“If people make great music their whole lives, they have to be smart about knowing it’s at least partly because of the people working with them. Music starts in your mind, but it ends up always being a collaboration. There are too many sounds happening all at once for it to be only one person.”
-Brian Wilson

There’s a fellow you may have heard of named Neil Armstrong. He was the first guy to walk on the moon. An impressive feat to be sure, but it’s not like he built the spaceship and flew it himself. An entire nation was behind him.

Elton John has countless hit songs to his name. While Elton has an incredible gift for melody and composition, would his music have been as strong without those wonderful lyrics from his career-long writing partner Bernie Taupin?

I’ve never liked hearing successful people brag about how they did it all themselves. They almost make it sound like they were the guy planting that flag on Earth’s satellite. Whether it’s landing on the moon, or building a successful business, nobody does it on their own. They do it with the help of others. Sometimes in small ways. Sometimes in big ways. Sometimes in obvious ways, and sometimes in ways they’ll never realize. I like to think I’ve been fairly successful in what I’ve done. Some of it was through hard work, patience, and persistence, but a lot of it was because certain people believed in me or decided to take a chance on me and what I might be able to offer.

Some people seem to feel that in order to win, someone else must lose. In business, I occasionally encounter business people who can’t see potential collaborators. They only see competitors. Even people in businesses that are not in competition with theirs are somehow seen as a threat. I’ve even seen some go as far as denigrating people they see as a threat, either in person or to the public. If the only way you feel you can progress is at the expense of others, and not on your own merits, maybe you’re just not that good at what you do. Not only does this make you look petty, insecure, and unprofessional, you miss an opportunity to learn and grow.

It could be that some people are afraid of losing control. To me, this only reinforces the importance of collaboration. To collaborate, you need to build relationships. You need to build trust. If you trust the people you’re working with, and you have faith in their abilities, collaborating is easy.  It’s a great feeling knowing that you can give your work to someone and they will take it to a place where you can’t.

You learn a lot working with others. There’s no doubt that working with filmmakers, animators, marketers, artists, and other business people has made me a better producer and business person.

Working in the world of audio production and branding, some of what I do can stand on its own, but much of the time, audio is there to support something else. Voiceovers, sound design, jingles, often need other elements, usually visual ones, to reach their full potential.

I recently had the pleasure of collaborating with Make Hay Media and Morewood Design on some very exciting projects. Here’s one of them.

Make Hay Media produced the video, Morewood Design provided the animations, and my company did the post production audio and sound design. I’ve worked with these companies on many projects in the past, but this was the first time all three of us worked together, and I think we were all very happy with the results.

The final element of this collaboration was passing the finished product over to Queen’s University, who planned and executed a fantastic social media campaign. As I write this, this campaign has had well over 600,000 views and 1.6 million social media impressions.

It would be arrogant to think you can do it all on your own. The willingness to work hard and succeed starts with you, but getting there requires the help of others. Winning is not about other people losing. We all have gifts we can contribute. When those gifts come together, everybody wins. It’s not about glory. It’s not about ego. It’s about doing good work. Sometimes you can do it on your own, and sometimes you need help. This doesn’t make you less effective, skilled, or successful. When you collaborate with others, their success is your success, and your success is their success.

Note that the image above is actually of Buzz Aldrin, but it was taken by Neil Armstrong. Another great example of collaboration. Imagine how much lonelier a selfie would look on the moon.