I’m working on a leadership class that will meet twice monthly for 6 months. It is for entrepreneurs who have not had the same access that I have had to courses and materials that are costly and limited, and at times, by application only – aka, for people who are already in some ways well-connected. I am very energized by opening doors for people who want to improve themselves and have teamed up with a friend with a similar philosophy to offer the course for free.

Although not always the case, a slide presentation can aid in following the agenda and keeping on topic, so I chose PowerPoint as the tool I would use to guide us through the deep and complex concepts.

As I began to add new slides and some SmartArt, I noticed that PowerPoint was, apparently, watching my every move and seemed to think I would benefit from a bit of presentation jazz hands. On the right side of my screen a list of Design Suggestions magically appeared. They looked A LOT better than the plain text and drab bullet points I had assembled.

I reviewed them and took the suggestions and tried to improve my slides. Nope! The suggestions kept getting better and more interesting and included features I had not used. At first I felt like I was competing and losing – talk about Ego getting in the way! Then I began accepting the suggestions and mediocre began to look nicer than I could have produced.

As happened to me, I thought about how often we ask our people to reinvent something from scratch and how many best practice documents or processes we have somewhere but don’t make easy-to-find. I am sure we can do a better job sharing a variety of things. I get that it’s important to learn by doing, but I’m also sure we have all sorts of ‘design suggestions’ we can expose our team to, resulting in time savings, stress reduction and an improved final product.

In my opinion, the key to successfully sharing knowledge and experience is 1) wanting to, not letting your Ego encourage you to hide things, making you feel important and even better than those who need what you know; and 2) making sharing a part of the corporate culture – one where helping others is expected, supported and celebrated.

– Becky Sharpe, President & CEO