Six words all entrepreneurs kind of hate to hear are, “So, can I pick your brain?” Or, “Can I take you out for coffee to get your feedback?” Or even worse, “I’d love to chat with you to learn how you started because I’m thinking of doing something similar.” To a person, almost every entrepreneur I know, dreads this question in conversations, emails and direct messages.
Why? Because by asking a variation of one of these questions, the customer, friend, follower or perhaps even raving fan, often times, without meaning to, completely discounts all the time and money the entrepreneur has spent gaining said knowledge questioner is seeking. Time is money folks. And the question, “So, Can I Pick Your Brain?” implies that the knowledge the entrepreneur has (that you want) should be given away for free.
The request is usually worded something like this:
“Hey Girl, I love what you’re doing! Your Instagram feed is amazing and your products are so on point. I was wondering if we could meet up for coffee so I can pick your brain.”
To be honest, the first couple of times, I was asked a variation of this question I was flattered. However, the more I gave my knowledge away freely, the more I started to feel like I was being used. I only have myself to blame … I gotta tell you, the old adage, why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free, really started to hit home. After awhile, it dawn on me that when a friend asked, “So, can I pick your brain?,” she was asking because she valued what was in my head. Which made me realize, I needed to take stock and value all the knowledge I’ve garnered over the years to come up with an appropriate response.
Roadmap of My Brain
As a result, I decided to do a little brain mapping exercise – I wanted to catalogue what it is that I know that might be of value to others. I’ve been in the entrepreneurial space as both a service provider, a blogger and the owner of a products-based business for almost ten years. But, prior to that, I was a lawyer at one of the country’s top law firms for 10+ years where I worked on major deals and transactions negotiating complex issues and drafting agreements. Navigating law school and graduate school at two of the country’s top tier institutions taught me to become an incisive decision maker. And, writing a cult classic book like The BAP Handbook: The Official Guide to the Black American Princess with 3 friends taught me about team work on a whole ‘nother level, the publishing industry, and marketing and PR in a world before anyone had even dreamed about something called social media. If you mine my brain, I have all sorts of experiences on navigating racial corporate politics, lessons learned from failure and leaving corporate America to pursue entrepreneurship.
My brain houses memories of the tenacity it took to be a competitive figure skater as well as the grit it took to move from the Midwest to New York City. It is a repository of all my experiences and the decisions along the way.
Can You Pick My Brain?
I polled a few of my business besties to see how they typically respond to these requests. One friend said, I don’t have time for these sorts of requests any more. I just don’t respond and hope they get the message. Another said, I’ve gotten so many requests for help with sourcing that I decided to make consultations another part of my business. Armed with this information, I decided to fall into the latter category and used Marie Forleo’s pat response to the question, “So, can I pick your brain?” with the response, sure after you “pick an appointment and method of payment”.
My brain is filled with all kinds of useful knowledge. And let’s be clear, I am happy to answer a question or two. Plus, I’ve provided a ton of FREE content in the form of useful tips and information on my blog and in a number of my Instagram posts. BUT, if you want to do a deep dive into the how, specific strategies, formulas, templates or if you want my advice on the project you’re contemplating, that comes with a price tag. Why? Simply put, because I paid a price to get here.
Over the past couple of years, I’ve gotten so many DM and email requests asking, “So, can I pick your brain?”, that I created two reasonable priced e-books on the topics I’m asked about most often:
I am happy to set up a consultation to chat with you about starting an e-commerce business or improving your Instagram feed when you’re ready to invest in you. I want you to be successful and I would love to be a cog in the wheel that leads to your success. Knowledge is power. Over the course of time, I’ve learned that people who are serious about stepping up their respective games recognize the best way to get ahead is by educating themselves.
Ok, my sermon is over. I’m getting off of my soapbox. I guess I just want you to be cognizant of what your’e asking before you say those dreaded six words, “So, can I pick your brain?”
Stylishly yours, Kalyn
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