When we moved almost 30 years ago, we were saddled with 2 house payments until the old place sold. I was dying to buy lots of new greenery, but our budget didn’t allow for it, so I was not shy about letting friends and customers know that I’d be happy to come to their homes and dig up and divide anything that they had in overabundance.
At that same time, my workplace, which sat at the end of a runway at Boeing Field, moved to Kent. King County, owner of the field at that time, decided we should move and that the building should come down. I didn’t care about the building, but the plants … I wanted them. Oh, how they could fill my empty yard! The Operations Manager said that I should go for it because everything would be bulldozed, so one Saturday we loaded up our shovels and gloves. The Operations Manager was there that day to clean up loose ends, and we chatted as we pried Azaleas from the ground. And then I spotted a car coming our way. A car with a light on top and a logo on the door. Well, hello!
We were breaking the law, the security guard told us. It was King County property, and the company that I worked for had no say in the distribution of the plants that sat on it. He looked in our packed trunk and let us go with what we had, but he did send a report to our Vice President, resulting in lots of ribbing about my new life of crime.
In business, we borrow all the time. Millions of businesses have existed before yours, and owners have long appropriated information from their past work experiences. Smart owners have mentors, people who have already successfully done what they’re now trying to do. They hire seasoned consultants. They read. They scour the internet. They listen. They talk to vendors. There’s a wealth of information all around us. Appropriate appropriation is, well, appropriate.
Our Azaleas are thriving, by the way. There are nine of them, including a monster so large that we refer to it as “Godzalea,” pictured here. Did we borrow, or steal? I think that if we were to be punished for our deed, they would have all died a long time ago.