My Evergrowing List of Collab Red Flags
Okay, hear me out. COLLABORATION is one of the best business inventions since the photocopier.
Seriously! Shared ideas, shared resources, increased productivity, and decreased stress is a recipe for success for any busy professional!
Well, most of the time. Like everything else in life, there are good collaborations and there are bad collaborations. Lucky for you, I've experienced both and everything in between so you won't have to.
Ladies and gents, I present to you my evergrowing list of collab red flags. SPOILER: You can figure them out by what they say.
"FINE. WHATEVER." I'm gonna go ahead and call this one The Bad Vibe. If a new team mate gives the first impression of someone who's not into teamwork, believe them. Maybe they're used to operating alone. Maybe they're socially awkward. Maybe they have trust issues. Maybe they just entered this collab because there was no other choice. Listen, I can respect those. But if they're coming off indifferent or aloof even, that immediately tells me that communication is going to be hard on this one --which sucks because, as we all know, communication is key to any project that involves more than one member.
In this case, you can choose to make the new guy feel comfortable working with you and everyone else. Make them feel welcome and safe. Just note that there is a limited number of tries to this extra effort. If it's not working, sorry... it's not working.
"ME, ME, ME!" This is The Hog. Because they hog everything. This collaborator assembled a squad so they can practically boss around amazing people and take all the credit for everyone's hard work. Nah. What you got yourself into isn't a collaboration. That's a salt mine led by a tyrannical narcissist. The scary part is that The Hog can be a smooth talker, too. That's how they manage to convince people to get together and work for their personal gain. But if you're sharp, you can smell the imbalance 2 meetings in. Remember a collaboration is a team effort. Everyone brings something to the table.
My suggestion? Bail out.
"BUT I DON'T WANNA!" There's always one in a group, isn't there? The Whiner, a close cousin of The Bad Vibe, is a worker that needs to be disciplined by their employer. I mean, when someone complains about everything and not lift a finger to do anything --that's a behavioral problem. And when that behavior gets on everyone's nerves and slows the project down, then what?
The best way to deal with this particular red flag is to bring this up with a higher authority. It's not your job to discipline a grown person who's acting like a brat. But what if that person does not have a boss and is actually working independently? Precariously, I might add? Well, get the group together. Maybe it's time for all of you to kick some sense into this person. Or maybe it's time to kick them out. Whatever works.
"IT'S NOT ME! IT'S YOU!" Oh, my God! The Blabber/Blamer/Backstabber is the worst! After the first meeting, rest assured that they'll be bad-mouthing one or two members of the newly-assembled crew to everybody at the bar by night time. Just like The Narcissist, The Blabber/Blamer/Backstabber will try and make themselves look better than everyone else. What makes them doubly awful is that they'll raise themselves up by pushing you down. This person will be the perfect team player in your presence though. The whole backstabbing action, of course, happens as soon as you turn your back. When something goes wrong with the project, even the tiniest mistake, be alert. It will most probably be your fault --thanks to the press release courtesy of The Blabber/Blamer/Backstabber.
This kind of red flag is gifted with the power of sneakiness. You could be in too deep in the project before they rear their evil head. All I can say is fight for the truth, finish the project, learn from it, and ban that muvverfugger from the rest of your career. Warning others about them is optional, but preferred. Two can play at that game.
"I'M SO HAPPY YOU'RE SO POPULAR!" When a new team player bursts into the scene pining for me like a long-lost lover or a sick puppy, I would be flattered --and guarded, too. Don't get me wrong. It's great to have fans. But you have to read into the obsession. Are they giving you all the love and attention because they don't have anything else to give the collab? When they say, "I think you should do everything because you're the smartest, bestest partner ever!", is that still a Give-and-Take dynamic? Sounds like an All-Take situation to me, but sugarcoated so you'll have to agree. You know what they're called? The User. The User piggybacks on your passion, drive, and popularity so they won't have to lift a finger... except to throw rose petals at your feet.
The only thing you can do here is to not play into it. Don't fall for all the praises no matter how sweet and buttery they are. Don't allow yourself to be used.
"..." Did you hear that? Probably not. The Ghost is the kind of team mate who sits at the very far end of the conference room giving zero input. Oh, that's okay. Maybe they're more of a doer than a thinker. That still makes a valuable team player, right? Yes. But what if they don't make a sound even when you need them the most? Say, the deadline is creeping in and The Ghost won't pick up the phone. Emergency meeting and they're nowhere to be found. You have inputs on their work, and they disappear. I don't want to say this but... you've been ghosted!
Being an absent team player is not cool nor is it pro. Unfortunately, you can only see these lapses as they happen in the course of the project. Again, get everyone together. Try talking The Ghost into getting his act together. Or, replace them. That simple.
Now, for the pure heck of it, I'm adding a list of Noteworthy Good and Bad Collab Case Studies here. Who knows? We might just learn from them.
GOPRO x RED BULL. GoPro rightfully earned its title as 'The world's most versatile action camera' in the early 2000s. Action, you say? Kinda like the action you prepare for with legendary energy drink, Red Bull? Oh, yes! The GoPro and Red Bull business partnership fit like a glove. The crossover was seamless and quite honestly, just destiny. Red Bull's brand had a step-up with GoPro's tech as it ensured every Red Bull drinker the most breathtaking adventure pictures. On the other hand, GoPro broadened its target base, thanks to Red Bull's star power, global reach, and marketing expertise.
GOPRO x DJI. GoPro didn't have the same luck when it partnered with drone specialist, DJI, though. Their joint drone project figuratively and literally crashed. And, instead of picking things up from there, GoPro decided to make its own drone while DJI made its own action camera. Both companies are now competing head to head. Well, no --since drones aren't really GoPro's wheelhouse.
BANKSY x DISMALAND. In the art world, famous yet mysterious socio-political street artist, Banksy made the biggest collab putting up the first ever bemusement park, Dismaland. It was a project that involved 58 other artists --all of whom created massive art pieces that reflected the ills of capitalism and, uhm, Disney dread. The project was outrageous as it was relevant. Banksy made bank. On the theme park's last day of opening, the art installations were dismantled so that they can be repurposed as shelters for immigrants. How solid is that!
BANKSY x BNE. On the flipside, there was a messy collab attached to Banksy's name. Supposedly, it was a t-shirt merch partnership with another graffiti artist who goes by the name, BNE. BNE announced the said collab with much fanfare only to be denied by Banksy. Apparently, while an invitation to partner up did happen, Banksy never replied to the email. The shirt launch was a scam that quickly blew up into a scandal. The shirt is still up for sale on ebay though --probably as a memento of what could have been.
STRAY KID x LIL DURK. Last case study, Stray Kids. Since blowing up globally, this Kpop boy group has been on top of a lot of music artist's collaboration wish list. Lil Durk shot his shot by inviting Stray Kids for a remix of his big hit, All My Life. What made this joint project a resounding success? Research. Lil Durk found out about Stray Kids' survival show background and their grueling journey in the cutthroat entertainment industry. All My Life was literally their anthem! Lil Durk gave these young men ample space to be creative in the song, catapulting the song back to chart topper status. Okay, the fact that Stray Kids has a gazillion loyal fans helped, too.
STRAY KIDS x TROYE SIVAN. Unfortunately, shooting one's shot didn't quite work out with Troye Sivan. He invited female rapper, PinkPantheress and Stray Kids member, Hyunjin to take part in a remix of his hit song, Rush. PinkPantheress was an absolute queen with her rap verse. Meanwhile, Hyunjin --whose group was right in the middle of a world tour-- only had time to record 8 seconds of the song. Yes. 8 seconds. It wasn't really a flop because, as mentioned, Stray Kids has a gazillion loyal fans. But it could have been better.
Alright! Hope this list gives you the guidance to tread the bumpy roads of business partnerships well. COLLABORATION IS AN EXCELLENT THING. Besides, if it doesn't grow you professionally, it most certainly would personally.