How to To Say No To People Who Want To Pick Your Brain

To Say No To People Who Want To Pick Your Brain

To Say No To People Who Want To Pick Your Brain

You’re a busy person. You’ve accomplished quite a lot.

But maybe you are bombarded with requests to be mentored or a quick chat for someone to pick your brain over coffee.

You get questions like: “Can I bounce ideas off of you?”

“Can I talk to you about your business?”

“Can we get a quick coffee?”

Sometimes, the most annoying part is that all the questions they ask can be answered in free or very cheap content you have posted online or in a book. Or simply if they Googled.

You love to help but your time is limited and you can’t say Yes to everyone!

On top of that, you want to be polite about saying no and you want to say no without feeling guilty.

You may not even want to have your brain picked.

Maybe you want to be left in peace. And if you did, you want to be paid for it!

I understand completely.

For those who don’t, realize this: many successful people worked really hard for their success and they want to help, but it’s a huge drain when they are bombarded everyday with people just asking for stuff. Additionally, successful people understand the value of their time. The most successful know that they can not just be wasting a few hours every day doing things they don’t want to because it equalizes the time they do get paid. If you make $1000 an hour and then spend 3 hours doing stupid stuff, you’ve cut that to $250 per hour. 

Having reached out myself, I know that it can be a shocker when they are extremely rude about saying No.

For anyone who also wants to do it politely, I thank you because I really hate those rude replies back!

So what do you do when people want to grab a coffee, have a quick chat, or pick your brain?

Here’re 5 things you can do:

  1. Direct people to free content. Have a resource page or FAQ
  2. Use a script. Something like this: “My schedule is pretty full so I can’t meet with you. You can refer to _____ where I have provided a ton of free material that answers your questions.” or “My schedule is full so I can’t meet to chat. All of those questions can be answered in my program ____. It’s all of my best stuff.”
  3. Separate the bottom-feeders from those who are serious. If you have a product or you charge for your services, it is fine to be serious and show that you value your skills. Some people are only there to get your free material and will never pay. Let them know. You don’t have to be overly salesy with it.
  4. Have a gatekeeper. The friendlier and more sociable the better. Get a secretary or assistant.
  5. Charge for your time. If they want to talk, offer a price for an allotted time. Value your time.

These are not hard and fast rules.

If anyone is better socially than me, it’d probably be better to come up with an even polite script.

And of course, there are plenty of successful people who will still voluntarily choose to give their time and energy for free despite being very busy. Why? Because they once started at the bottom as well and want to help out people starting out.

Another thing you can do is manage your time even better so you have more free time.

Here’s a video I did on prioritization:

I’ve learned quite a lot about time management from people in person as well as material I’ve consumed (books, interviews, speeches, etc.)

One of the best things I have come across is a book called Essentialism. You can check it out by clicking here. 

Thanks for reading!

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By Will Chou

I am the the founder of this site and I am grateful you are here to be part of this awesome community. I help hard-working Asian American Millennials get rich doing work they love.

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