitioning to your next echelon of greatness, you're in the right place.
Dana: Alright, alrightmy friend. Welcome to words that move me. My name is Dana. I am stoked that you're here and I think this one's gonna be a quickie because I'm recording on my laptop and I don't have my charger with me, and I'm already getting the red light. My Mac will sleep soon unless plugged into a power outlet.
So let's get into it. Um, we are living this human life and isn't that a wonderful thing? <laugh> ups and downs and fulls and empties, all sorts of degrees of being charged up. Um, but I want to quickly tell you about a little contest that we're running. We are doing a giveaway, a two ticket giveaway to the World Choreography Awards, which is happening on November 15th. If you're listening to this on the day of its release, that is next Tuesday, Y'all, um, here is how you enter to win really easy and it should, should not take any time at all if you play your cards right. Um, all you have to do is follow us on TikTok. Yep, we're on TikTok. Stay focused now. Hit the follow button and get the hell out of there. Come back to this episode because I'm really excited for today's topic.
Um, but let me, let me give you all the details on this giveaway first. On Monday, November 14th, we will select at random a TikTok follower and gift them two tickets to the show the following night. The World Choreography Awards is here in Los Angeles at 7:00 PM on the 15th. I will be there. The seaweed sisters will be there. The Choreographers Guild will be there in full force along with so many phenomenal choreographers and their teams. I cannot wait. You cannot wait. You wanna be there. I wanna see you on TikTok. It's a match made in heaven. Good luck and good night, jk. We're still going. Moving on. Today's topic came up recently in conversation with a friend and it actually comes up a lot when I coach and work with aspiring professional dancers. But it also still comes up with my friends, uh, and with clients who are already well established and well connected because sometimes those connections wind up asking for that homey discount.
You know what I mean? Yes. Today we are talking about if, when and why a creative type such as yourself might discount their services to zero or to any percentage other than their regular fee. Uh, people have a lot of thoughts on when and who should be working for free. So if you are swimming in confusion around your value and where you should spend it, or if you've ever even felt that awkward moment of I should probably do this or I really want to do this, but I shouldn't do this, this episode is for you. But first, let's do some wins and we'll keep 'em quick. Today I am celebrating being a dog nanny. Again, <laugh> the feeling of waking up sandwiched between two sleeping beasts that are about the same size as you are. Man, it is really something else. I cherish it so much. I cherish you Kat Burns. Thank you for trusting me with your pones. I am loving me so many. And Bruce, that's my win. Now you go, What's going well in your world?
Yay. All right my friend. Keep crushing it. You've got this. I've got you. I'm proud of you. Benny and Bruce are proud of you. I know it. They just texted me. They told me. Um, anyways, you're supported. All right, let's get into this. We know that money isn't the only valuable resource in the world. In fact, I am sure that you've heard of every low budget production's favorite currency exposure, right? Like we can't pay you, but it's gonna be great exposure. This is my least favorite form of, um, <laugh>, we'll call it money adjacent currency. Anywho, on top of the work for exposure problem is this. In creative fields where our work also brings us joy and fulfillment, it can be hard to untangle the decision of whether or not you will exchange your time and talent for a discounted rate or for free. So let's start untangling, shall we?
Let's start by remembering the many shades of work and the many types of free, right? Those aren't really crystal in those two things. There is work as in delivering a good or service in exchange for money. Um, actually I did pull this up up in some research. The dictionary puts it as the following work is mental or physical activity as a means of earning income. That is one of the many definitions of work. Uh, but there's also work as in work shopping, right? Like workshopping an idea, aka the mental and physical effort that comes before the product or service or income <laugh> before there's even a guarantee of any income. Sometimes in our dance world, work can actually be play like literally playing a game and the product of that play might someday later down the road turn into a project. It might even turn into income.
In my eyes, those are the different types of work that our dance life will, will encounter. Yes, I am aware that it is a tremendous privilege that one of our types of work is play anyways. It's also essential if you ask me. But moving on, there are also shades of pay. For example, can't pay you for your time or can't pay you an hourly rate, but can pay for your gas, will cover your food for the day. Promise you won't come out of pocket at all or can't pay for gas, food or your time. But you can keep all this footage and use it in any way you see fit. My point is there is almost always an exchange of some sort. So let's talk about if you should be exchanging your time and talent for not money <laugh>, while we're here for the rest of this episode.
When I say work for free, you can also substitute work at a seriously discounted rate. I really do think that these um, tools and ways of thinking can apply to both. So here's my first thought on the subject of if you should be working for free. My first thought is that people are gonna say stuff. People will say things. This is a universal truth and it is just as true that people will say conflicting things, right? You know this to be true. People will tell you that you should get as much experience as possible. You should put your time in. You should start at the bottom and work your way up. Actually, Miguel Zarate and Mod Arnold both had a lot to say on this subject when I had them on the podcast. Um, Miguel was episode 74. Mod was 1 0 8. Um, I will 100% be linking to those episodes in the show notes cuz some deeper digging I think on this subject especially is really important.
Anyways, it's a popular piece of advice to give up and comers who are, who are just starting out that you should take every opportunity you can. I've heard it, I've said it <laugh>, but people will also say the exact opposite. You shouldn't work for free. Working for free is bad for the community. It undercuts those who hope to establish higher industry standard. Minimum rates like this can be damaging, You shouldn't do it. Um, or or if you are doing it, you're being taken advantage of. You should know your worth. Don't you know that you're worth more than nothing? Like you should act. Your wage was the word that we always said, um, in our dancers alliance advertising. And I do believe that you should. Here's the funny thing. I mean, every single sentence that I just rambled could be true. You shouldn't work for free.
You should put your time in. You should get as much experience as possible. You should know your worth. And I, and I think there is a world in which all of those things can be true. I just, I, I do think it's funny that everyone who says you shouldn't work for free probably has <laugh> and almost certainly has asked someone to. So here's the bottom line for for me, since, since this will never parcel out into nice, you know, clean cut, you know, shoulds and shouldn'ts. Alwayss and nevers is the bottom line for me is that people say different things because they have different values, period. People not only have different values mind you, but they have different ideas about the exact value of those valuable things. Meta. Now, I don't know if you noticed on both sides of this argument, the should take work and shouldn't take work for free.
Both of those sides of the argument have something in common and it's the very nature of their position shoulds and shouldn't. This es this, this, you know, one way is right, the other way is wrong idea. Now I know that we've gotta have some kind of rules, some kind of guiding principles as a community to avoid complete chaos. But in so many cases, maybe not all cases, but in so many cases, working for free is really not one of those right, wrong, good, bad, black, white types of issues. So making this decision can be hard. Now, you probably started listening to this episode because you know that making this decision is hard and you're hoping you could get an answer, Yes, I should work for free, or no, at this point in my life, Dana says I should never be working for free again. And it might sound kind of like I'm copying out by not giving you an answer, like throwing my hands up and saying, this is non-binary.
This is nuanced, it's gonna be case by case all the time forever. And I am saying that, um, and I'm, I'm not gonna give you answers because I don't know your situation. Um, and because I'm gonna do you one better. I'm not going to give you an answer. I'm going to give you a tool. A tool that will help you to decide for yourself when you should work for free and or a discounted rate and when you shouldn't. So here we go. Sharing a tool that I have found useful. It is not the golden rule, it is not always my everything, but it is a great starting point. A great gift from Cat Burns herself. Actually cat introduced me to this concept of three P's, Passion, prestige, and pay. These are three reasons, three values rather, that might lead you to take on work. Number one, passion.
Being very passionate about the type of work or the cause. Uh, number two, prestige of the project itself or the affiliates. Like maybe it's a big, big movie studio that's making it. Maybe maybe people working on it are all people that you've always wanted to work with or close to someone you've wanted to work with. And you see this as a step in the right direction, blah, blah. And of course the third, the easy one. Pay <laugh>. You might take on a job that you aren't passionate about. That doesn't bring you much clout simply because the money is great. Listen, it happens all the time. No shame, passion, prestige and pay. Now you could take on a job for any one of those three reasons, but what if you held yourself to a two-thirds rule? What if in order to be on board the project needed to be at least two out of those three or even all three Hell <laugh>.
That makes untangling the whole do I do it or do I don't do it Decision a lot easier, but I have a two outta three rule myself. I also love the idea of introducing more values to the picture because we know that passion, prestige and pay aren't the only important things. It all comes back to values, right? So could you build your own three or could you add your own values to those three P's, Here are some other values that might get your, your wheels turning. Some people value community or upholding the community, upholding industry standards. Some people value curiosity, others experience. Maybe it's training just straight up learning. Maybe you value filling skill gaps or maybe you value an audience. That's where good buddy exposure comes in because a lot of people do value having an audience. Now take a second and think about your values.
What are the boxes and how many need to be checked for you to take on a job? Pause here if you need more time. Now I'm gonna tell you I have four. I love passion, pay, prestige and community. Yes, community is important to me. <laugh>, shocker. Here I am in my podcast, uh, which is like oddly solitary and communal all at the same time. Anyways, I'll talk you through it. Yes, I will take the job if the rate is low or if the rate is no, but the project nurtures unsung heroes of the community or plants to see for future generations if the material is something I'm passionate about. And if the team is dreamy, that's it. I mean, that would be a yes for me. Call me crazy, but this rule helps me a lot. For me, if a project doesn't satisfy three out of those four values saying no to it feels a lot like saying yes to something else, something important.
Now, I won't tell you that you should value upholding industry standards. Just like I won't tell you that you should value spending time with your family. Like it really does seem like a no-brainer to some people. To me upholding industry standards is like duh. Yeah, just like enjoy spending time with your family. Duh. Yeah, but let's be real. Some people really don't enjoy their family. And for me to say that you should all of you all the time, that just feels so twisted. There are other things going on out there in the world and I've learned sometimes the hard way that you cannot make people care about something that they don't care about. So the best I can offer you today on this topic of work and value is to know what you care about. Decide on your guiding values and decide on how many of them need to be satisfied by your work, uh, or by the project in order for you to get on board.
If, if money or financial security is at the tip, tip top of your list, then perhaps your golden guiding rule to yourself is that the money box is always checked. If there are others, then bonus, great. But you know, maybe, maybe that is how you want to proceed in this decision making for yourself. If compensation is not at all important to you, then number one, you're probably not listening to this episode. And number two, if you are work, enjoy deciding where you put your time and talent based on other factors, that is awesome. Uh, period. Yes, <laugh>, my gosh, you guys, I am going, um, a hundred miles an hour. Now I know I've spent this whole episode saying that working for free or severely discounted rates isn't good or bad, but I do wanna close by telling you when working for free or a seriously discounted rate really, really is bad.
Look at me contradicting myself. <laugh> working for free is really bad. If you think it is. If an unpaid or poorly compensated project doesn't line up with your values and you think this is bad, I shouldn't do it. I don't want to do this. And you do it anyways, you're likely to find yourself feeling resentful, conflicted, angry, so on and so forth. And when you feel those feelings, when you feel that way on a job, it shows up in your actions, shows up in your behavior, usually in the form of inaction, right? Like being disengaged. Maybe you're gossipy, maybe you're bitchy, maybe you're late. Maybe you're giving partial effort and this is not the professional person that you want to become. I don't think <laugh>. So my final thought is this. If you're interested in being a professional, act like one, that doesn't mean you have to charge like one, but act like one.
Start by deciding that you are valuable and deciding what your key values are. Try committing to a rule like the two out of three rule or a three outta four rule and see how that works for you. I am a huge advocate of rewriting the starving artist story. I believe that you should request as much as you can possibly get, and I hope that you get it. I hope that this tool empowers you to do so. I hope it also allows you some freedom in your creative life. I'm so curious to hear what you think about this. Please, please, pretty please, please, pretty please keep reaching out on Instagram and on TikTok because once again, yep, we're there. I love hearing from you. I so hope you win tickets to the World Choreography Awards next week because I would love to see you there. Be sure to subscribe or that's not how it goes.
Be sure to follow us on TikTok. We'll be choosing our winners at random and announcing them on the 14th. I am so, so excited to see you who wins the contest. Hope to see you all soon and you'll be hearing from me next week. I have a really interesting topic for next week actually. Um, it's in the works. It's gonna require a bit of research, but please tune back in. Please get out there in the world, keep it very funky and I will talk to you soon.
Outro: This podcast was produced by me with the help of many music by Max Winnie, logo and brand design by Bree Reetz, and big thanks to Riley Higgins, our executive assistant and editor also massive, thanks to you. The mover, who is no stranger to taking action. So go take action.
I will not cannot stop you from downloading episodes or leaving a review into rating. I will not ban you from my online store for spending your hard earned money on the cool merch and awesome programs that await you. There. I will. 100% not stop you from visiting wordsthatmoveme.com. If you wanna talk with me, work with me and make moves with the rest of the words that move me community. Oh, and also I will not stop you from visiting thedanawilson.com. If you're curious about all the things that I do that are not words that move me related. all right, my friend, keep it funky. I'll talk to you soon.