Giving Back to the Land Profession

I think giving back is a very important topic, I generally try to encourage people to do acts or donations to give back during the year.  Today, i’m going to approach it from a different angle, I’d like to talk about giving back to our own land community.  “Giving back” is kind of a silly phrase, because it doesn’t really tell you what I’m talking about.  If I ask five peoples opinions, I’m sure I’ll get five completely different answers.  What my opinion of giving back is what I’m going to talk about today, and everyone else can write their own blogs about their own opinions (or better, leave a comment!).  In the past I’ve made lists of things that I think people should do in various situations (like job hunting), but I realize now that listing things doesn’t really teach people to ‘fish’ for themselves.  So, I’m going to start with the ‘rules’ that I think “giving back” should follow (and then I can’t stop myself from making suggestions):


  1. It should be an actual act, not a gift of money.
  2. It should help one or more individuals in the land profession.
  3. It should not be self serving.
  4. A time commitment should be undertaken that is commensurate with your skills, position, and abilities.
  5. Get outside of your own circle.

It should be an actual act, not a gift of money:

Since I’m not talking about giving to the Red Cross or March of Dimes, I think that there are very limited ways that you can ‘give back’ with a gift of money.  You should do something that directly helps another person.  The things you can do are boundless; mentor a less experienced colleague, volunteer on a committee, help someone write a resume, write a guest blog for a landman blog site. <grin>  This doesn’t mean that you can’t spend money, but it should have a component of an actual thing that you are doing.  The exception I see to this rule is when you are in such a position as to sponsor industry events, but even that has a direct physical component.

It should help one or more individuals in the land profession:

I touched on this above, but let’s be explicit, I’m talking about helping people that are in our business.  However, it doesn’t have to be something that directly helps a particular person.  I try to take 5-10 hours a month to write blogs for this website, I like to think that it helps at least one or more people.  Many of those people that find my articles useful are in the land portion of the oil and gas industry.  I don’t have too much to say on this point, I just wanted to make sure it was understood who the target audience is.

It should not be self serving:

Let’s face it, we are all motivated to do things to help ourselves.  It is difficult to even find things that one is interested in doing that aren’t at least a little bit self-serving.  However, you should be endeavoring to do things that are more helpful to others than they are self-serving.  We are all guilty of convincing ourselves that we are doing something out of the goodness of our heart, but we also realize that it may/might/will directly benefit us at some point.  I know that this makes the world go’round, but I also think we can do better.  My goal this year has been to go out to lunch at least once a week with a colleague I don’t often see.  I intentionally make sure that I’m not always inviting people that might be able to help me one day; I go out to lunch with new employees, college grads that are breaking into our industry, and entrepreneurs that are trying to make a name for themselves.  If you keep the concept of “how can this person help me” out of your mind, you will reap dividends

A time commitment should be undertaken that is commensurate with your skills, position, and abilities:

This is the biggie.  What do I mean by “commensurate with your” blah blah blah?  In my experience as people progress in their career and have more responsibility, make more money, have more experience, and get more opportunities their willingness/ability to do the above things takes an inverse slide.  With all these things comes less time to yourself, it’s just a fact.  However, you should be setting aside a portion of time monthly for these activities, and that portion of time should increase as the rest of your career does.  Make time.  Many people tell their employers, “I do “x” every month and it requires that I be gone every 3rd Tuesday from 12-3″ or something of that sort.  You can do the same.  I promise that if it is something that is a genuine service to others in our business that no-one will complain.

Get out of your comfort zoneGet outside of your own circle:

I touched on this earlier, but it bears repeating.  All this doesn’t count if it is social time for you and your buddies.  If you join a committee, make sure you aren’t just going to chat with you friends on the committee.  Do it for the right reason, meet new people, get involved.  Before, I talked about how commitment tends to wane as ones climbs the career ladder.  I’ve noticed that the tendency entrench yourself with your social group often travels in lock-step with your career.  Don’t be that guy.  Keep a solid ratio of things you do that will benefit people you know vs. people you don’t.  I’m not advocating that you shouldn’t help people you know, quite the opposite… but make sure you don’t fall into the trap of the ‘cool kids group’.

I’m sure we all see ourselves in some of these points, and I hope it gives most of you some inspiration to do good things.  Helping others is the fastest way to helping ourselves, but you can’t shortcut the process by trying to divine which acts will ultimately help you.  We’ve all heard the quote that goes something like “If a butterfly flaps its wings on one side of the world it could a tsunami on the other.”  The point I take away from it isn’t the tsunami, but that you can never pinpoint the actual butterfly, or which flap set it off.  Our actions, or lack thereof, influence a great many things, make them count. 

Randy Young

Randy Young

Randy is a land consultant with experience in field and in-house land work, land administration, and software consulting with systems used in the land management business. He is an active member of the AAPL, HAPL, and NHAPL and is a regular attendee of industry functions.

Randy’s latest projects have included land data systems integrations, with a focus on Quorum Land System.