Since I started offering proprietary documents I created upon request to fellow industry professionals, I have been receiving unprecedented feedback (and all positive!). Clearly, the decision to share my knowledge and experience with proprietary documentation has hit a positive note with our community. I imagine that many are wondering why I would offer documents that I spent a great deal of time developing, based on years of experience, and at no charge.
The answer is that it is all about “balance.” That’s right, being balanced (be sure to watch for my upcoming column, titled “Are You Balanced?”) [Editor’s note: The future is here! Click here to read “Are You Balanced?” from the December 2015 issue of Sound & Communications.]
First of all, I believe that “information” today is so readily available that other factors will determine your success. These include quality of work, customer service, developing ongoing relationships with clients and warranties/repair, which will set the successful businesses apart from others. In other words, the days of the “secret sauce” are over. If I did not supply these documents, I am sure that a simple Google (or similar) search would turn up something similar.
For example, several years ago, I decided to connect a computer to my TV in the Family Room so we could do educational activities such as flash cards, word games, etc., with the kids, using what is probably the last of the large rear-projection monsters: a 55-inch screen with no PC connection. It has one HDMI input, and does 1080i, 720p. I have an older PC with a video card with DVI-I and VGA, so I thought this was going to be a cakewalk: a DVI to HDMI cable, breakout the audio into the digital audio input, and voila…boy was I wrong.
I turned on the TV, brought up the PC, adjusted the resolution on the PC and the TV froze, the remote would not work, even after unplugging it, reconnecting, etc. The manual indicated that there was a manual reset using a paper clip, but the TV would not recover from connecting my PC to the TV! I knew that this would mean $350 just for a service call. So, like many of us who like to do things ourselves, I went to Google, and tried to describe the problem I was having.
This is no easy task because you get a million hits. After scouring though link after link, I found instructions from a technician describing exactly what to do: After you reset the TV, using the remote, you have to enter a reset code. It worked; the TV was reset and works to this day (I disconnected the PC DVI output and went analog. I put a scaler between the PC and TV that converts VGA into HDMI, embedded the audio, and set it to 1080i).
It was described as a master service reset that only technicians should have access to because of other changes that can be made once you are in that mode, and I can understand that…but I just saved probably $500!
OK, that was cool, but it was this second situation that turned the tide for me. Two years ago on a hot summer day, my wife let me know that the fan in the mini van was not working. This is definitely something you need operating, especially with little kids! So, I of course checked to see if it was something else that was not working. I called the dealer to get an idea of the cost of replacing the fan. The quote was scary, so I Googled “front fan not working in….” Again, another million links but I found one describing that you have to determine if it is the fan or a hidden relay. It described how to remove the glove box, some other parts and you then run a wire temporarily from your battery to a specific terminal. I followed the directions and the fan came on (and a smile on my face). I installed the $30 relay and it’s been working ever since.
Just think how easy that was: total time invested, about two hours. If I needed this information 20 years ago for either of these repairs, what do you think would be the likelihood I would have found this information? Coming from a time when there were no computers, and watching their acceptance into business, and then society in general, I have to say, computers interfacing with humans have clearly, in many ways, improved our lives.
I can not tell you how thankful I am that professionals, albeit from other industries, have spent the time and effort to share their knowledge and experiences so others can benefit—and for free!
I come from New York, a very tough place to conduct business and, frankly, I was not from the school of sharing secrets and techniques that set me apart from the other integrators, or anyone else, for that matter. These personal experiences have humbled me, and made me open my eyes to the changing world we live in, and I want to be a part of it. So, in order to have “balance” in my life, I have to give back. It’s not right to just suck up all the information that is out there and not share your knowledge as well, is it?
I know this is a touchy subject for many, and I don’t want to be “preachy.” However, every one of us in this industry has developed or created “techniques,” “documents” and “procedures” for our companies’ benefit. So I am asking, have you shared your knowledge with others; would you?
We would like to hear back on this topic. Send me examples of what you have shared (or would like to share). In an upcoming issue, we will highlight one of the responses and detail how you have given back to the industry (and the world!). Please send your examples and any other comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.