I had coffee with a friend of mine -- not pictured above -- a few months ago who happens to be a very successful, highly-sought-after professional speaker.
At one point during our conversation, I asked him if he ever spoke for free. He immediately laughed and exclaimed, "F*ck no!"
(He then elaborated by saying, "I'll sometimes do it for good friends, or for charities... but that's it.")
His stance makes a lot of sense to me; as the Joker wisely said in The Dark Knight, "if you're good at something, never do it for free."
But payment can come in many different forms.
Most of you will head off to work today, where you'll trade your time and talent for money. If you're very lucky, you love your work... but we all have bills to pay.
What if you were asked to spend some time mentoring a young professional who's looking for career advice... what should you charge then? In this case, I hope the payment you're willing to accept might simply be the feeling you get knowing you were able to help someone else, who is likely to pay it forward.
Last week, I traded my time for "potential" when I agreed to be a keynote speaker at an eCommerce summit hosted by a Fortune 100 company. It was an unpaid opportunity for a company that could very much afford my usual rates... but I decided the opportunity to meet, impress, and network with a room full of Canadian retail executives could be highly beneficial to me in the future. It wasn't monetary payment, but I decided it was worth my time.
Every opportunity is going to be different. The key is understanding what each opportunity is worth to you, and what form of "compensation" is appropriate for the work you'll need to do.
Be intentional about how you spend your time and effort.
And don't be afraid to say no when you decide you have better things to do.