Sharing the sweets

At a couple of the events I’ve been to where Dan Slee has been allowed to have the floor for even a minute, he’s deployed and espoused a philosophy of “Sharing the Sweets” which I think is astounding in its simplicity.

Share the Sweets.

Why don’t we do that more often?

More recently, I went to a training session on an important but deadly boring aspect of the job I was doing then. I nearly fell asleep. Nobody was trying to pretend that this task was fun, but there wasn’t even a hint of optimism. The delivery was dry and dead, and frankly, lunch had been rather fine. I needed a nap.

Not so if you listen to someone sharing the sweets. They’re on a mission to give you secrets to the good stuff. Sweets aren’t bad (except in the tooth-rotting, E-number laden hyperactivity-inducing way) for you, they’re good and desirable. This is what you want. Evangelical training. Spreading the good news about whatever the topic is.

New VAT protocols in foreign countries? Don’t look down in the mouth and say “It’s really hard.” Smile and crack a joke about juggling soot blindfolded. Then you dig in and show people the positives of what they need to know to get the job done and which pages of the leviathan guidelines folder are the most useful and need marking with Post-Its.

Sharing the sweets means being an ambassador with a very large pile of spherical chocolates and infinite patience. It means preaching the good news of the stuff you have to those who need it, and letting them have it for free. Doctor Who in one of his previous incarnations had a bag of jelly babies in his pocket. I recall that it was a very effective distraction and social ice breaker. Only in the UK could a national hero use jelly babies to befriend the good guys and defeat the bad ones. Sharing the sweets on a galactic level!

I digress. I shall digress further for a moment.

I was once invited in the street to take a personality test (I passed – I have a personality), and a nice young man in a rented office in Birmingham City Centre gave me a pencil, left me to complete it, took me through the results and explained that his religious organisation could help me overcome my faults and imbalances. All I needed to do was come along to a further meeting and buy some relatively inexpensive explanatory pamphlets. If the news is that good, brother, give it away! Share the sweets.

It’s very easy if you have real sweets. Leave a box of Thorntons unguarded in the staff kitchen with a note on saying “Thanks for your help” and they will disappear. It’s less easy to share things that people don’t recognise. More important in that case to live the example and show the difference. I enjoy showing people the feed I have on Twitter. I’m careful to explain some of the ups and downs, but the folks I choose to follow are generally a lovely bunch. It’s a great advert for what it can offer. All of a sudden, I’m not preaching but living the good news.

And here’s where I run into a significant problem. What is the value of information? I’m reluctant to divulge my personal details to Facebook for a start, so there must be some value in them. How about the value of my experiences? Should I try to make some money out of sharing the sweets? Or just put it all up on my blog for free so those with the requisite Google-fu can find it instead of letting a consultant in a tailored suit give them the same stuff for a very reasonable hourly rate plus expenses? How do you finance sharing the sweets? How do you finance yourself while the sharing is happening? What if someone takes your sweets then sells them on at a profit?

OK, there are limits. I’m not suggesting anyone bankrupts themselves or makes their post redundant by transferring all their role or value to others, but I am saying this – if something is that good you’re grateful you know about it, you should definitely share it with people who could do with knowing, and if you have someone asking the right questions, go right ahead and evangelise. Jelly babies entirely optional.


If you are in Walsall on the morning of Saturday April 20th, we will be sharing Social Media sweets in Starbucks (Crown Wharf) from about half nine for a couple of hours. It’s the Walsall Social Media Surgery, it’s free, and it’s for non profit orgs, volunteers, interested individuals and other folks who don’t make money. Frankly, if you’re a business, you can afford your own sweets, no offence. Come down, buy a coffee (or one of a selection of teas) and join in.


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