I don’t do Proprietary.

Or close to the vest.

At least not for my own stuff.

In 15 minutes I am meeting a friend about a business he will be launching in a few weeks to give him feedback, and I will keep that on the DL. I mean, I am not the best at secrets, but I will not spill his beans.

This morning I had a great 2 hour meeting with a friend (now business partner) about a project that is in its INFANCY. So young that it is logo-less, owns a single numbers spreadsheet, and not ONE of you has been requested to LIKE its Facebook page. In this case, I don’t plan to talk about it until I can champion it well. It needs to be a little more fully formed. My lack of sharing has nothing to do with its proprietary nature however. After two hours of meeting where we agreed on financial terms, general corporate structure and where to go for lunch our first partnership sticking point was about this subject.


Seated across the table from one another while I sadly learned that I did not like Hoisin sauce she summed up with a satisfied tone: “So this will be proprietary for now, right?” Without thought I responded “I don’t do proprietary.” She backpedaled. “I guess I mean close to the vest.” “Nope.” Not that either.” Ummmm. It was an unexpected first divergence in opinion. “I mean, whats the risk? I asked her? That someone else will take the idea? I mean I guess it is possible, but it hinges on curated content, our personal knowledge and style.” The risk seems small. Present but small. This is never going to be a blockbuster, more a great opportunity to promote what we love and work with people that inspire us.

I mean, I understand that some things are private. I know that privacy exists ( although less and less with blogging, social networking etc.) Some of my closest friends keep secrets.  But more than anything I love to share. The opportunity that arises from sharing, getting feedback, creating collaboration seems to outweigh the risks.

About a month after I launched Marble Jar an eerily similar app emerged in the app store “marble Jar rewards.”  I was at a tweet up the morning I discovered it. My comrades rallied around in animated fury. “Who produced it?” “was it someone who saw your comps?” “Are you going to go to the press with this?”

Honestly, I still don’t know who built the app.

I never took the time to click on the button “about this developer.” It doesn’t feel like thievery to me. I know that this happens. Actual, real theft. Of physical items, ideas, design, branding.  The risk is always there, and we just assume it in our life. I want to live assuming the best in my partners and friends and cleaning up the messes if possible and necessary later. In my view the mental, legal, and financial effort that it takes to try to protect everything we create becomes a barrier to creation. My marble jar app is better than theirs. And if it wasn’t, my negative feeling would be about my own development, rather than the fact that we both developed the same product.

I’ll sign your NDA. But I won’t write my own. I choose to share. It helps me create things.

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Anna Palmer

Anna Rosenblum Palmer is a freelance writer based in Denver, CO. She writes about sex, parenting, cat pee, bi-polar disorder and the NFL; all things inextricably intertwined with her mental health. In her free time she teaches her boys creative swear words, seeks the last missing puzzle piece and thinks deeply about how she is not exercising. Her writing can be found on Babble, Parent.co, Great Moments in Parenting, Ravishly, Good Men Project, Sammiches and Psych Meds, Playpen, Crazy Good Parent, and YourTango. She also does a fair amount of navel gazing on her own blog at annarosenblumpalmer.com.

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