Chris Craig's Blog

Should You Cloister Your Valuable Ideas From Your Competitors…

Cloister at Salisbury Cathedral Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Cloister at Salisbury Cathedral Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary

This week I’m writing about a subject on which I have mixed feelings.    I am a huge fan creating cultures  built around sharing.   For example,  I love the idea of a communal garden-tiller or log-splitter.   What is the point of me owning something I use  once or twice a year, unless I can share the cost of it.   I know some lawyers around the country who are creating easy- to- understand- and- use agreements for community- use products.   This is a very cool development, I think. I am also a big fan of giving away information. A lot of folks just need brief &/or minor coaching to solve very large difficulties in their lives.   Certain very brief conversations have taught me big lessons.  I put a lot of value on easy-and-effective lifehacks, and I’ve been known to give free advice when its easy…and when asked.

Sometimes, however, proprietary ideas and information must remain private.  Just this week, I have been discussing a secret project with a crew of innovative, creative folks here in Asheville. The concepts must remain in cloister until a product is created from them.  Just the sort of thing that could command a nondisclosure agreement.  But.  Not every idea  warrants protection.   Some ideas are harmed when they are overly protected.

Eric Ries, author of The Lean Startup, suggests that nondisclosure agreement should be used only where absolutely necessary.  Over-protective idea-misers can sometimes stymie the growth of innovation.  Some ideas are better shared than hoarded.   Predicting that you might not be convinced of this, Ries suggest you call some companies, offer good ideas to them, and just try to beg them to steal your intellectual property.   He says it’s harder than you might think.

I’m not trying to be flippant, and I advise against whatever  crazy  idea you might  considering right now.

But seriously,  should  you find yourself dealing with people who have the capacity to steal your ideas,  and if your ideas are worth stealing,  then protect your property.  The  trick is knowing the difference.    Have good legal advisors  in your corner who you know, who you trust, and who you like.  Below are some ideas.

After the break… I’ve sharing a chicken soup recipe I’ve been developing at the house… because —  well —  the weather bites…and I can.

Be Well!
–Chris


What You Should Know About Crafting Strong Non-Disclosure Agreements

The employment landscape has changed over the last few years and many small and mid-size companies today operate with outside help – contractors or freelancers who perform important tasks but who are not full time employees on your payroll, or even third party companies who consult on a new product or service. While companies that contract with these outside resources can gain access to top tier talent without having to increase headcount, there can be pitfalls to this approach in terms of properly protecting company secrets.  In many cases, non-disclosure agreements are the standard; here are some tips on crafting a smarter NDA: Be sure you own what you want to protect.  Founders of new ventures need to go back and review any non-disclosure agreements they may have signed with former employers to ensure any ideas brought to the new company cannot be claimed by someone else in your employment past.

Protect before sharing.  While it may be tempting to bounce a new idea off friends or colleagues outside the company, doing so can cause you to lose ownership of the idea if it is stolen before you’ve made a reasonable effort to protect it.  Having an NDA in place before you bring others into the fold can show this effort was made.

Be specific.  Your NDA should include a specific definition of the confidential information, the obligations of those signing it, any exclusions from confidential information, a specific time period that the NDA covers and other provisions like which state’s laws will govern the agreement and an attorney’s fee provision if the agreement is breached.

Get professional help.  While there are a number of NDA forms online, these boilerplate agreements will not necessarily provide the proper protections for your specific needs.  Consult with a small business attorney to draft standard NDAs for your company to cover employees, contractors and mutual relationships.

If you are interested in learning more about business protection strategies, call us today to schedule your comprehensive LIFT™ (legal, insurance, financial and tax) Foundation Audit.  Normally, this session is $1,250, but if you mention this article and we still have room on our calendar this month, we will waive that fee.


Chicken Soup —   because the weather sucks,  and this stuff will make you feel better!!

What You’ll Need:

  • 1  whole chicken —  for God’s sake, get something free range, hormone free, as humanely raised as possible.  get them to cut it up for you, so that this is easier to make (unless you’re less lazy in the kitchen than I am);
  •  Two big onions — cut up as fine as you want  them ( I like mine julienned (because I keep sharp knives and know how to use them);
  •  a leek —  cleaned and cut pretty small;
  •  a bunch of carrots —  cleaned and cut into quarter inch cubes;
  • a bunch of celery —  my  tend to dice my celery because I don’t like  the look  of little celery moons;
  • 3/4  head of parsley —  chopped fine;
  • some olive oil;
  •  some bay leaves;
  •  Chicken stock;
  •  Wild rice

I take the fat and skin off the chicken. Do what you want with that stuff. Leave it on if you like.  It makes the soup oilier than I like when I don’t get rid of it.  I know folks that put all kids of herbs in this sort of soup.  Suit yourself.

Now, my goal:  I  want this soup to be as easy as possible.  I usually feel like hell when I start thinking about making chicken soup, or I’ve got  kids in the house who feel like hell.  So I  want it to go quickly.

So I just throw the chicken parts in a soup pot with olive oil  in it, and I brown it lightly.  I then throw in everything but the wild rice, top it off with water, and then… And this is actually the most important part of the whole process… I let it just simmer lightly. It doesn’t seem to matter all that much how long you let it go. Just don’t let it boil heavily, or else you get this gnarly foam on top…and the  stock gets all cloudy.

After an hour or so,  I take the chicken out, let it cool a couple minutes so I don’t burn my fingers off, and then I pick the bones, shred the meat and throw in to the soup pot again.   At this point, I add salt and pepper to taste. You will likely end up adding more salt after you add the wild rice,  so be forewarned….

Toss in the wild rice. I purposely don’t  suggest a specific quantity; I ususally end up taking whatever bucket of the stuff I’ve got…and just throwing  most of it in.   I love wild rice that has gotten  slightly overcooked.

The Parsley goes in toward the end of the cooking.  It’ll get wilted quickly.

This soup ages gracefully.   I think it is even better the second day…with hot, fresh, buttered baguette.

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