Debbie Mayo-Smith 's Opinion

A motivational speaker gives her tips on business success

Debbie Mayo-Smith: Never pick their brains

11 comments
Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

Do you have a business pet peeve? Something that makes your spine stiffen when you hear it?

Mine is the term 'can I pick your brains?'

It's wrong for oh, so many reasons and no matter who is asking me - close associates or people I don't know, I instantly get uptight. Especially from people I would call strangers - but they feel they know me because they've read an article, one of my books or seen me speak.

The funny thing is, it's not that I'm loathe to assist. It's just the words. How much better would it sound if someone would say 'can I ask your help please'. Who wouldn't say sure to this? Instead where 'can I pick your brains' makes you feel they want something for free.

With this little rant over, let's look at this continual business occurrence closer.

Before you ask someone for help - realise the actual cost to them - in time.

Perhaps revenue. Lost opportunity. Travel costs.

If someone agrees to help you - it's normally meeting for a coffee somewhere. They have to drive there. They have to buy a coffee (most often). They have to give up at least an hour of their time. Now if that person is a professional or self-employed - think of their opportunity cost. What are they not getting done personally by helping you? Are they missing out on billable time or prospecting time? Time itself is one of the most scarce and valuable commodities for people today.

So before you ask to pick their brains - get off your butt first and do your homework and research.

1. High level Google search

You can find anything online - you just need to know how and where to look. Here's a link to more precise searching on Google.

2. LinkedIn, Facebook groups, Google Plus communities

How many thousands of interest groups are there in social media? Search for them and ask questions within the group. Next week I'll write about how useful these groups can be - lots of free help is available.

3. Networking groups / associations

Join them in the area you want to learn about. Often I'm asked 'can I pick your brains' I want to be a professional speaker'? The first thing these people should do is to join the national speakers association and go to the meetings.

People are always willing to help others. I certainly am. Simply asking to pick someone's brains is in the end, a selfish act if one uses this as the first, or only source of advice/information.

What do you think? What are your experiences asking for help or giving it?


Written by Debbie Mayo-Smith, One of Australasia's most in-demand speakers, trainers and bestselling authors. For more tips and business ideas sign up for her monthly newsletter.

Debbie Mayo-Smith

A motivational speaker gives her tips on business success

Debbie is one of the most in-demand speakers in Australasia; in the top 7pc of speakers globally and well-loved for her practical, plain talking technology quick tips. A best-selling author of sixteen books, Debbie has sharpened the activity of over 1 million individuals around the world through her presentations, training, newsletters, books and videos.

Read more by Debbie Mayo-Smith

Have your say

We aim to have healthy debate. But we won't publish comments that abuse others. View commenting guidelines.

1200 characters left

Sort by
  • Oldest

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_a2 at 23 Sep 2014 05:50:58 Processing Time: 604ms