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This Week’s #PostChat: Lending Your Talents for the Greater Good

By Randi Altman

Welcome to our weekly check-in with PostChat, the regular Twitter conversation that takes on the post world. This week’s topic was “Editing for the greater good — cutting pro-bono work or helping work on friends’ projects.”

PostChat founder Jesse Averna (@Dr0id), an editor for Sesame Workshop’s Sesame Street, usually finds himself lending his talents to friends or non-profits a couple of times a quarter.

One of the draws: stepping into a project that is different than his day job. “These type of jobs are usually so drastically different from my day job that it’s refreshing to workout a different cluster of grey matter. It’s also gratifying to pour myself into something with nothing more than the intent to help. It’s a nice dose of perspective… and to know that my skill-set can possibly make a difference.”

In terms of helping friends, Averna strongly believes in the barter system. “If a friend needs to use your abilities, it’s not only an opportunity to help that friend, but also, possibly, trade your services for theirs. Filmmaking is an expensive business,” he says. “A favor can go a long way and can sometimes be worth more than the money you might make.”

Plus, he finds it fun to work with friends. “It’s usually a passion project that would require you to volunteer for a friend. So, that’s almost always a blast to be a part of. Their passion spills over and motivates your work.”

But there is also a delicate balance to lending a hand to a friend. Setting limits and expectations, even within yourself, so the friendship doesn’t suffer. “I tend to always push myself too far, to be honest,” says Averna. “I want to deliver something that meets the client’/friend’s hopes as closely as it can. This is usually to my detriment. I feel the weight of this thing living beyond my involvement with it, and that motivates me to go as far as it requires. So, yeah, I’m not great with balance, but I’m learning. The biggest key is to be honest about your time and commitment up front. There is nothing worse, or more straining on a friendship, than committing yourself and not being able to deliver.”

There are also times when lending your talents to a project isn’t about money or advancing your resume, or any other personal gain. “Sometimes it’s just about giving. If you are able to use your talents and passions to benefit someone else without the expectation of receiving, there is nothing more rewarding.”

There are so many companies and non-profits trying to make a difference in the world. Averna suggests finding a non-profit that speaks to you and encourages you to reach out to them and see if they can use your help. He points to http://www.idealist.org as a great place to start.

As always, follow #PostChat on Wednesday evenings at 9pmEST and join in the conversation.


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