Tough Love Tuesday: Don’t Ask To Pick Someone’s Brain


When I first started this series back in August, I was suggested by a number of folks to write about people asking to pick their brains. Aside from the horror movie visuals of someone literally picking your brain, the concept is just as scary for people who specialize in a certain subject. It’s great that you consider someone a thought leader in their industry but when you ask someone if you can pick their brain, it can be extremely frustrating to whom you are asking. It sends the message that you value that person’s thoughts and wisdom but not enough to pay for it. You’re asking them to work for free when other people pay for that exact same service. So what do you do when you want to “pick someone’s brain”?

Pay them

I started off with this because if you want someone to do a service for you, you should pay them to do it. You get paid to do your job so expect the same for others. Unless they are specifically volunteering to do their job for no pay, don’t expect them to work for free.

Research on your own

Most likely there is information online about the subject you’re inquiring. Check Google first to see if there are any thought leaders sharing their information online before asking someone to meet in person.

Don’t offer coffee or lunch

You may think that a quick coffee meeting isn’t much of a bother but it’s taking valuable time out of someone’s day. What you think will be a 15-minute meeting can go past an hour with commuting to the cafe, to ordering the drink, to small talk, to then finally getting to the point of the meeting, and then leaving to go back to your office. Instead, ask for a phone call. Many people offer 15-minute consultation call for free (you can schedule one with me here!). It will be scheduled into the pickee’s schedule and you won’t be taking them away from their workday.

Have a point to the conversation

If someone agrees to meet with you, know exactly what your questions are. If you don’t know what you want to talk about, the pickee will feel like their time is being wasted. Have a structure for the meeting and again, keep it brief.

Be grateful

Show gratitude for the time they’ve taken to meet with you. If you did ask for coffee or lunch, actually pay for it. Send them a handwritten note or a small gift. Hit up your social media and tell your friends to HIRE them. Showing your gratitude goes a long way and helps the pickee know you appreciate that their time is valuable.