Originally published in the 2010 summer issue of the Minnesota Auctioneer magazine.

Pie has become a very easy metaphor for business success. Perhaps it was first used because of its perfect geometric shape with no corners or waste. Or it could possibly be the fact that someone named a very simple graph of percentage a “pie chart.” Then again, it could be that even as a child it was easy to see how much better a bigger piece of pie would be for dessert.

No matter the origin, I think it’s safe to assume that we all desire a bigger piece of the pie. Whether it be business production, return on investments, or even when considering what to have for dessert, we are all trying to score a bigger slice.

Not too long ago I had the opportunity to attend a workshop where my concept of pie was challenged in a new way. Nationally recognized speaker on leadership and motivation, Joe Calhoon, shared a different vision for success than I have ever heard before. Another way to have a bigger piece of pie is to take your piece from an even LARGER PIE.

It seemed so simple that I can’t believe I missed it. It was like the moment I saw the arrow in the FedEx logo hidden in the negative space between the E and the X. I have never been able to look at that logo the same ever since, and suddenly I was not able to look at business in the same way.

For years I have been very active in a variety of professional organizations that focus on education. I had always felt that the best way for me to serve my clients was continued education of techniques and best practices. However, in the past few years I have taken steps to move from the position of attendee, to that of the instructor. Originally, I spoke at conferences and events to increase my credibility as a professional. However, I soon found myself doing phone support and sharing new information with anyone who needed it. I had already embraced Joe Calhoon’s mantra. I knew that if I helped all of my peers and even competitors improve, our industries would be better and thus the entire pie would grow. I may only be getting 5% of the pie, but if the pie has grown to twice the size, I will have experienced record growth.

This type of shared knowledge is one of the greatest strengths of YouTube, Wikipedia, blogs, and even social media. So much of humanity’s experience is at our fingertips; the knowledge base is moving so fast that we should all consider our place in it. How can we each contribute to that knowledge base to help others and grow the collective pie?

So as I sign off, I want to take an opportunity to challenge everyone to become part of the collective knowledge we all share as professionals. I’ll be sure to bring the pie!