Welcome to The Spark Show! In this episode, I’m going over why I don’t let people pick my brain and why you shouldn’t either. A lot of this has to actually do with boundaries and self-worth, which can truly impact your livelihood and your business.
First of all, let’s talk about when people say “pick your brain” - kinda sounds gross, right? It reminds me of “pick your nose” which you really don’t do or you wouldn’t ask people if you can do that for them, right? Ew. Anyways, let’s talk about what this really is.
When people say “pick your brain,” it means that they want to ask you questions and get answers. They want to tap into your expertise, into something you’ve probably been doing for a long time and taking years, even decades, studying, testing, and implementing on your own. And now, people pay you to do that through your job, they give you a salary for those skills or you are paid by people for those services. For example, I can’t unclog a toilet. I really don’t want to unclog a toilet, but there are professionals that I can hire and pay to do that who have lots of skills and experience in doing that without ruining the plumbing or creating a huge entire mess. Guess what?! I have to pay the plumber to do that and they have an hourly rate that I’m totally okay with paying or else I might have to deal with poop. I would never ask to pick the brain of a plumber to get the insight on how to do that because one, that’s what they do for a living and two, I don’t want to do it myself. Now, if you can't afford a plumber, you can read blogs or watch YouTube videos on how to do it yourself. But, you’re probably not gonna call a plumber, email or DM them to ask to pick their brain or here’s a good one - take them to coffee so they can tell you the intricacies of what they do. Now, that’s just an example and hopefully you’re starting to see a different perspective on this.
You may say, "Gwen, but that’s services, that’s different" and I would ask you - why? I get tons and tons of messages from people asking me to review their Instagram account and tell them how they’re going to grow. If I took the time to answer all of these questions for free, I would be completely broke and not sure how to pay the bills. So instead, I created a course and a program that people can buy to get all those answers without taking any of my one-on-one time - which is precious by the way. Think of how much time you really have in a day. Let’s say in a work day - that’s 8-9 hours, 10-12 if you really want to push it. If you’re letting people pick your brain that whole time, you can only help 8-9 people a day and if they’re not paying you, then aren’t you losing out on that time?
Here’s another thing I want to share with you. In the beginning, of course I wanted to help everyone. So, I would let people pick my brain, I would take coffee meetings and then I realized that I would share my strategies and systems with people but they really wouldn’t do anything with that knowledge. Because, the truth is, most people don’t value anything they get for free. Think of the last thing you got for free, a product sample or whatever, it’s probably in the trash or somewhere accumulating dust. But if you think about something you bought for thousands of dollars, like a designer purse or shoes, it’s probably in its dust bag in your closet and you probably keep it really clean, because of the value and the money invested in that.
So, the thing is, even if you let people pick your brain, most people won’t even take action because they never invested anything to get access. They had no “skin in the game.” A mentor once told me, the transformation is in the transaction. For example, most people can’t stick to a fitness regimen until they invest in a personal trainer. Yes, some people can do it on their own, but most people need to invest in themselves and pay the money until something inside them sparks that desire to take action.
I no longer use the phrase “Can I pick your brain?” because I personally feel like it’s disrespectful. It’s like asking a doctor to look at something without making an appointment at their office. If I want professional help, I book a session and pay for a consult. And, if I can’t afford it, I just look for free resources - like a blog or podcast or videos because I respect people’s time and I want people to respect my time. So, if you find yourself doing this, I wanna ask you - how do you expect to be paid for your time if you don’t pay for someone else’s time?
This has a lot to do with money mindset. A lot of people want something for free, but then, they want to be paid. That’s a scarcity mindset. If you truly believe in abundance, you’ll know that what goes around comes around. You hire someone, they hire someone, then someone hires you. That’s what I believe and so far it’s worked.
Now, there are instances where a person decides to volunteer their time or mentor someone. In that case, it’s okay to ask questions if the person offers it. But, I would never ask someone to work for me for free or provide their skills and services because I wouldn’t want anyone to do that to me.
So, what do you do when someone asks you, “Can I pick your brain?” How do you respond? First of all, you can say NO. You can always say no without an explanation. I’ll talk more about that in the next episode. If you want to, you can say, “You can book a session with me where you can ask me any questions you’d like. Here’s the link.” And, the link would send them to a payment page where they can book a session with you. You can have that set up and send it to people. You can also put that offer on your website. Once I had that link, people stopped asking because now they know what an hour of my time is worth.
I want you to value your time too. I want you to know that if all you did was let people pick your brain, you would run out of time and energy for the people who matter to you. You would be dishonoring all the people who did pay for your time, your sessions and your course or program. Spend your time on people who were willing to invest in you.
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