This article (see No You Can’t Pick My Brain. It Costs Too Much) is full of practical, right-thinking advice and I find it hard to disagree with much of it.
But it does seem that this piece is missing a key aspect of the discussion: the economy is in the process of changing. Social capital is real – and increasingly measurable – and there is a growing economy in which in can be exchanged.
Ultimately, the economy that matters to most of our survival is still driven by money and we all need to get paid for value we create. No argument there.
Yet, for me, when someone asks to pick my brain, they are asking me to have a conversation – and that’s more about having a relationship, than it is about a piece or two of knowledge. They want to talk, to engage, to get to know me better. And this is an opportunity to build social capital, to deepen a relationship – to GIVE that person something of value.
See, giving is a key aspect of the social capital economy. Givers attract reciprocation and goodwill. Helping and educating is the new marketing.
While knowledge is important to the value equation, time is more critical. If someone is picking my brain because they don’t have the time to find the answers themselves, that’s value I’m offering. If they repeatedly don’t want to pay me for that value, eventually I run out of time to give away for free because paying clients are taking priority. Over time, clients that want more time and greater priority pay for it. In other words, supply and demand takes care of everything.
The fact is, even when I am fully utilizing my time for billable work, I may still wish for someone to want to pick my brain for free – that is, someone more influential than me and with whom I’d like to develop a relationship.
Being prepared to give time and knowledge in the context of a business relationship is key to the success of every business.
I’m all for brain picking – that’s why my favourite site is BrainPickings where Maria Popova shares the pickings of her brain and why I love the concept of Ohours where you can schedule free time with influencers.
So, Adrienne, you’re welcome to pick my brain anytime 😉