A couple of weeks ago, I had some extra free time. Instead of vegging out watching tv or randomly surfing the internet, I decided to put my talents out to the world to see who needed help, for free. I decided I would accept any request, as long as it was in my power to help out. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but was excited to see what would happen. I posted on my blog, twitter and facebook and watched as the requests rolled in.
My week of helping people was a blast. I met people I otherwise wouldn’t have and reconnected with people I’d lost touch with. I learned about industries and ideas that made me think and got closer with people who had previously been only business associates. Over the course of seven days, I helped 20 people with tasks ranging from helping startups, moving desks out of a basement, cleaning a garage, chopping down trees, going grocery shopping and critiquing websites.
Most people asked for help evaluating a startup idea, followed by asking for advice on how to run an intern program. Of the 20 people I helped, I’d never met five of them and hadn’t talked to three within the last year. Multiple people told me they’d been interested in asking for my help before, but either never got around to doing it or did not want to impose.
I thought it was interesting that only two close friends asked me for help and my Mom was my only family member who accepted my offer. The rest were people I knew, but was not close with or did not know at all. Two months ago, my friend Andy posted the exact same offer to his close friends ad family and only one friend and one family member took him up on his offer. I think it’s interesting that we seem to be willing to ask people we don’t know as well for help, but not our closest friends. I enjoyed myself so much that I’m going to start doing a monthly “day of help” where I’ll do whatever anyone needs during my normal work day.
I truly believe people want to help each other, but most people are too timid to ask. Think about this: If you received an email from someone asking you to help them with a problem you had experience with, would you help them? I think for most people, the answer is yes, of course they would. But people don’t take the next step and actually ask for help very often because they fear people won’t be willing to help. I think more people should. What do you think?