What do you say to people who want to "pick your brain?"

Often, at least a few times/week, I have people ask me to host a Skype call with me to ask me about my expertise. I know this is why Clarity was built (and have pushed people to the platform) but what do you say to the person to not sound like a jerk? For context, I had someone blow up at me the other day who said that I should be "donating" my time.


My approach is simple. If it comes from a trusted referal, then I use my free Clarity VIP link and still conduct the call using Clarity. If it comes in cold, and there's no association to a cause, alumni or area of interest, then I just say "I'd love to talk, but I'm heads down with Clarity and other existing commitments - if it's truly urgent and requires my advice, I conduct all these request via Clarity here:"

That works well and sets the expectations.

Clay Hebert wrote a great post about that here:

Answered 10 years ago

In my experience "brain pickers" are generally looking for validation from someone they respect or that they consider to be experts. They aren't really interested in what YOU have to say unless it's what they were already thinking.

So I generally ask the large majority of questions such as "what can I help you with?" and then I follow that up with questions like "what have you found out so far... what conclusions have you come to?"

I think you'll find that they do most of the talking.

If it turns out that they truly want your assistance then move the conversation to a more formally structured one by setting up a coaching call. Any serious business person that values what you have to offer will certainly be willing to compensate you for your time.

In fact - that first conversation can be a good screening process to help you decide if you even want to take them on as a client. Anyone that is "insulted" or put off by the fact that you get paid for sharing your wisdom and expertise - things that can help them reach their goals - - is obviously someone that won't value what you have to share.

Best of luck!

Answered 10 years ago

I give them a link to set up a call via Clarity. Simple and easy for everyone. People are more than happy to pay me for their time, and know they will be getting my best. My website even expressly says that if you have just "one quick question" or would like to "pick my brain," then set up a Clarity call.

Answered 10 years ago

Guidance and mentor ship is a crucial leadership skill that we all need. My job relies heavily on operations and walking the talk. Meanwhile, my consultancy relies heavily on understanding what individuals are trying to achieve as end result and how can I contribute to their success. Personally, I found this practice quite useful and time saving.

If you are trying to pick my brain, I need some information from you.
-What is the subject and what are you trying to achieve?
-What is your current progress and what are your challenges/achievements?
-What other potentials ideas you have and how can we work together?

Having "above type" of information saves our time and also allows me to gather some information in advance. We will not spend our time trying to lay the ground work but move immediately towards brains storming session and working towards a positive outcome.

Answered 10 years ago

Question reminds me of this brilliance... (contains "inappropriate" language)

Answered 10 years ago

I'm with Dan. If it's someone who is introduced to me through a friend and is local, I'll gladly do coffee. Otherwise I tell them I am super busy and do any calls through Clarity, and then send them the link. If it's just an email, I take my time to reply.

Answered 10 years ago

I come across such requests a lot and I'm always surprised that how people don't realize that we as service providers, coaches, consultants, invest a lot of time and money to acquire the knowledge (reading books, attending conferences, taking training, creating free content like blogs and reports etc all) that they just valued as a cup of coffee. Anyways, in the day and age of information being the king yet being pretty vulnerable for the abundance of me-too gurus, this is a challenge we all are facing. I actually named my 1-hr sessions "I need coffee".

I deal such requests with a simple reply asking them to either send me their questions and I'd consider writing a blog post to help everyone that may have such question, OR sign up for my biweekly free group conference call where they can ask me a question and I'd answer live though in a group and time limited format OR if they want 1-on-1 help then booking a call via Clarity (before Clarity I asked them to book a minimum of 1 hr session with me).

So far this has helped me out a lot in weeding out people who have no sincere intentions to ever pay or respect the time and are just wasting both mine and their own time. Also, those who took time to submit questions or sign up for the conference call are pretty qualified and filtered leads that I follow up with.

Answered 10 years ago

I always tell people to stop asking and just start asking... It's like my wife telling me "we need to talk". Just talk. But make it inspiring. That's what drives me crazy. Be halfway interesting. Better yet -- me outrageous interesting. We all got time for that. :-)

Answered 10 years ago

1. Agree with replying back asking for what they are looking for or more specifics. This helps me understand if its a good use of my time and theirs (perhaps I'm not the right person for the subject or that it does not fit what i am targeting with my time)
2. I set a side a fix chunk of time each week to fill with mentoring or things that are adjacent to core work. For example every Friday from 930-1130. when those get full you offer the following week and the following week etc. This gives you mental boundaries such that you put curbs around doing this.
3. Use Clarity, offer to adjust rate if young or early stage first call (hope to see Clarity rate adjustment codes soon??). The idea that there is a cost tends to vet those who really see a value in the time. i donate mine to www.Good360org and that way its not perceived as "its all about the money"

Answered 10 years ago

At this point you become a communicator. Your main mission as the communicator is to provide clarity. Clarity of the organization’s mission, vision, values, and strategies. Clarity of performance expectations for them as the individual and for the team. To provide clarity, you must be able to send effective messages that would convince the other person that you are “donating time” to help the organization grow. Transparency and authenticity are keys to providing clarity and to creating an atmosphere of trust.
Besides if you do have any questions give me a call:

Answered 4 years ago

My reply?
I'd love that! What are you hoping to get out of it?
and do you have some time after 2pm for a call?

Answered 4 years ago

I do understand it may be enraging at times, whilst recall this is not personal. Projecting one's own frustrations to other's is a force of seeking for help. Unfortunately it tends to be a habit for a great number of people.

Breath, do not engage further and peacefully offer a VIP call.

I offer you your first call where you undoubtedly will know how to deal with difficult clientele, whilst have a solution to what you truly seek.

Answered 4 months ago

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