Back in the day, the question “Can I pick your brain?” was music to my ears. As someone eager to impart knowledge and share experiences, I always took these requests as compliments. I believed it was a testament to the value others saw in my insights.
The Early Days: Open Arms and Open Doors
In the beginning, I was a beacon of assistance. Why? Primarily, I had the luxury of time. I could afford to spare an hour or two to discuss ideas, provide feedback, or simply share my perspective on things. It was immensely gratifying, knowing that people saw me as a source of valuable information. Moreover, I genuinely enjoyed sharing. After all, isn’t knowledge most valuable when it’s shared?
The Middle Phase: The Emergence of Doubt
However, as time went on and my calendar started to bulge at the seams, a new sentiment started to creep in. Each “Can I pick your brain?” began to feel less like an innocent request and more like an intrusion into my already packed schedule. The intention behind the question also began to blur. Was it truly about seeking knowledge, or was there an underlying motive? Was I inadvertently feeding potential competitors? Were these sessions providing equal value to my business, or was I merely acting as a free consultancy service?
The Reality Check: Quantifying the ROI
After countless coffee dates, luncheons, and brainstorming sessions, I took a moment to reflect. How many of these interactions led to tangible opportunities for my company? Unfortunately, the answer was: very few. It seemed that the balance of value had tipped. While I was pouring out insights, expertise, and time, there wasn’t much trickling back in.
The Present: A More Guarded Approach
Nowadays, my approach to these requests has matured. My time, just like anyone’s, is finite and valuable. I’ve become more discerning. It’s not about being unapproachable or stingy with knowledge. Instead, it’s about ensuring that any interaction is mutually beneficial. The objective isn’t to shut doors but to ensure that both parties walk away feeling enriched.
To those who genuinely seek knowledge and collaboration, my door remains open. However, the days of one-sided “brain-picking” are firmly in the rearview mirror. The ultimate lesson? Time is a resource, and like any resource, it needs to be managed wisely. As much as I love to help, it’s essential to remember that every professional interaction should be a two-way street.