Marie Forleo introduction


I'm Marie

You have gifts to share with the world and my job is to help you get them out there.

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Oh sweet, sweet, mother of pasta!

I’m 2 days away from heading off to Italy for a looooong overdue vacation. This trip is something I’ve dreamed about for years and we finally got our acts together to make it happen.

That means I’ve been waaaay more productive than ever to get everything done so I can totally unplug while we’re away.

Which brings me to today’s brand new episode of MarieTV.

If they want to pick your brain, ask them to pick a time and method of payment. Click To Tweet

Here’s the scene: you’re busy as all heck working your buns off.

Through your blood, sweat and tenacity — you’ve gained a lot of experience and expertise.  Things are really starting to come together.  Everyone you know is taking notice, but unfortunately…

You’re now drowning in constant requests from friends who want to “have coffee and pick your brain.”

But the truth is…
a. You don’t freakin’ have time for coffee right now.
b. You don’t want to have your brain picked.
c. And, if you did, you’d wanna get paid for it!

If you’re tired of ignoring these emails and feeling guilty about it, this episode of MarieTV is for you.

You’ll get three word-for-word scripts to help you kindly and elegantly navigate non-stop brain picking requests.

As always — I’d love to hear your take on this topic.

What’s your go to way to deal with people wanting to “grab a coffee” and/or pick your brain?

Have you ever been that person who’s asking to “brain pick” or grab coffee — and been told ‘no’ elegantly?

Leave a detailed comment below and let me know.

As always, thank you for reading, watching and contributing.

Baci e abbracci-

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  1. Awesome content. I love it.

    I actually started a “Pick My Brain” offer a while back.. and you’re right it stopped lots of people in their tracks. The ball went in their court as to whether they wanted to move forward (with payment) or not.

    ~ darlene 🙂

    • Darlene: I love that you called it the “Pick my Brain” offer” !!!
      It makes it really clear that there will be a payment for your time involved 🙂

      • I second that, Caroline!

        I’ve seen the “Buy Me Coffee” offers before but “Pick my Brain” is SO to the point!

        On the other hand, what I get is a bit different: clients who have bought one or two coaching sessions with me will email me after our standard follow-up email detailing more updates in their life and basically requesting email coaching.

        I don’t think they realize they’re doing this of course, so it’s up to me to set the boundary and direct them to book another session if they truly need me to hold a space to give them clarity (unless it’s just a quick comment I can make to give them a boost of encouragement).

        Would love to hear from you ladies regarding recommendations on language you’ve used to lovingly direct them back to paid services in this situation.

        It’s a fine line as I of course am happy to provide that extra TLC (it’s part of who I am and my branding) but if I’m unclear on the boundary, I can’t possibly expect them to know where they are :).

        • Sabrina I have this happen all of the time with my website and coaching clients. I build a site and may give a little marketing help or social media suggestions (that they didn’t get the package for) and as soon as they get stuck they are calling or emailing for more help. I try to help a little sometimes sending an article for then read on the subject, or one client I even used her issue for my video blog post so she’d have step by step instructions. If they continue to ask I recommend they may need more focused or targeted training to work the individual issues and I invite them book a session or recommend a package I offer. Usually they back off or say yes I want a session. My threshold is if the issue isnt isomething that I can’t find a quick reference to send them or even use a topic to help others, then its a specific to them issue and they need 1 on 1 help.

          • O M G…You just got me thinking. I had a person come to me as a potential accounting client, but they decided they didn’t want to change Accountants but wanted to have coffee and discuss my ideas on property advice..Gulp!…I went for coffee and they made a lot of money from my advice! Now when I think about it it was very rude of them. I feel like such a softie walk over. I thought it would get me a client but they got everything they needed…for free.

        • Hi Sabrina!

          Well I got the idea from Danny Iny where he has a “Borrow My Brain” which I actually did at $250. right before his price went up to $350.

          As far as clients wanting to move into an unpaid email coaching program, I saw a brilliant idea at

          What she does is offer email coaching!! Perfect 🙂

          I used to spend untold hours giving away my expert advice because I want everyone to be successful. One day it occurred to me that I’ve spent years.. and sleepless nights.. and frustration and money to learn what I know. And it’s SUPER valuable!

          So just like a doctor, dog-trainer, lawyer, hairdresser, author, or whatever.. I now get paid for what I know.

          ~ darlene 🙂

          • Suz

            THANK YOU, DARLENE!!!! 😀 xo

        • Sabrina,
          I’d listen to their question and acknowledge their problem and suggest that they schedule an appointment with me to work thru their issues and concerns. This way, the ball is back in their court and you’re not really giving away free info. 🙂


          • Cielle

            I love this response Timperis. It’s a perfect way to do what you just said, acknowledge them and their issue but let them know if they are serious about a solution from you, then they need to pay for it. I will remember this tip in the future, thanks.

        • So valid- our time is the most valuable thing we have that is why we call it – PAY attention. – the pick my brain offer sounds perfect! Good idea by the previous commenter. Love this article.

    • I love that, Darlene! Something that’s totally clear that you can direct people to. I’ve also seen similar “let’s have coffee” offers on other websites.

      • Great topic, Maria. Happens to be the same topic I covered in my column in the current issue of Entrepreneur Magazine.

        My idea for the column came from endless requests for people to buy me coffee. Hence, I created a Buy Me Coffee service where people can spend +/- an hour with me for a strategy session. People who are interested in creating real change will gladly pay to get unstuck. Those who are looking for shortcuts like lattes and cocktails in lieu of paying for the privilege of accessing the inherent wisdom in someone’s life and business experiences.

        I’ve always thought it to be funny: you think enough of me to seek out and want access to my expertise, but you don’t think it’s worth your coin? On the list of things I don’t have time for: THAT.

        • Kate

          Erika –
          I believe the difference between your approach and hers is that Marie’s is done in the spirit of kindness, yours in the spirit of WTF. “Gladly pay to get unstuck?” What if they’re long-term unemployed ‘stuck’? Perhaps you could view your success as generous and a means by which you can help others when and in whatever way you can instead of thinking everyone is clambering to get up in your business for nothing. You can set boundaries without building an electrified fence.

          {btw – typo, her name is Marie. }

          • Kate no offence here but when you’ve had way too many people ‘just want to pick your brain’ but give nothing in return, it’s pretty frustrating.

            It’s like they’re saying they don’t value your time, the money you’ve spent gaining your knowledge and investing in your business and into others.

            So I think Erika is bang on. Also I’d suggest no-one wants a ‘long-term unemployed’ client on their hands. There are plenty of free services, mentors, government grants, free events, conferences and even libraries if they really want to do something about their situation.

            Erika’s a talented lady who’s worked hard to build her business and deliver quality to her clients (I’ve been watching her from afar and that’s the impression I get) so why should she spend valuable time that could go towards helping her clients who really need her help for someone who doesn’t want to or can’t right afford to?


          • Well first, typos happen. I’ve followed Marie long enough to know her name, but hey — you caught me with a slip of the keyboard! My bad.

            Secondly, members of my community know how grateful I am that they are there, as they’re the reason for any success I enjoy. However, I do what I do for a living. Beverages and meals don’t pay mortgages, school tuitions, and utility bills. Thus, I charge for working with me (the audacity). I do plenty for free and for plenty of people — but it’s never based on the expectation that I’ll do so. I also never hold the expectation of “free” over anyone else’s head.

            You don’t have to like my brand, who I am, what I do, or how I do it. But the beauty of branding is this: it’s *my* fence. And frankly, I’ll build whatever kind of fence I see fit. That’s what lets the right people in — those who are willing to climb over my brand of fence. It also keeps the wrong people out 🙂

          • Gnanse

            Thank GOD, somebody finally said it! I was getting worried! Call me “Pollyanna,” if you must, but surely we can be grateful that people are even seeking our advice. Yes, our time is valuable and No, we’re not a doormat, but a little charity never hurt anyone. None of us got where we are by ourselves. We mustn’t be too quick to turn our back on someone today because we never know where they’ll be tomorrow.

        • Erika, I don’t think your comment sounded mean spirited in the least. It was honest and gave people a choice. Thanks for the Buy-me-coffee service idea; I think it’s a good one.

        • beachmama

          Great idea Erika. If you’re getting a slew of requests for your time and people WANT something from YOU, they should look for a way to give back. I’ve requested a brain-picking session or two in my life but I ALWAYS ask what I can do for the requestee. Example: I want time with a girlfriend who’s a single mom and works at a crazy busy, intense job. I rarely see her. She just sold her house and is moving. I offered to come help her pack for a day. She knows I’m respectful of things and an ace packer. I get time with her and I’m doing something that helps her out. Even if someone can’t pay, there is always a way to work it out for creative thinkers.

          • Lorraine

            Completely agree Beachmama! I have recently found myself in a number of situations where either I or the person with the service have bartered something that didn’t involve money to make sure we both got something out of the deal. For instance, I made a short movie for someone in return for 2 years worth of free advertising on their website. I wouldn’t have dreamed of asking for free advertising!

          • Wow you sound like a dream friend! Why aren’t you in my life… As a single mom you’ve given me a new perspective. AND ideas for how to respond to friends and family who demand a lot of my time, and then get mad when I can’t give it to them ~ Plus I love bartering and trades.
            Thank you <3

        • Ooooweeew Erika I love your comment. So right on! I took a look at your website and you are to the point and clearly come across as knowing your worth. The way it’s written is fierce! I love it girl.


        • Hi Erika,

          I like your points, your style and both of your comments. It’s true … spending hours having your brain picked for free doesn’t pay for rent, food, clothes, utilities, tuition or anything else you need and it doesn’t respect all of the time, effort, energy and money you’ve personally invested in cultivating your expertise in a certain field.

          I also like what you said about building your fence. This is why I love reading your stuff and the stuff from Ramit Sethi! If someone doesn’t like what you are saying or how you are saying it, THEY AREN’T YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE. That’s why you have to niche, respect what you are offering and charge for the value you are providing … because your clients ARE receiving value from what you offer.


        • Christine

          Thanks for your comment!

        • Love you hot stuff Erika!

        • Ha, Erika!

          “On the list of things I don’t have time for: that”— is my new favorite.

          I’m going to be sure to look up your article.

        • I kind of wanted to reply to both, Erika Napoletano and Natalie Sisson, but, am not sure if I am hitting the right reply button. I like your approach, Erika, and I also like Natalie’s response to Kate’s comment, but, I value Natalie’s opinion on many things. When someone wishes to pick my brain, they usually regret opening up Grey’s Anatomy. 😉

        • Anita

          Erika, this is great advice, thank you. I love that people like you and Natalie Sisson also take the time to post your comments and advice on here. It’s great for those of us who are still very new to all of this. I love your work too btw 🙂

        • Erika: You hit the nail on the head. And no, it’s not mean. It’s realistic. I’ve been an attorney for 21 years. I started out as a public defender representing underserved members of the community. I got paid and clients got free services. Unfortunately, I never lost that Public Defender attitude and, as a result, have engaged in very bad business practices. I have a hard time taking care of myself and saying “no.” What I find, all the time, is people demanding free consultations (for as long as they “need), or asking me to compete with a younger, less experienced attorney and reduce my fee. So, as another writer here stated, it’s extremely frustrating. And more times than not, when I do say “no”, the response had been overwhelmingly negative (name calling, sneering, people calling back just to complaint because I apparently “owe” them something).

          So, I have initiated using the example that they would never go into the 7-11 down the street and grab products and leave, thinking that they were entitled. Unfortunately, I still get a rash of expletives by more people than not because, apparently after taking out $100,000 in loans to go to law school, and being a public defender (low paying), I went out on my own and instantly made millions and had no obligations.

          But it works on a few people, and that’s fine with me.

          • I can only imagine the requests you get, especially as an attorney! My attorney is a key resource for my business — and well worth every penny. So thank you for what you do — AND for charging for it, as it’s beyond worth it 🙂

          • Inspiring as always Marie, thanks for all the great business advice.

        • Marie’s final line, I think, gets at the heart of why this is an issue in the first place. She says, “If you want people to value your time, you have to put a value on it.” But what the video is saying is, “If you want people to PAY FOR your time, you have to put a PRICE on it,” which is a very different conversation. Pricing is arbitrary. People can value the hell out of the time you give them, but not be willing or able to pay the price you set.

          Grocery stores charge money for food, and some people go hungry because they can’t afford food, or don’t allocate their money to it. The “right’ thing would be to give everyone food for free. But then, do we expect farmers to grow it free, manufacturers to produce it, truckers to ship it, employees to stock it, etc.? The value of it doesn’t change if we give it away free; it’s just a matter of deciding where to put the money.

          This conversation keeps coming up among various contractors, because we want to be able to say “no” without that guilty feeling of saying, “No thanks, I don’t value your success enough to give you my time.”

          The reason we feel guilty turning people down is that the reality of business has forced us to choose money over the human interaction and helpfulness that we would naturally choose. It’s okay to ask for money, but it’s also okay to feel that guilt — that’s what keeps you honest and compassionate and not cold and money-hungry.

        • Erika – Just found your work. Solid.

      • Ohhh! I love these ideas, Laura and Darlene! Thank you! Yes, I’m getting more and more of these kinds of requests these days so this MarieTV and these suggestions could not have come at a better time. Thank you 🙂

      • Love this. 😀

    • Brilliant idea, Darlene! This is exactly why I love this community – it’s bursting with smart women and ideas!

    • I like it- the ‘pick my brain’ offer Darlene, that would certainly focus the attention somewhat!
      Great scripts Marie. It may depend on the nature of the query as sometimes one person’s question is the one that your other readers want to know the answer to, so it is good to collect this information but in an organised maner that isn’t time consuming. This is why the ‘get specific’ tactic is so good.
      Also, when you’re first starting out it is a fine line between what is
      networking and what is wasting your time, I guess that changes over time.

      • I have to agree with you Kathryn. Some of my conversation starters stemmed from requests for coffee with family and friends.

    • That’s a great idea Darlene! Thanks for sharing!!

    • Genius – both the video, and your ‘Pick my Brain’ offer – I totally am gonna steal that, if I may pick your brain on that one?

    • This is brilliant!!! I get asked to get my brain picked all the time. After taking B-school, I’m now creating products for all hose people. Not only are Maries scripts amazing but I LOVE this idea too! Thanks for sharing.

      P.S. I love your site Darlene!

      • Hello Christie,

        How was B-school, I am definitely getting enroll for the next one. Is it over now? I think Marie said she will have the opening for next year so I am waiting for it. This is so funny because I have been approach several weeks ago and I am in the middle of getting my site and business running.

        • beachmama

          B-School is FABULOUS Madeline! I wasn’t ready to move forward with my business so I’ll need to go back over everything but it’s all still available to me! How great is that?! I’ve implemented just a few things I learned to my husbands business and it’s been transformative in his way of marketing himself and bringing in more and higher quality customers. A nice bonus is that there are B-Schoolers who form groups through social media and they share triumphs, failures, and LOTS of help and support. If you’re serious about business, B-School will get you there if you follow the recipe. The down side, B-School is only once a year . . . but SO worth it even after you’re up and running. Congratulations on getting your business up and running!

    • Great idea! A pick my brain offer! I just may have to copy you on that one! 🙂 I always tell people ‘it costs money to pick my brain!’
      Thanks Marie for another great video!

    • Oh that’s *Pure Genius* Darlene! Thanks for sharing that. What a great idea! Like the other ladies here I love that you labelled it as you did. No confusion what folks are gonna get when they buy it and that makes it so much easier to offer it to them. They’re getting exactly what they asked for!

      Jo x

    • Awesome idea, Darlene.. Can’t wait to try this one out!

    • Darlene, yes! That’s a great name for it. Helps people realize that even just picking your brain is valuable.

    • So cool! I would love to offer something like that one day!

    • Hey ladies!
      I have been a “brain picker” quite a few times and when I emailed a fellow b-school babe, Rebecca Tracey, she sweetly replied and directed me to her “pick my brain” session and I booked right away. Here is a link –

      As a brain picker, I am happy to pay for someone I admire’s time – I think this is a great example!


      • Love your comment Jessica and the ideas shared above.

        I think there are a lot of people who genuinely want to connect and learn (rather than ‘steal’), and would happily pay for a ‘pick your brain’ session if it was on offer.

        What a great way for us all to respond to these requests AND bring in more revenue to our businesses.

        Emma x

      • Thanks Jessica! Yeah, I learned early on that while I wish I could help everyone for free, that’s not exactly a viable business model 🙂 I have paid people that I look up to for an hour of their time before, knowing that I could ask them anything I wanted about the straight up goods on what I needed to know about ____. And it was SO much more worth it to me than the time/effort/headache it would have used doing endless Google searches and trying to reinvent the wheel. I’d rather just pay someone straight up to tell me how to do something!

        Super grateful that you recognize the value in paying for someone’s (ie. my) time 🙂 Loved chatting with you and would love to hear where you’re at now. Fire me an email, would ya?!

    • Love it Marie, as always you are on point! I’ve only had a few of these instances in my time and your advice on handling them are graceful yet leave no question about where you stand. Awesome.

      And you crack me up!

      Thanks for sharing all your wisdom girl! Enjoy Italy!

    • That’s a brilliant idea, Darlene!!! And it sounds so much cooler than a “coaching session” :):)

    • Robert Glenn

      This video was great. I would just remind people about two things: (1) Every request for coffee is not necessarily a hustle for free consulting. Some time it takes a “getting-to-know-you” lunch or coffee to identify where mutual opportunities for business are. (Before you pass on that coffee, read this book: Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi ).

      2) Even if they are trying to get a free sample of your expertise, it doesn’t mean they can’t be converted into clients. You want to qualify them first, and if they qualify, the coffee is a selling opportunity. And if you feel that people in the past have taken advantage of your good nature, make sure you aren’t projecting that on someone who may have legitimate intentions. The request for coffee may be an audition, not a brain-pick.

      OK, one more thing: the reverse brain-pick. If they are looking for answers from you,. you don’t give answers, you ask questions back. If you expose flaws in what they are doing, you can point them toward a solution that requires paid engagement. And if all else fails, just ask them back the question they ask you. e.g Brainpicker: How would you fix this McGuffin?” You: “How are you trying to fix the McGuffin now?” They will then go on without realizing the verbal judo move you just used, and most likely give you the information needed to start closing them on paying you.

      • Great point, Robert! I think in the beginning we should say yes to as many opportunities as possible. I had to stop reading the Never Eat Alone to start implementing!

      • I think it’s very smart to be careful about assuming, Robert. I agree with you. Your points are well stated and important. Thanks for another POV.

      • Good point Robert- I actually contacted another coach recently thru a mutual friend to see if we could benefit each other. Her business is much more developed than mine and she was very generous with her time. I contacted her in the first place because she hosted a series of webinars and it was clear to me a lot of the coaches speaking could use a voice coach. I do hope we work with each other in the future or that she will refer me- I will certainly refer her when appropriate. Right now we are Facebook friends.

      • Anita

        Robert, I completely agree with you. As a very new entrepreneur I am quickly learning to tell the difference between valuable coffee conversations and not-so-valuable ones! My challenge is constantly fielding the requests from colleagues and friends who remain stuck in the corporate world and just want to have a good moan. I’ve started to say no to every single one of these requests and no longer feel guilty about it 🙂

        • Great advice Robert! I completely agree that we shouldn’t assume people are always trying to get over on us, especially when you’re a new business owner. Much like Anita I am quickly learning how to tell the difference between coffee chats that I can afford to have and ones that I need to pass on. It’s been a bit of a challenge but saying no to requests that are just a drain all around feels amazing.

      • Thank you for pointing this out, Robert. As someone who finally put her foot down about brain-picking coffee dates after essentially giving a clueless CEO an entire marketing staffing plan over coffee, I have used the “Sure, I’m available for a 15 minute phone chat, but if you’d like to get together for an hour, we can bill this as a consulting session – no problem!”,

        However…..I’m also aware not every request for coffee is to sponge. Sometimes it’s helpful to expand your network or keep it stoked for when things get bumpy; sometimes you just want to make new friends and hear what people are working on. Let’s not all get crazy and make assumptions. I remember asking a woman for coffee when I was new to a city because a friend of mine said we would both love hanging out with each other. She assumed I wanted free advice when all I wanted was to make a new friend..

        I do agree we all need to weigh our time and if you seriously don’t have time, don’t want to make new friends/expand your network or engage in business development for future work, these scripts work great. We all need to remember our time is valuable, but we also need to discern each situation and assess between people trying to get a free lunch and people just reaching out for a human connection and friendship.

        • T.Lee

          These are great scripts; and I plan to use them when it looks appropriate.

          I have a similar but slightly different situation (anyone willing to chime in that would be great).

          I was introduced to someone through a former colleague, because the former colleague thought we may have some common interests. Basically, I met up with this person and we started talking about a business endeavor she is doing. Well when she heard that I do one particular thing, she was like “oh great, you can help me with that”. Out of kindness I was sharing some tips on things I am doing to help get my own thing off the ground. Well, basically it has turned into this whole dynamic where we are meeting to help her launch her business. We have met twice for about a couple of hours each time, she wants to call me as she has questions, and she wants me to take my time to use one of my talents to support her efforts in getting her business off the ground. All this, and no mention of compensating me whatsoever.
          The problem is, I am not an established marketing or business “professional”. I just learn from others about those topics. It looks like she is seeing benefit from “picking my brain” and wants to continue to meet. She is also wanting to do “friend things” like go to certain events together.

          I have no idea how to tell her to pay me when I am not an established marketing or business coach to be able to charge for that. I am learning myself. I thought about using it as experience, and then eventually charging other people. However the truth is, I really need to spend my time on creating income right now as I am in a less than ideal financial situation at the moment. Free consulting for hours at a time every week is not paying all the bills I am facing.

          I am not sure how to handle this situation. Any tips?

      • Caroline

        I agree when it comes to personal meettings, but at least for me, Marie’s tips will be useful to deal with strangers that contact me online, not asking for a one-on-one meeting, but an email response, a long one, answering all their questions, which if you actually do once, you end up getting a huge problem to deal with in the future, since you open the door and that person will think you’re available to answer any question, any time, for free! I think when it comes to people you know personally and want to meet for coffee or lunch, you need to weight in how much of a networking benefit you can’t “exchange” for that free consult. Something it pays to actually go out and talk to people…

      • I love your point Robert about asking questions, instead of giving answers. I pitched a web design project for a company that my husband works for. As I was writing it, I knew I shouldn’t be doing it without a contract, but thought they would hire me as they were so unhappy with their current designer. It’s not even a long story to make short… The person making the decisions “didn’t see my email” until she re-hired the designer they already had at a “price they couldn’t refuse” and I’m sure they brought my extensive write-up of ideas to the meeting. Sigh. Lesson learned.

    • Love the “pick my brain” offer. Brilliant idea!

    • Laura

      Heck yeah…. if you’re getting that much demand, you need to monetize it! It gives people a low risk opportunity try you out, it nurtures a lead (instead of shutting them down), and hopefully makes it easier for you to convert clients.

    • Love the idea Darlene!! Will start doing this asap :).

    • Thank you Marie! You hit it on the nail. You have to show people that you honor your time and expertise by setting boundaries. Darlene, your “Pick the Brain” offer is brilliant.

      If people are not willing to put skin in the game by investing in themselves or their business, then how do they expect clients to invest in their products or services.

      Keep Shining!
      Julie 🙂

    • Darlene, this is exactly the reason I created my “stray cat fund” to give specific help to people that might be stuck. For people who are genuinely in a tight spot and can’t afford my fee, this gives them a chance to get some help. I only offer a limited amount of pro-bono time each month, and when it’s up it’s up.

      I’m pretty generous with my “email time”, but when a recent client asked for 30 minutes on my talk time calendar, I had to draw a line. My script?
      “With the kids getting out of school, my talk time is very limited, so I reserve that time for IPA. Would you like me to send you a payment link to reserve some talk time? Or you can shoot me a quick email and I’ll see what I can do to help.”

    • That’s a really great idea. I actually kinda love it. I’ll definitely make this an option. Very clear and to the point without having to feel icky!

    • Darlene,
      I’m finally getting around to having my site designed by a wonderful designer and your Pick My Brain idea is fantastic. I’ve been trying to find a way to do smaller offers (because I enjoy variety and smaller clients along with the larger jobs) and this is just great.

      This video couldn’t be better timed. I’m an editor, copywriter, and creative/brand strategist who sort of takes people’s dreams for a project and makes them happen—and have founded or been on the staff of 3 high-profile magazines in the web-making world. That means that every time I turn around, someone is starting a magazine or has a startup and wants my advice or feedback in a “little chat.” Sure, there’s give and take in this world, and I have questions for other people, too. But, it has gotten out of hand. I’m certainly never offered money and meanwhile, they ride off into the sunset with my ideas honing their work. 🙂 I was agonizing ALL MORNING about how to respond to a recent request. Now, I know! Thank you!

    • Darlene, that is a ROCKING idea and I am SO gonna use it ツ I checked out your site and signed up for your 20-Day Blog to Profit Course. Looking forward to getting to know you. Have a great day! Cheers from sunny Amsterdam, Jakolien

    • Darlene
      That’s a fabulous idea!

    • That is a truly AWESOME idea, really cool name but also states nicely that it’s not a free thing.

    • I’m a nutritionist and people do this to me ALL THE TIME!!!! I need to put a pick my brain offer up on my site! It will really help!

    • My approach is similar to yours, Darlene. When people ask to “pick my brain” for “relationship advice” I ask them, “About how much do you think I’ll be saving you by you not having to make numerous appointments with a psychologist or the like?” Then, after THEY provide a dollar figure, I say, “Wow!” My fee is $____” which is always far less.

    • LOL – Love that Darlene!!!

    • FANTASTIC! Saying no is hard to do eloquently. I will revise my standard answer of, “I would love to join you, it is just not possible at this time”. My old statement left me wide open for repeating myself.

      Ohh…I will be using this new material, you can count on it!

    • I love this idea. I created a pick my brain FAQ age to direct new coaches who want to know how to step into the spotlight in their coaching business. After the New York Times article I was featured in as a mentor to young coaches helping them to go the next step I had pickets hanging out everywhere I looked! I am the coaches coach and I do offer scholarships to my training school but not for free friends! The page helped a lot and included links to blogs and sales pages to keep them on my website, opt in AND buy.

    • Darlene, you ROCK! Totally awesome and smart of you.

    • omg, this is so timely because i just got “another” one of those requests to pick my brain for something i do for a LIVING! but in fairness, not everyone knows exactly (if they are not close friends and only have a casual acquaintance with you) what we do for a living, until we “edumacate” them ;-).
      so i cut people slack and keep it short and sweet – using a combination of these techniques. i LOVE this “Pick My Brain” offer idea, Darlene!!! thanks, Marie, for the great A to that Q!

    • This is a great idea Darlene. Thanks I think I’ll try it 🙂

    • Excellent idea! I’ve been trying a way to word it. I’ll just make a “Pick My Brain” Button! I’ll put it right on the front of my site!

    • I find myself in a little different predicament in that I am sometimes asked for tips and advice, but I also ask for it. I find it tricky to keep track of the tit for tat… but so far, I don’t feel taken advantage of and before I bug a friend I make sure I word my question so that it can be quickly answered. And I do it via email or facebook message so that they can answer whenever convenient. Still… I realize I need to be a bit more hesitant before I ask for free support.

    • Ellen

      Holy unicorns. a “pick my brain” offer. I love it. Am stealing it immediately. Thank you for sharing that.

    • OMG this is sparking ideas for a whole new (well, new to me, business model). The name of my company is already “coaching on the go” so maybe I’ll play off that with packages like “A latte and leadership” coaching series of 6 sessions, a “just dessert” if they only want a one-time strategy or brainstorming session and “A meal and a muse” series of they want several courses of coaching, including in person and email…hmmmm. Thanks for sharing great insights…can I buy ya some coffee? LOL 🙂

      Tracey in Central VA

    • I had “that” text today
      Very proud of my “brain Picker response i created today!
      Thank you so much for your wonderful suggestions, I used a bit of each plus a bit of me to get the tone right. use what you like.

      Hi x

      I would like to be able to help but my time is so limited. Maybe your business has reached a stage where it needs a more strategic approach and a comprehensive plan of action so that you can move forward effectively.

      I have a couple of coaching slots available before half term that I am currently holding for a new client, but I can offer one of them up to you if you are interested in becoming a client and formalise the coaching process and the time I am able to spend with you.

      Here are the details of what we can do together.

      You’ve come so far and it sounds like it’s time to gain even more momentum. If you’d like to explain in more detail exactly what you are looking for, I can help you work out how much time you might need to book with me to take you to the next stage

      Also if there is specific help you need that requires a different skill set to mine I may be able to refer you on to someone who is expert in that area and in a better position to be able to help.

      Looking forward to hearing from you.


    • Genius! I love that you could say, “Oh, you’d like to pick my brain? I have that exact service!!!”

    • I lOVE this idea! Thank you for sharing!

    • That is freaking brilliant! I think all of us need to have this kind of offer. Note to self. Add this service to my site lol

    • Awesome!
      This video nails exactly, precisely what I’ve been going through lately now that my business *after years and years of work (pro bono and juggling sandwich-slinging, etc.) is beginning to take off. Thank you for creating and sharing this. How empowering!

    • That’s an awesome idea, Darlene! I may have to try something like that! 🙂

  2. This has been hard for me, too! I’m the queen of not responding to requests like these when I’m swamped (which is most of the time now) because I don’t like saying “no.” But I love these scripts, Marie! They’re direct but also polite, which feels really good to me.

    Also, lovin’ the shout-out to my Spice Girls!

  3. Isn’t it amazing how we can be super productive when the pay off is going to Italy??? YEAH!

    The “elegant” & diplomatic way I have found to remedy the “I wanna pick your brain” request is to kindly direct them to my website where I have crafted specifically for such requests, a new mentorship program.

    YES, I have strong business experience + knowledge + wisdom from having made mistakes & won a few battles, I’ve made money with my businesses, and YES I’m absolutely willing to share but you have to honour my time.

    Simple & honourable for both parties involved.

  4. That’s so exciting that you’re off to Italy, Marie. My aunt just got back from a two week trip there and had so much fun seeing family and the country–I hope you do as well!

    Your scripts for dealing with “can I pick your brain” are great–I almost can’t wait to use the Spice Girls script :-). That’s a question that I struggled with so much in the beginning (it can still get to me sometimes, but it doesn’t shock me quite so much).

    The biggest thing for me is realizing that *everyone* gets this question, regardless of what they do. And it’s actually kind of a good thing–it means you’re describing what you do in a way that people “get” and are interested in because if they didn’t, they wouldn’t ask if they could have your time.

    For me, if I want to get to know the other person better, I’m usually game for something in person. But the emails that want me to give them free info… I direct them to my newsletter and tell them that I’ll be storing their question for a future issue. That feels generous without being overwhelming for me.

    • I really like your idea at the end, Jessica! It’s a lot like Marie’s Q&A Tuesday!

    • I like that idea too. You can use those questions to build a FAQ list that you direct people to.

      • That’s a great idea, to turn it into a FAQ that you can link it to, Camesha! My answers tend to be really long, but for shorter stuff that would be a great fit (and so easy to use if you get a lot of similar questions).

        Thanks, Laura! It is a lot like Marie’s Q&As (though a lot less work to write the answers than to make videos ;-)).

  5. Aida

    Thanks for that, Marie, very useful!! I now know what to say : )

  6. Tricky situation. Great suggestions for handling it. I wonder how much trouble men have with this. Something tells me they don’t feel as guilty having to reject someone’s offer/insistence.

    As Marie said, it really does come down to a perception of self-worth…as does just about EVERYthing else. Tracy, your energy is a valuable commodity and you have to guard your reserves. Nothing wrong with that when it’s done honestly and tactfully.

    • Interesting point, Emelia – I do wonder how much men struggle with this.

    • Great point. I’m sure they don’t feel a whole lot of guilt.
      Everything always boils down to a limiting belief.

      • Truth. Limiting beliefs are a “mothahumpa!” We’re as strong as our weakest link and that would be the lowest underlying belief we have about ourselves.

    • I struggle with it as well! I have build my business through networking which now has me in a bit of a bind.

      I have stopped networking as much, but still get requests and have the toughest time saying no. And when I do say no… I feel like a d-bag. :-/

      • Saying no can be so tough, but looking at it from a self-worth perspective makes all the difference.

        • Self-worth is everything. In other news, got my products… 🙂

      • Hi All!
        Mariah, men are no different with this subject.Ha!
        Teevee this is for you too.
        I’m a commercial photographer and I get invited to events or networking functions and I get asked, “Hey, can you bring your camera and take a few shots?” or “You’re coming to X right? Can you shoot me a quick headshot, nothin’ fancy?”.
        The answer to the first question is “No, actually I go to the event to participate and taking “a few shots” just gets in the way. If you would like I can give you a quote to shoot the event”.
        The answer to the second question is “Refer to answer number one”.
        Sometimes people just don’t realize what they are asking.
        No is a fabulous word to learn how to use correctly. Learn how to use it readily and it will set you free, literally. Get really comfortable with it and here’s the cool part. If you say NO and then reconsider, it’s much easier to say YES. You can’t do the reverse without causing commotion!
        Go ahead, try it like 2,3,10 times. Make it your go to word and you’ll preserve your VALUABLE TIME grasshopper!
        One more thing. The story goes Picasso was sitting in a restaurant and a lady and her friend approached him, interrupting his meal. She gushed all over him saying how much she loved his work. She asked if he could “just draw something small’ for her? He said, “I don’t have my materials”. She said, “Oh, just use this paper napkin”. He proceeded to draw something, signed it, and handed her the napkin. She gushed even more and said how thrilled she was. He said “I’m happy you are, that will be 10 thousand dollars”. She was startled and said “It only took you 20 seconds”. He replied “No, my dear, a lifetime”.
        If you don’t value your time, no one else will either.

        • Kim

          Love it!

          • Hey Mike!

            Love your response! The Picasso story is GOLD!

            I actually have a client of mine that emailed me yesterday asking how to handle photographers who want to come by her business and share their portfolio. They are looking for her to hire them but honestly she is in NO position to entertain visits from random vendors right now. She wanted to know the best way to say no to the photographer after she has already kindly said no thanks and she will keep their info on file.

            I was wondering as a photographer yourself if there was a way you would best appreciate someone communicating with you if they didn’t want to have a sit down?

          • Victoria

            When I owned a retail store I had a policy of seeing every vendor who wanted to present their work. But they needed to book an appointment first. Typically I was “booked” 3 weeks out. I never was viewed as someone who did not want to see their work, just as a busy business person. If they were willing to wait 3 weeks, then I gave them a convenient time in my schedule to see me and do their presentation. And I never said No to seeing a vendor.

        • Great story… I’ve heard it attributed to a few famous artists and it’s a point we all need to take in. I KNOW men struggle with it because my husband is a psychiatrist/psychotherapist and it’s amazing how many people try to get free counseling. We actually had a “friend” see us in a restaurant once and sat down and proceeded to tell all her marital problems to him and ruin our Friday night date night. That’s when he said, NO MORE. As for me, I have had to deal with this a few times lately, and I seem to have less problem saying, “No, sorry, I’m too busy these days. But I have some great info on my website and you can always sign up for some coaching.”

        • Hey Mike! Thanks for the response, but my original question wasn’t if you struggle with the pick the brain problem, but if you struggle with the “no” part. From your response, you seem pretty confident about it. Perhaps you had to work up to it or maybe it was natural for you. I often think because we’re socialized so differently (generally speaking) that “no” tends to be harder for women.

          • Hi Emelia!
            Let me focus like a laser. We ALL OWN OUR TIME. Yes, in the earlier days of my business, 2005, I really wanted to launch and work with everyone. I needed to build my brand and thought by talking and meeting with everyone that was the best way. Here’s your sign… WRONG. I attended a lot of meetings, Chamber events, networking events, etc. I was spending a lot of time and money with no ROI. Don’t get me wrong, I’m one of the best networkers/lead referrers to others that I know. That’s not ego, that’s what I’m told by others, as I try to help them. Fast forward, 2011,12,13 I started evaluating very closely where I was spending time and the reality was, some things had to go.
            So now I ask myself, in 15 seconds or less, what is my cost/benefit analysis to do X. If the answer is, No Benefit, then X is out. And generally the best out of an X is to use your new best friend…the word NO. Yes, it is a learned skill, but I respect others time and I don’t accept less from them. No, try it, you’ll like it. Use it respectfully and it will save you a ton of aggravation.
            And(now I’m gonna get it) I don’t buy the male/female myth of vast differences in how they do business;subtleties yes.(Now I’ve said it out loud…Oh My.) Strong business people are just strong business people. I work with C level people each week. Male, female, aliens(just seeing if you’re awake) and I generally just see them working professionaly.
            Two words, aggressive or assertive. They are very different, and you are being assertive when you use NO. You are asserting that you are in control of your time.
            One quick trick. Keep a daily short log for 2 weeks. Write down what you say YES to and what you say NO to. Calculate the approximate cost/savings of both and compare. I believe you will be surprised with the reults and I get 10% of the money you save when you use NO. In fact you can’t afford not to say NO. Let me know how that works out and how fancy my vacation can be with my check for the 10%.
            Best wishes,

        • Wow, Mike, I LOVE that Picasso story, as well as your advice. I’ve always thought I don’t say No frequently enough. Time to start practicing before the going gets tough!

          • Most importantly, if i cannot trust you to say no, I also cannot trust your “yes.” Then I am constantly doing (your adult work) the work of having to “figure out” whether you really meant yes, or just felt obligated. Socially we are heavy on the “shoulds and oughttas” and I can’t tell you how relieved I am when I get to work with somebody I can trust to be clear. I especially have a hard time referring clients because so many “healers” are “too nice” and therefore don’t really help people get clear- which is often half of our illness!
            No is not mean- it is clear. Yes is not nice if it carries resentment. They are simply answers and you can make up big or small stories about either.

        • Katie

          Thanks for that, Mike. I’m so glad you posted, too because I receive similar requests as an interior designer ALL THE TIME. “while you’re here could you take a look at this?” “can you help me with some swatches?” “hey take a look at this photo of my ___ room – what would you do in here to make it x,y,z?” Mike is right, sometimes people have no clue what they’re asking. Asking an untrained BFF for help with paint colors/furniture/lighting/etc while she’s over for coffee and asking a trained professional about them are two totally different things. I’m happy to help but A: I always want to do an awesome/thorough job so I need all the necessary info (which takes valuable TIME), and B: I want to get paid. Doing it any other way doesn’t honor the design process, the client, or the business owner… So why go down that road? Thanks to Marie’s training I’ve become MUCH more comfortable asking to be compensated in these types of situations. And the way I’ve been responding to them is (in a nutshell): “It’s so funny you mention that – I’m actually starting my own business and I’d LOVE to work with a client like you”. They either pause and start asking about fees or they shut right up because they don’t want to pay 🙂

      • Good to know…not that you feel like a d-bag, but that it’s challenging for you as well. You obviously do business with heart. But I’m curious. If you look at say 5 of your male friends, do they have the same difficulty?

    • Akasha

      I agree. Something tells me that a man’s NO is taken much more seriously than a woman’s and that a man’s boundaries around this are respected much more than a woman’s. And while a man could straight up say that he doesn’t have time for it or that they need to pay for it, women have to make the same statement in a fluffier manner or they are called bitches. Too bad we still have to deal with this gendered B.S.

      • I have to wonder if the seriousness it’s taken with, is dependent on how we present it. How firm are we when we say it and are we trying to justify our stance instead of just stating it. It’s a fine line we walk. Yes, much of the world is what we believe it to be, but at the same time there are some very real biases that still exist in today’s society. You speak truth.

        • Hi Emelia and Akasha,

          I agree with what both of you said. I find that, yes, I do get tested more when I set boundaries around not having my brain picked for free and that my boundaries are often tested more IF I am not firm when I say it.

          However, when I am in a foreign country that is more patriarchal, has rigid stereotypes about different nationalities, races and ethnic groups, and other women from my particular racial/ethnic background or even just the local women would willing do it, although it is not something I agree with or would do, I also get tested over and over and over. It’s tiresome.

          The word NO coming from women is, unfortunately, not respected in many parts of the world. I have also found that some women who do not set these boundaries get very angry at those of us who do and often take it out on us. That also is sad, but true.

          But, the more you set and maintain these boundaries in a firm and direct way, the faster you weed out the takers or the ones with gender/racial/etc biases and the faster you can get on with your business!

      • Silvi

        I was at the last NYC Lean In circle (re: Sheryl Sandberg’s book) and they presented a study that showed the perception between a firm, no nonsense man and woman in business (a case study was presented to MBA students, only the name of the protagonist was changed, so one half had a female lead, the other a male). The man in the story was respected by the students but the woman was considered to be a bitch. And this was an opinion formed by MBA students who prided themselves on their gender neutrality! Most people don’t even realize that they do this and that they expect a woman to give a “fluffier” no.

        I have had many times when my polite no in such situations, from both men and women, was repeatedly ignored. After many polite, firm iterations, it got to the point where I had to say it in a very “bitchy”, absolute manner to finally get the point across that my no meant no. It was very frustrating. Luckily this is not the case with everyone, usually the first polite no will suffice. But there are those few who just refuse to take no for an answer. I have found that, aside from the suggestions above (which are great), the best approach with such people is to be really firm and not back down, while throwing in a polite qualifier (like Marie suggested with the Mama time approach) to allow the other party to “save face”. No need to be mean in any way, just no nonsense. If it pisses them off, then good. It serves to clear my life of people who would not respect me, my boundaries or my time. Otherwise, you may find yourself having to say no repeatedly to the same people and becoming exhausted by their boundary trolling, (for the lack of a better word).

        • Silvi,

          You just described exactly some of the experiences I have had and the incorrect stereotypes that are applied to women when we say no. But, a firm no, which pisses off the person who is testing my boundaries and not respecting them — the boundary trolls 🙂 — usually gets them to go away faster and, as you say, clears the space for the good, respectful people to come in!


          • I’m a lawyer. We have to take ‘elimination of bias” classes every year. believe me, women are still treated as bitches if we are aggressive, and men are just aggressive if they are aggressive. (sigh).

          • Hi Mary,

            Yes and it sucks! Someone escalates the issue, doesn’t respect a clearly stated boundary and then call us bitches for letting them know that the boundary we stated does, in fact, exist and that we will not be allowing them to cross it. So they resort to name calling. I’d say “bitch” is one of the nicer ones I’ve heard from the nastiest of the nasty. Unfortunately.

    • Great point! I see it everyday with how differently my husband and I handle business situations. The guilt certainly isn’t an issue for him.

      • Something about your last sentence made me laugh. I could almost hear the “Hell,no” without a second thought.

  7. “If you want people to value your time, you have to put a value on it.” – my biggest takeaway. Great content as usual, Marie!

    I haven’t encountered this problem yet, but if I do I’ll definitely know how to handle it thanks to your scripts!

  8. This is a tough topic but you covered it so well, Marie! I loved all of your answers, and how true! “If you want people to value your time, you have to put a value on it.” I personally try to help everyone even if only with a short redirect. I often ask them to just send me their question over e-mail and I either direct them to the expert who knows more, to a useful article, or to my product.

    I am actually just starting out and have been afraid of reaching out to many people for this same reason – I value their time, I know they value theirs, and right now I can’t afford to hire them, so I’m probably just going to be “handled elegantly”. However, so far the people I’ve contacted have all been very friendly and nice. I also never try to “pick someone’s brain” without offering something in return. That’s just stealing. Instead, I always try to help first. That’s what networking is all about, right?

    Here’s an interesting New York Times article on the very same topic that talks about it a little differently. This guy happens to have been my professor, and I can tell you guys he is awesome.

    • Rebecca Dempster

      Thanks so much for sharing that article, Laura – it’s an incredible read and really inspiring. He seems like an incredible man. I really love the idea that helping people has benefits to both the giver and the receiver.

      • Rebecca, you’re very welcome. He really is an incredible man. He has so many ideas and is always willing to listen and help you out, even if only a little bit.

    • Laura G. Jones – Thanks for the link. The video is hilarious!

      When reaching out to people in different industries, I’ve try to be really clear on why the meeting would be beneficial for both parties and provide value. I’m getting ready to launch a new fashion business that’s unrelated to the social marketing business I currently run. For the meetings that aren’t about partnerships with the contact, I’ve been offering a hour of consulting (if they’d like) for sharing their time with me.

      That said, when people reach out for advice on things that one sells or consults on as part of their business, I love these scripts for giving the contactees some hints.

      • Thank you, Veronika! That’s such a great point. It’s nice to have something unrelated from what you’re asking advice on to draw from when you offer them something in return. Good luck with your fashion business!

    • I love the point you made Laura. In situations where the role is reversed and you want to pick someone’s brain or just reach out to someone you admire/like, it might be best to offer to do something for them for free or just help them out. I find that when people approach me about picking my brain- I’m a lot more open to helping them if I know they’ve helped me out in the past or have been a friend to me. Whilst if they’re someone who just comes out of the blue and wants advice, I’m really hesitant. I think whether you’re the person seeking advice or the person who’s brain is asking to be picked, the key is to value yourself, your time and show mutual respect.

      • Great perspective from the other side, Victoria. It’s true, when I’ve been on the other side I want to see that the person asking me for advice really values my time and is either offering something in return or showing that they will use my advice and work very hard to put it in practice. I’m glad to help many if I know that they will really apply themselves. It makes me feel like I’m not wasting my time.

    • I love that you said you wouldn’t ask to pick someone’s brain without offering something in return. I often reach out to other local life coaches for “coffee” but I ask them for a favor and suggest that I bring an awesome book that they would be into. The reality is that this situation is very much back-and-forth so we are sharing between each other. When I am asking for advice on something (usually my website content), they do the same usually about a month later.

      Definitely going to check out the article!

      • I love that idea, Heidi! Oftentimes I can’t figure out what I could possibly offer in return, but that’s a wonderful idea I might have to steal ;). Absolutely, sometimes you just want to make some friends in the industry, especially when you’re starting out. In a way, I think going through that process of figuring out what you can offer and how to connect with people in a way that won’t feel like you’re just asking is a great exercise. It really forces you to think of what your value is, something many of us don’t think about enough.

    • Yes Laura! LOVE Adam Grant, thanks for sharing that article. As I said in the video, I’m all about being generous with your time and knowledge. Obviously, I’m a giver and it’s something I practice on a daily basis. That being said, this A was to a specific Q from a person who was unsure about what to say when she did not want to do it! xo M

      • Absolutely, Marie. That’s exactly why I said this is a tough topic. You are always so generous and giving. Yet, it’s so good that you supported people in valuing their time and judging whether or not they should always help. Thanks for the comment!

  9. These are awesome scripts, Marie! I haven’t gotten to the place in my coaching business, yet, where a whole bunch of people have started to want to “pick my brain”, but this video is going to be so helpful when they do.

    Alternatively, I’ve never been a “brain picker”. I always feel guilty asking people to teach me things that I know that they charge for. I always try to “pay what I can” if I know I can’t afford what a friend is offering but I still want to support them. Perhaps that’s another way you can feel like you’re helping out a friend (asking them to pay what they can) without totally blowing them off.

    Have fun in Italy, Marie!

  10. Gry

    Love the scripts- as always you are direct and elegant.

    I have a coffee hour every month to meet my dream clients – new and old ones. Great way to connect and to have many coffee-/pick my brain dates at the same time. Its build the community also. I love it and they love it 🙂
    Have a great time in Italy.
    bis, Gry

    • This is a great idea Gry love the monthly pick my brain….I’m going to try that!


      • gry

        thank you Suzie. Let me know how it goes 🙂
        bis, gry

    • I love that Gry! Such a smart way to handle it, and get everyone together at the same time.

      I had my first drinks night with my list in April, and it was amazing to just chat with everyone. It’s also interesting because it’s not like a whole consulting session, so it doesn’t devalue your regular offerings, either.

      • gry

        Drinks are even more fun Nat 🙂
        Yes – its more like a connecting date – I realized many of those who came – later became my dreamclients 🙂 – and those who already was clients was doing the sales for me. WinWin 😉 Love to see you next time in NYC 🙂 bis, gry

        • I love the fun interaction that “drinks night” gives… Lovely concept Nathalie and Gry!!!

          And with all the other comments… Love the options Marie, also love the “buy me coffee” rate – which takes a lot of the awkwardness off the table.

          I have battled with the question, and especially when I started off with my photography… But a line has to be drawn somewhere – or you’ll work for free forever.

    • This is a great idea to have it once a month as a way to build your community. I like that!

    • This is a great idea for business building. Inviting a friend for a cup of sharing may just expose a dream client who tags along for the ride! You’ve also provided a limited time on your schedule but prioritized your availability. I love the expectation that others should come prepared to share their own brain power.

    • Also a fantastic idea. Even as a coach, you could do this as a tele-conference or tele-meeting!

      • gry

        Yes – thats a great idea Heidi. Open pick-our brain dates 🙂
        I have now monthly webinars but we have a topic.
        Pick my brain for free sounds fun – and a great way to build community.
        thank you, Gry

    • Gry, that’s a really great way to handle it.

      It seems like a great way for people to value what you do and feel like you are giving to them unselfishly.

      I love it!

      • gry

        Thank you Maia. I must admit its not totally unselfishly. I just love meeting new people and we are building the “new” community in Norway. Since I am only in Norway once in a while I do coffee meeting in the town I am visiting 🙂 New friends and coffee dates are fantastic. Next time in NYC I hope 🙂
        bis, gry

    • I love that idea, Gry! And you could totally do this over a webinar to give people a great way to see what coaching with you would really feel like! Fantastic!

    • Gry –
      Monthly coffee hour is a great idea! What a great way to connect with others, share information, and build relationships.
      – Carolyn

  11. Marianne P.

    Excellent advice! I’m going to apply your suggestions pronto!

  12. I ABSOLUTELY ask people if I can pick their brain ALL THE TIME! I’ve never been flat out rejected. Just no response e-mail or we have a quick chat. I’ve found that when I position it as “I am doing an interview for my BLOG” — an opportunity for them to get free advertising — suddenly the people who used to just not respond to me respond quickly!

    P.S. Your hair and make up are on point today, Marie ;D

    • Also, a really good idea!
      I’ll keep this in mind as well 🙂
      Thanks for sharing.

  13. Script #1 is genius. You’re politely saying no, asking for the sale (without asking for it), and still offering an answer to a quick question (to show them you care). Nice!

    • Absolutely agree Derek, you took the words right out of my mouth!

      You look fab too Marie!

  14. This is so funny because I not only get asked for my brain to be picked but they ask exactly what my program does LOL. I’ve been blessed to get a lot of media. Today my blog goes live on AOL and on Thursday it will be on the homepage. So people will ask how can I pitch the media? That is so funny because I created a product that tells them exactly how to do that with all the secrets I’ve learned just like you said.

    But I my favorite answer / script you offered “I’m not available for lunch but you should grab_________ it’s all my best thinking in one place. What I love about this is you are telling them exactly where to get the answers.

    Enjoy your tip to Italy 🙂 My friend was just in Europe the other day and I can’t wait to go. Send lots of pics to your FB page I know everyone would love to see them.
    Love today’s video.

  15. Woman – you nailed it! I get these requests ALL the time and my husband just commented on how I seem to make myself available to everyone and their mother when they need advice. It will be interesting to see how I introduce the new language, especially with folks that I have spoiled in the past. Thanks Marie – great video! Jasna

  16. Jorg

    You’re coming over to good old Europe?! Awesome!
    We could get together, have a coffee…and I could pick your brain.
    Just kiddin’! 😉
    Have an awsome trip!

  17. You look like a freakin’ supermodel in this one, Marie! If you were single, men would be lining up to ‘pick your brain’ (ie. a bad excuse for taking you out on date). 😉

  18. My brain has holes in it lately from all of the picking.

    LOVE the Mama comment, Marie. I think I’ll sub in “my kids.” :/

  19. Omg. Awesome. Ppl do that to me! One of my services is angel readings and some ppl just want to ‘ask’ a question, which leads to more questions. Orrrr they say… If the angels have anything to tell me could you let me know? I would get annoyed thinking really? But, lesson learned! Thnx Marie!

  20. Having been one of those people who have asked for support before, I place a real value on the sharing of knowledge and network where possible. I have an unofficial time slot allocated for this each week so I can feel like I’m able to act as mentor and “pay my dues” as well as valuing my own time….

    The best ‘no’ responses I’ve had have been those where an alternative is offered rather than a flat-out refusal so I try and stick to this principle.

  21. Thanks Marie & Team! Fantastic post. I’ve been victim of this so much lately. If it’s not people wanting to network, I am also getting bombard with clients saying ‘I just wanted to ask a quick question – just 5 minutes’…..and hour later I’m still trying to get them off the phone. I don’t charge them for my time, but I know I should. This will help getting me across this herdal. My new line will be ‘I can’t chat right now, but let’s schedule a consultation time so I can give you my full attention.’

    • Anne, that’s great. Thanks for sharing your new line. That, along with #1 script of Marie’s, has gone in my notebook for the next person who wants coffee (or worse, calls out of the blue “for a chat”). Thank you!

  22. Thanks, Marie! This has been an issue for me, and a frustrating one at that! Your scripts make it so simple to kindly address those asking to pick one’s brain. 🙂

  23. Marie, this is a beautiful and respectful way to handle this situation. Thank you. What I noticed is YOU have to value yourself and YOUR time first before anyone else can. Namaste.

  24. Rosa

    I have had this to happen to me a lot. I have had accounting firms to call me for an interview about a job they said they had just to pick my brain about Quickbook and how to do make special spreadsheets for clients. I have never received a job from these places.

    I also had a Town office to call me in for an intereview and they said they had this spreadsheet that needed to be fix and could I fix it to see if I could do the job. I did fix the spreadsheet and I did not receive the job.

    How about they let you go on a job because you don’t know what you are doing and hire someone at a cheaper rate and turn around and say to you. “Could you show her how to do the job but I was thinking didn’t you tell me I no longer have a job because I do not know what I am doing.

  25. There’s a bunch of d-bags out there who love to yell at me…


    You bet your buns this made me smile this morning :O)

  26. Ty

    Thanks for this great insight. Girl, you so crazy! Totally diggin it. Great work. Peace and Light. Be well.

  27. Thank you for this one Marie, was a funny one and I love the Mama tip!!:)) I will totally use that one!!

    Have an awesome day!:))

  28. I almost spit out my coffee on script number 2…. but this scenario is very top of mind for me lately.

    Setting boundaries, being compassionately honest in my communications…

    I think it’s the nature of business and growth to have people asking for help – and I think it’s okay to do a bit of this when you’re first starting, but at some point, you just gotta knock it off. (And this is what I’ve had to tell myself!)

    I’m loving that first script which really feels caring and honest all at once. I’m using it Marie – thank you!

  29. Because of the nature of my work, I constantly get asked to “just toss a couple of cards” or to “just grab a coffee/drink”. That coffee or drink ALWAYS turns into me “working” or giving them business/life advice – there is NEVER anything social about it and they never really want to hang out with me as a friend. I know that because they ask nothing about my personal life, only about my work or “my opinion/vibe/take” on their situation.

    Because this has happened to me so much over the years, I rarely socialize and I turn down 98% of invites to “lunch/coffee/drinks” because I know what’s coming. I’ve become good at the “no” and the blow off. I hate it but I hate being taken advantage of even more.

    Lately, I’ve had a new rash of strangers contacting me via email to ask me “my opinion” about the cards they just tossed for themselves. Translation: work for free. Those emails get ignored. I could never imagine pulling a stunt like that to anyone!

    Thanks for the video + advice, Marie. Much needed for us working women who don’t have time for this sort of game.

    • Akasha

      Hi Theresa,

      I’m with you on this and, although I really am a loner by nature, I sometimes feel a little lonely because I can’t seem to just have a normal conversation with someone without them trying to get advice or information out of me. I wasn’t offering any kind of paid service before, but since I’ve gotten so many people coming at me with this sort of thing, I just set up a website and, when they pay in advance and make an appointment in advance, I will give them professional consultations.

      I’m also not keen on directing them to websites and blogs because I’ve spent a lot of time sorting through and researching a lot of topics in order to narrow down to the best sources of information out there. This is NOT an easy job and so I now offer an ecourse on how to find out anything you want to know quickly and easily or they can book an hour with me to talk about that topic.

      This takes my resentment level down several notches.

      Thanks from me to Marie, too, because these videos are always dead-on accurate.


  30. Thank you so much, Marie! I get requests like this all the time and have never found a great way to deal with them so thanks so much for this video- yay! In one way I feel blessed to get them but in another way it’s a huge drain and those not in biz for themselves (yet) don’t quite understand how much time is truly worth to us. Sincerely, Sarah

  31. Marie…this is such an awesome video!!!!! It is so helpful.

    Ladies…but your heart first and don’t be afraid to speak it!

    Enjoy your Italian Holiday Marie 🙂

  32. Erica Diamond

    I talked about this very topic yesterday and here is my script. 😉


  33. Thank you! I get asked to meet with people ALL the time, or get loads of emails asking to “pick my brain.” I’ve given away SO much information and spent SO much time doing this–it’s incredibly frustrating and takes time away from my work! These scripts will really help. Thank you!

    One of the things I did on my previous blog (before I re-branded thanks to B-School) was to do a post every so often where readers could “submit” a question that I would answer on my blog. This limited the time I spent with each person, and gave me blog content. I do this now with my newsletter instead!

    Have a blast in Italy!!!

  34. Christiana

    Sorry, but I feel as if this is very shallow. As someone who is junior in my field, I think that people too often do not share their time. People thrive off connecting with others, and it’s how so many people can achieve success and happiness. Someone very senior in an organization that I truly respect said yes to meeting with me today, and I will always remember that. I think your video lacks grace, and it’s not the type of professional style that I would like to follow. I am unsubscribing because I believe in connecting. I believe in saying yes. You don’t need to meet with someone, but you can find another way to help them. Your approach seemed so focused on getting their money or asking what in return they can do for you. When you need to say no, I believe in doing it with a bit more respect and awareness that everyone need to start somewhere.

    • Court

      While I agree with you to some point, Marie (and other people here) must have reached a limit where they simply could not spare another moment. My current situation is not about ‘picking my brain’ but rather friends asking me to hang out with them, or asking me to draw pictures for them (for free! – so it kind of applies). I’m working two jobs and a side art project and focusing on exercise and eating more healthfully, and I hardly have anytime to myself, let alone my friends. Right now I don’t even have the time for my friends because I’m focusing on growing as a person. I’m going out of my way to make time for people, and sometimes it sets me behind in schedule. I don’t want to feel this way, but I think Marie is right here. I’ve been too worried about what my friends will think if I don’t have time for them, instead of just worrying on what is important to me (my real friends will be my friends forever and understand my current situation). And like Marie, I don’t have time for time-wasters (assuming that she probably get’s a lot of ‘coffee’ people who end up wasting her valuable time – think about it, she probably wants to spend that little extra time with her family, not a stranger/acquaintance/someone looking for free advice).

    • Marie-Pier

      I think Marie was referring to those times when the other person is not very respectful and just takes and takes…

      When you asked to meet your senior colleague, it’s clear you valued what she offered you, and I’m sure she could feel it. So there was an exchange. But sometimes, there’s just no exchange, and it doesn’t feel very good.

      I think it’s more about the energy and intention behind the asking than the asking itself. If you stay around a little longer, you’ll see Marie is all about generosity.


    • Abril

      You will understand when you get success…
      Somedays I don’t want to open my email because of ton of people sharing their problems and asking me for “advice”… (free advice).
      And I share free content to help them. But they are asking (sometimes demanding) for my time, or weekends!
      I have done it, and believe me they are not gratefull when you help them (for example, just “for free”: I got media interviews for them, they got media exposure and new clients, but they didn’t thank me for that. Not even a word).
      So, sorry, but as I see it… is not my “obligation” nor “moral responsability” to connect with a junior who have nothing to contribute, that doesn’t recognize your help when it led them to success, or is not even willing to respect your opinions.

      PS: I know my english grammar is awful.

  35. Yes! Now that my fashion line is taking off, as I post our accomplishments on FB, everyone IS totally coming out of the woodwork, especially those that want to start a line one day.
    Fortunately, I will also be starting a Fashion Mastermind so I turn it around and ask them what do they want to learn most!

  36. I help psychologists and therapists market their private practices. I used to have phone calls that lasted forever with me giving a bunch of free advice. I also had someone call and say they wanted help with their online marketing and what would I do and what would it cost.

    In February, I implemented two things that not only cut down on the amount of time I spent giving free advice but that also improved my bottom line. This is MUCH, MUCH easier and MUCH more profitable!

    1) I have a Let’s Talk function on my site. They get 30 mins free — and they see that consults beyond that cost money. You can see how it works, here:

    2) I have an offering now which is a Marketing Analysis. If it’s clear in the initial phone call that the potential client would benefit from me analyzing their current marketing and suggesting a plan of action, I now get PAID to do that. It’s huge value for them, I get paid for my time, and the reviews are raving. We come out of it with a game plan for how I can help them and where they can get other help, too. Win-win!

    Thanks for addressing this topic. It is a huge problem for many folks who become successful!


  37. Great video as usual! Thank you for this- i have just begun life coaching and all these themes around my time and value keep coming up! i had some difficulty putting a price on my sessions with my first client and luckily my mentor encouraged me to really think about what i was giving away for free. i feel this all comes down to self worth and in the end- money is simply energy which is exchanged for a service. when i think about money as energy, it is easier to deal with feeling like a “d-bag!”

  38. Hi Marie, fun video and great advice! My usual approach is to tell people that I don’t have time to meet them for coffee (unless I really want to do it) because it ends up taking a couple of hours but we can set up 10 or 15 minutes to talk by phone. I find that if I can find a way to help others they often will go out of their way to help me too and it all comes back around and becomes a continuous loop of service (at least sometimes).

  39. Jutta

    Best ever!

  40. We learn the hard way…
    This seems to be a common trap for Coaches.
    Consider Dentists, Doctors and Lawyers. They charge in 6 minute slots. What’s the difference really between their service and Coaching, for example?
    Valuing your time is a bit “old” for me. I wrote about valuing your timelessness which is WAY more precious (and also, time doesn’t actually exist)!

  41. This is such a great video. As people learn about my work, they come to me with all sorts of problems and questions that I try my best to answer, but I’m seriously losing my mind. Not only do they have personal issues that they want advice on, but many just want to be friends and I can’t keep track of everyone. Plus all of the various outlets to contact me… FB, Email, Twitter, etc. It’s nuts! Being single while trying to fit all of these people and tasks into my schedule makes life even more insane! I wish I knew of an app that could track the people I owe a reply to.

  42. This is such an important topic, and I love how you addressed it Marie! Your scripts are spot on, and I love the mama one.

    I’ve been using my upcoming “visiting my parents” trip as a reason not to schedule things while I’m gone (obviously), but it’s also a good idea to remember to prioritize close family and friends when putting your schedule together.

    Thanks so much – and I also just rewatched the video on how to gently turn down requests for promotions. You’re so classy, I love it!

  43. Love this. Thank you so much. I’ve had to say no a lot lately with people saying, “I just have this quick question, we’re friends…” and then they ask. I’ve had to set clear firm boundaries and tell them if they have questions, to sign up for a consultation and then state the fee and a link to my schedule. I’ve done it in a nice way, but people have been quite surprised and think I’m supposed to just hand over stuff because I’m their friend or family member. I’ve even included in my marketing about “picking my brain” as part of one of my packages because it seems to be the thing people most want from me. Thanks so much. Makes me realize I’m doing the right thing.

  44. Kelly

    Fantastic scripts for an all-too-familiar time-taker. That said, I live in a very supportive business community where it is a cultural norm for busy and successful people to make time for up and comers to allow them to “pick their brain.” They do it because others ahead of them did it to enable their success, so I must admit it is hard to turn down requests of me when so many others have granted me their time and advice…

  45. If it’s “friends”, I don’t mind – it’s usually a give and take.

  46. Ah, this is so freaking timely. I launched a new offering yesterday, and it’s an all day affair. I’m doing a name your price thing right now, and I had originally planned to up it to $500 when the sale ends, but I’m nervous that it’s out of the price range that most of my tribe can afford. On the other hand, it’s about leadership and for extravagantly ambitious women, so there’s a voice in my head that’s reasoning that this is an investment in their future and will lead them to make more money. Gah. But I’m wavering and praying and I feel like I keep getting signs (like this video) that I need to own the worth that I offer.

    Thanks for this, Marie. The video was about picking my brain – and my brain is working through something slightly different, but still, you’ve given me a LOT to think about!

  47. Well, first Miss Marie, You look so damn HOT! 😉
    Loving your dress ~ you just look stunning 😉

    As for ‘picking brain’
    I would say…. “I would love to but I can’t anytime soon, But would you like to book a consultation for next week?”

    ~ you’re showing interest and being sincere, and mentioning ‘consultation’ you say you’re about business!
    Then whatever they answer will tell you if they just wanted a freebie or a real advice they would want to pay for.

    I do want to say though that if you’re just starting out, freebie conversations are great though as they build your confidence and polish your skills and delivery. So, don’t feel bad about a few coffee dates when you’re starting out – use them as learning curves for when you’re ready to go the next level.

    xo Ella

    • Miley

      I’m in agreement with the last paragraph, Ella. You said it just right. 🙂
      Since, I’m just starting out producing videos for other business owners, it really helps a lot when someone wants to “pick my brain.” It adds to my confidence level.

      Thanks Marie for the scripts. I might be needing them in the near future. 🙂

      P.S. Marie, I want your dress.

  48. Loved this! I enjoy your spunky spirit and helpful tips for having a better business life — one that is fun and that I love and feel energized by. My biggest challenge is sharing time and knowledge and wanting to do that, without giving away hours of details. I just spent eight hours researching and writing out a detailed plan for a “potential client” who took my written work and has not replied with even a thank you. I have been in business for almost twenty years in my field, and couldn’t believe I let this happen. Having a high level of trust and mutual respect is so common in my world, that this kind of behavior side-swipes me professionally and emotionally. I would definitely use the “be glad to help you, here’s my consultation fee” approach going forward, as I never want to be in this place again. Sad stuff on the other side for using someone, but my bad for letting it happen. Thanks for a timely and inspiring post! Onward.

  49. Such great advice Marie. So tasteful and assertive. Love it! I would also add: “if you really want to know how I created a successful business sign up for B School”. 😉
    Brain pickers can seem so needy and they can really suck the energy out of you.
    You have to do the work yourself to be successful, no shortcuts.
    Love this episode!
    Have a great trip to Italia!

  50. @presensing

    Great episode, Marie! Loved all the scripts.

    Those who may not have a program in place yet could offer to send the person a client intake form, so they get specific on what they want from you and if they’re not ready to invest, you guide them on to your for-free content until they’re ready. Or perhaps you’d like to create a webinar/teleseminar which should address their Qs and also help your marketing anyway? Or maybe they’d be open to joining a group coaching program you offer in the future? Or if they’re really serious, offer a private half-day VIP session. But all of this requires they have skin in the game = make the investment or else they don’t implement much anyway.

    Patty Soffer’s blog expands on this: she reveals the brain-picking code language and the triggers that guide us along the slippery slope of yay-saying. Recommend for those who have trouble saying NO:

  51. Ti ringraizo Maria! I really needed this! I get asked a lot of “how tos” on my Facebook page. Often I’ll say to the person “GREAT question! How about I write a blog post about that. Watch for it!”

    Tuo vestito e favoloso! Enjoy Italy – I lived in Rome for many many years!

    Buon viaggo


  52. Love the tweetable and also the tip on “….time for mama….” ; great ways to positively communicate….

  53. Having been a blogger for 6 years now, people are CONSTANTLY asking me how to start one, asking me for tips, etc.
    Haha, it gets to the point where I feel like I should create an online course about it! LOL!

    • @presensing

      You probably should, Diana! You seem to have a niche already carved out for you. I can point you to some great resources if you really want to get into action with that, as you could definitely open a new income stream for yourself if you create that product/service. 🙂

  54. Awesome video. I’ve been the one that’s asked for professional advice and I was aware that it was an exchange. I asked for advice while applying for a job. Essentially I said, “If a job is not available right now, I’d love to meet with you to get a better understanding of the industry.” I did this because I heard so much about this company and wanted to meet the owner and learn her story. The business was a barre fitness boutique, so I knew that actually attending a class would better my chances of getting that meeting. So I think if you’re asking for a meeting, you have to give something back to them in some way. There seems to be a lot of blanket advice out there that just says to “network” without really explaining that it has to be an exchange, so thank you, Marie, for this helpful video!

  55. I needed to be reminded of this time, so very timely Marie! thanks

  56. Marie, great scripts!

    I used to have such a difficult time with this issue. I’d skip around and mumble. Not very effective, eh?

    Sure wish I had your knowledge then 🙂

    I help people get un-stuck so that they can achieve their goals – without struggle.

    What amazes me is that many people ask me questions about how to market their business. I gently mention that I’m still learning and that there are free resources (and college courses) that they can take advantage of.

    Of course, if someone is asking me a simple question, if I can’t answer it, I’ll direct them to someone who can.

    • That’s interesting. Do you know of college classes that teach ‘online’ marketing?

      • @presensing

        Marie’s B-school does. No college required, you can learn at your own pace and connect to a community of people with that focus. And there are plenty of other programs available as well, if you need a different modality.

  57. Marie, you hit the nail on the head and made me laugh 🙂 Being a successful hoop dancer has my email email flooded with requests for advice, brain picking, etc…so I created a “Pick Sarah’s brain consultation” which people will pay for if they are serious. It also keeps the mooches away.

    • Akasha

      Great ideas. I’m going to offer a Brain Picking Session and direct them there. Sounds very effective!

  58. bob kiely

    Hi Marie,
    Firstly enjoy your trip to Italy; it’s one of my favorites destinations.

    Re. your question, I think you offered several diplomatic ways to answer the dilemma in a manner that is not too brusk, but gets the point across “that you would love to, but simply don’t have the time.” I think any reasonable person would understand that.

    I was once was the GM of a winery and was constantly asked if we could supply local community groups with free wine for their events for the “good will.” My response was that if we extended this to you “gratis,” I’d be forced to do the same for all others, and wouldn’t be around long to offer wine even to our paying customers.

    Unless you’re in the arts or are a creative type, many people simply don’t understand or value “intellectual property.”

  59. Great video Marie! Confession: I am a Brain Picker!! I’m just starting out and if there is a smart, successful person out there that I think has some knowledge that can help, I ask for it. And this goes for well-known people at the top of their fields. Here’s how I do it while trying to be classy and respectful:
    1. Before approaching these people I usually have already used one of their products (free or paid).
    2. I do not ask for coffee or anything that requires too much of a time commitment.
    3. I send an email with a compliment or testimonial of how their work has already helped me followed by a super specific question that I want answered.
    4. I follow up to let them know how I’ve used their advice/answer and how it has helped.

    So far I have never been rejected (in a nice way or not!). I think it works because the time it would take to reject me in a nice way is probably more than it would to answer my question. Bonus: Some of my testimonials have been used to market more products by my favorite gurus. Win-win!

  60. Hey, am I the only dude here? Fellas, where you at?

    Okay all jokes aside, this is a topic that I have ALWAYS struggled with. I mean, seriously–always. I’m a notorious people pleaser, and now that things with my blog are starting to take off a little bit, I’m getting more and more requests to connect over the phone, for coffee, etc (and believe me I’m not complaining, it’s better than no one giving a damn about me). The scripts are awesome, and the “Brain Picker” concept is brilliant. As a people pleaser, it’s going to be tough for me at first, because I would feel like crap if I knew that I ever hurt someone’s feelings (I was told that I was born with the “empathy gene on steriods”) but I’m definitely going to give each script the ol’ college try. Thanks Marie, you are awesome!

  61. I literally woke up to an email from a random person wanting to get into the juicing business who is asking me for my “advice”. This couldn’t have been more timely for me. Thank you!!!

  62. Liza Dunkel

    Hey Marie! A conflict of information? One of the things you taught us in Bschool is that we should/must brainpick, network, socialize with people, famous, accomplished people, to get ideas, inspiration, information to help us build our own businesses. So you taught us to go for it, and said how accessible these people would be.. and here, you’re telling us/them how to charge us for it. Hmmm…there’s got to be a fine line here of when its appropriate and when not. Please address this seeming conflict in your message to us. Love you!

    • Hi Liza! Nope, no conflict of information. Here’s why.

      1. I’m a huge giver and I invite the world to pick my brain every week, for free, with MarieTV. If you haven’t noticed, I’ve been putting out free, high quality videos with 100% free advice every single week for 2.5 years and we’re not stopping anytime soon.

      2. I regularly offer ideas, advice and have done multi-hour strategy sessions in person for free, just to be helpful. I give away my best ideas, connections and resources to others I feel I can serve and I do this on a continuous and ongoing basis outside of what you see here on MarieTV.
      This is my life and how I live it.

      3. The format of this episode of MarieTV is Q&A. I answer a reader question that I find interesting and that I believe others can relate to as well. THIS READER does not want to have her brain picked but she has trouble saying no. So my answer is for HER, not for me.

      It’s also for other people that are at a loss for words on how to handle requests like this when THEY really want to say no.

      Just because I answer a question and offer possible ideas on how to gracefully and lovingly language a sticky situation does not mean that I’M in that situation myself, nor what I need to practice on a day to day basis.

  63. OOh great video! As I am a freelance marketing consultant and have my own successful blog I am constantly asked by companies and brands to have coffee and share my opinion on their projects… They drive me crazy! Everytime I tell them to book it as my customer they get offended and never contact me anymore.

  64. Thank you! Excellent advice and funny too!

  65. Josh

    Wow. Thank you for clarifying a problem I was only vaguely aware of having. I`ve definitely been feeling spun out by coffee requests, and this has made it beatifully clear about the need for a crisp boundary.
    Thank you!

  66. Love this! I try to funnel requests like this to an “open office hour,” where I spend 1 hour 1 day a week answering questions (10 minute calls) for free. I also make sure everyone reads resources I already have available about their project before calling.

  67. Your videos are getting better every time!! I just love them!! and the advice you give is incredible Marie. Always something to learn, such brilliant advice. Keep them coming, you crack me up, such a joy to watch x

  68. I so-o needed to hear this. If I let everyone pick my brain who wanted to – I’d have no brain. I’ve been toying with creating some training material for people in my industry. This took me over the edge.

  69. I’ll be honest–I was graciously allowed some brain picks when stepping into a couple of completely new projects. Some wanted payment, which I totally respected. Others didn’t, however, I returned the favor through finding out what my “brains” needed to expand their awesome endeavors and put them in contact with people I knew that could help.

    I just finished Jon Acuff’s book, Start (which I HIGHLY recommend by the way–it’s practical and hilarious), and in it he talks about “Guiding.” However, the way that we guide is different for everyone–I think creating an FAQ or pointing to relevant content totally counts! Jon guides new writers by reserving a lunch spot every Friday to pour into them. This means if someone wants to meet with him, they have 52 chances per year. It’s time he guards but it’s set aside so it doesn’t eat up other time he needs. Just adding in that note to those who still feel compelled to meet with others that are just starting out.

  70. I really appreciate this lesson as a consultant. I love the 50-50 relationships I have but my huge desire to give resources to others can sometimes be my downfall. I like that I can have foster awareness now with these pick your brain red flags, which you discussed! I have to ask though, is it ever ok to be direct with people and call them out on brain picking?

  71. mimi

    I run a photography business and have ‘friends’ asking me business information and it gets tough to separate or draw the line. I’ve offended some by just simply giving them my sorry but ‘no comment’ schpeal. However, at the end of the day I prefer that to later feeling eaten up about whether I shared too much. If it’s a two way street, mind you, then I’m happy to share and collaborate. If the person is someone whose opinion I trust, and they too offer up ideas and contribute to our mutual learning and development then I am all for it. I have a handful of select business confidants that I will occasionally meet with and vent to, and vice versa. Those relationships are great and definitely hard to come by though, so it’s important to know who to trust to be on your side, versus who is out to drain you.

  72. This was such a helpful video!!! I get these questions ALL the time. More so either someone I went to high school with (not really a friend, just an acquaintance.. thanks facebook messaging) or someone emailing asking a “quick question.” I always feel guilty not replying, but lately I have been replying with a link to a blog or “that’s a great topic.. I will write a blog on that soon.” Because if people are asking, then it’s something I should have info on, and it actually turns out to inspire a blog topic! I’m never at a loss for things to write about and this is how I get my ideas.

    Also, Marie, your hair looks gorgeous in this video 🙂

  73. Love the GLAM Marie! “People are always grateful for an honest answer.” Thanks for that fresh perspective. Honesty is the best policy. Plus asking questions to help them be clear about what they really want.

  74. Cathy

    Thanks for letting your brain flow through these Q&As. (That’s my main message.)

    I look forward to needing these tools myself. Ironically yesterday I invited soemone out to do exactly that! Ah well – she was trying to pay me back for lots of volunteer work that I did for her. So there was a value exchange. I do have a growing base of knowledge professionals in my life so I appreciate your thoughts. AS ALWAYS!!

  75. Sara

    Great video – Thank you Marie.
    Looks like it’s a universal issue for all entrepreneurs both traditional business people and the new wave of spiritual teachers.

    Another common problem I often have related to this topic is when I connect with someone who actually offers products and they immediately flood me with messages offering their services, pressuring to make a payment and to schedule an appointment for a session.
    For most of us it is hard to say no to someone but it’s the only response; especially if within few minutes of our conversation I receive an e-mail with payment request when I didn’t even have time to familiarise myself well with what they do…

  76. Brain pickers do need some love every now and then, we gotta help our sisters out. i get this request all of the time, so we started monthly networking mixers and direct all brain pickers to attend that. Not only can they pick my brain, but the brains of the other smarty pants ladies there! Value for them, freed time for me. 😉

  77. Thanks again Marie for making it real! You always know how to hit the right pain point…
    I’ve had this problem and never knew how to handle it without coming off like “I’m too busy and important for you yo!”
    I’m going to try the “mama visit” line that’s awesome cos it’s sooooo true!

  78. Erica

    Spot on Marie!! I just read an article in Entreprenuer Magazine titled “Don’t be an askhole.” The article touched on this very topic. In both cases the content was just what I needed. I’m not getting request to pick my brain but more on the networking side. I’m just getting started on my entrepreneurial endeavors and didn’t want to come off as a Jerk or miss an “Opportunity” which is why I’ve found myself accepting offers for coffee etc. I’m feeling overwhelmed trying to get my projects off the ground and saying no for request of my time. I Certainly will be using the “Mama Script”. Thanks!

    Enjoy your vacation,


  79. Just what I needed to hear! Thanks for the awesome ideas and advice on how to weed out the users!

  80. So what the heck does evviva mean? When I googled it, two Italian resturants came up as well as a crossfit gym.

  81. Drew

    Marie Marie MARIE!!

    I am SOOO here right now! YOU are my divine intervention! I am expanding my mentoring/coaching and writing practice. (I’m a B-Schooler Grad btw!) 😉 And since walking on to the scene and having some pretty awesome successes with the clients I have,.. YOU COULDN’T BE ANYMORE RIGHT: People are coming out of the woodwork! People want to sit down with me and pick my brain! I feel badly and a little slighted that some feel they can just ask me and I’ll “solve” problems for them! Ive done this once with a really good result, in that a friend who “asked” me and I told her,. “you know I get paid to coach”… she did end up compensating me… BUT I like your scripts!

    Its going to take some real courage on my part to put in the elegant, yet professional way that you have. I’m getting hit from all over with my community seeing me online, reading my blog posts and seeing results in clients. So I’m going to have to grow a pair, and put first that my service is of VALUE. GREAT GREAT tips… ODDLY–I’m going to “coffee with a friend” tonight and looks as though I’m going to have to step up, and use this “sign” as a challenge to get to a breakthrough! Timing right here?? I think so…

    Wow– its a Universal smack down this morning! I’ll keep you posted!
    Puttin’ B-School to work! Love,

  82. Iviana

    What a tough topic Marie but you sure preached it girl! This has been the newest issue that I’ve been having. Unfortunately, I’ve gotten suckered into taking time out to answer their questions. I honestly didn’t know that it was an issue! Now that I realize it is, I notice how much time I’ve been taking and not getting paid for it. This really is a tough one for me and I believe in being a giver. The analogy about going to a store and stealing clothes nailed it for me though!

  83. What a fascinating topic! I do spend a lot of time allowing my brain to be picked, but mostly because I have a strong faith in the karma of good deeds. I’m at a point in my career (read: Old Guy) that answering a question or two for someone doesn’t really take very long. And often, I can provide value to someone in a way that they’ll remember later.

    I often find that when people want to “talk to me” about a subject, it’s their way of finding out if I actually know my stuff, if I’m someone they’ll feel comfortable working with, if I have a similar view of the issues and challenges they’re facing. Kind of like a “first date over coffee”.

    And the kind of work that I do isn’t anything that I can “accidentally give them” in a ten minute conversation. In fact, in ten minutes I can make life a living hell for my competitors — by providing a potential client with some penetrating questions to ask.

    Plus, I REALLY like coffee. Grande Soy No-Whip Mocha, please.

  84. Marie… How do you do, that voodoo, that you do, so well? Wonderful suggestions — thank you for the scripts!

    There is this one girl (she works with a close friend of mine so I see her 2-3 times/month) and she wants me to tell her “everything I’m learning in…” B-School and in my Feng Shui certification courses and I just want to say, “Girl, I’m spending all my hard earned cash on learnin’ this stuff… I can’t just give it away for free!” What I end up saying is something clumsy like, “I don’t even know what I’m doing yet so I can’t exactly teach you the stuff.”

    But that excuse is weak (and makes me *sound* weak too) — because as I feel myself getting better and stronger and more confident with what I’m learning, I want to own it and be more honest with her.

    So thank you for helping me improve my business and my life, yet again, Marie! x

  85. Great topic! I live by the rule…give to the universe of “value” and it will give back. IF I decide it is in my best interest I’ll meet someone (like Marie says you can’t meet everyone) and give them a nugget of what they are looking for and then I ask them if they would do me the same. Usually the smart ones “get it”. I ONLY meet with people that can GIVE VALUE in return and that I can benefit from as well. You never know when you will need that person’s value down the road…it has served me well.

  86. Michael

    I love the people that want to “buy me a cup of coffee”.

    Really? You want me to spend an hour telling you everything that took me years of trial and error to learn at an expense of hundreds of thousands of dollars, and you want me to do all this because you are going to “buy me a cup of coffee?”

    So you think an hour of my time is worth $5.00? Really?

    • Akasha

      That’s exactly what I think!

  87. I am so putting the “If they want to pick your brain, ask them to pick a time and method of payment” in a frame! As an active networker, I’ve gotten stuck on so many of these brain picking sessions in the past (but I’m getting better). Thanks for the great scripts and thoughts so I can finally eliminate them altogether!

  88. Oh how this video is needed, Marie! During my “recovering publicist” days, I often was asked to “pick my brain” or to just help out a “new” artist and they’d pay me later. When I would respond “Would you go into a store, grab a dress/shirt and say I’ll pay you later?”, many understood what I was saying.

    Currently, I try to mentor a couple food bloggers a year to help set them on their course, much like I would do for music artists back in the day. I absolutely understood the “just starting out” bit and I had two fabulous mentors who also helped set me on my course when I first started out. I look at it as paying it forward. However, those extra requests to “pick my brain” or those that want me to “help” with their PR – well, let’s just say, they get the polite but firm “momma” script.

    Fantastic Q&A Tuesday Marie and have a blast in Italy!

  89. Great topic! I am an author and psychic medium. When people I don’t know well ask me for free information, I hand them a business card and suggest they schedule a consultation. My friends are very respectful because I have shared stories with them about how exhausting it is to be constantly asked for free information by others.

  90. Great video. I get a lot of people who do this before becoming a client. For example, they are interested in getting a website built or logo design and as a result I feel like I’m giving free coaching just trying to get win the project. I wonder if there is a polite way to minimize that.

    Thank you,

  91. michela

    hi Marie, If it is not a joke that you are coming to Italy I am from Livorno (Toscana) should you need anything or if you are curious about doing something non tourist-like I am here ! ciao Michela – ps you rock!

    • Dora G.

      I live in Italy too (San Remo). How about a coffee without brain picking? 🙂

  92. Thanks so much for this episode Marie! wow this will save me a lot of time, love it.

  93. Great advice Marie!
    Beautiful dress bella!!
    I’ve been at the other end of itand later my friend asked for a testimonial on her consulting style, which I was happy to give. It really was mostly coffee and a chat and if a lot of your friends are businessy then brain picking will come up!
    Have a happy holiday x

  94. Awesome video. I loved the “Momma Script.” And I need to say… Marie girl you got it going on! The hair… Fabulous. Dress… Oh la la! Werq it girl!

  95. Ok, I LOVE the MAMMA line. That is absolutely brilliant. I don’t want to sound like a d-bag 🙂

  96. Yikes…I just did this to someone who graciously gave me her time. I feel like a DBag (yep, I know what that means and I hate that I was one…). I’m going to remedy that today. Thanks for the whack on the side of the head, Marie!


  97. I don’t meet for coffee unless it is mutually beneficial. I don’t sell products that help people start a business, so there is nothing for me to refer people to. Its just me and my website/store.

    I will throw nuggets and those who want to catch, benefit.

  98. Loved this one and needed it!

  99. I’m at the beginning stages of my business. I’m putting myself out there, working hard, and getting the things done that I need to.

    Part of that, I have decided is helping people for free. So, I’ve seen a couple of emails that have come in that I want to follow up with advice.

    However, I’m afraid of the transition I’ll need to make once I get the ball rolling on my business and I’ve built an awesome product. So, right now brain pickers don’t bother me because it’s not yet a time commitment and it’s helping me out, and I can build confidence.

    But, I’m definitely saving these scripts for future use!

  100. Abso-F-ing-Lutely Perfect! Hey Marie!

  101. This has come up in the B-School Facebook group a few times and my answer is ALWAYS the same. If you go to coffee with someone in exchange for letting them pick your brain they will almost always assume your time is worth $3.50 an hour (the price of a latte at Starbucks). It has happened to me before even with the “nicest” people. So, I have a rule that I don’t give away my shizz for free over coffee/lunch. Because it’s a hard and fast rule, I feel like I don’t need to over-explain, it’s the same simple line every time.

    Plus, I give away so much free info away on my websites that if someone can’t find the info that they need there it means they need some seriously high-level consulting work and you better believe I’m chargin’. Or, it means they are lazy mo-fos and I’m not interested in that.

    • tabassum

      Hi Kate! I love your take on this. If we accept coffee for a brain picking session, you just accepted $3.50/hr! Sometimes we’ve got to put these scenarios in concrete terms. I’m gonna remember this the next time someone wants to pick my brain.

      See you in our Facebook group 🙂

    • Yes, love the point about time being worth $3.50 – never thought of it that way before but it’s so true!

  102. Silvia Bianco

    Love this of course. But wanted to write about Italy, my birthplace. You are going to have an amazing time and so many memories.

    If you go to Florence, seek out a restaurant called “Anita’s” located somewhere near Piazza Signoria. It’s where many of the locals go. The food is wonderful and the experience is authentic. It’s been years since I’ve been there so don’t know if it’s changed but there’s no menu. They tell you what they have and on the way out you tell them what you ate and pay for it.

    Have a wonderful time. I’m so excited for you.

    • I live here now and Trattoria Anita is one of my faves! Amazing lunch deals. But, you need to get the daily specials…everything else is just so so. But, that’s normal here.

      • silvia Bianco

        Hi Kate. Thanks for the info. I’m so glad Anita’s is still there. I have so many fond memories of it. I’ll be visiting in the fall or next spring to research cooking classes so I can bring a group there. I can’t wait to come back to my bella Italia and stop by Anita’s.

  103. Love the scripts, Marie—and that you’ve brought graceful yet effective attention to these conversations.

    Since I suffer from the disease of wanting to save the world through design, I am often compelled to give my brain trust away. What has helped me with “brain picking” friends and strangers is reminding myself in saying no, I am also showing potential clients (or fellow designers) an example of how a designer designs her business. Creating healthy boundaries and establishing systems that also serve, I’ve created another way to “save the world” through design. Win win, right?

    In months or years down the road anyone who might have felt scorned might actually value my shutting it down, elegantly and effectively.

    Enjoy your voyage, Marie.

  104. I get the request a lot and have 3 answers depending on whose asking:

    1) Ouch, will it hurt? When I want to laugh it off and ignore it.
    2) Sure, tell me exactly what you need so we can determine how much time we need, my brain picking fee is $nnn/hour.
    3) Sure, here is how you can pick my brain…. take me to lunch at a restaurant of my choice and you pay. I suggest you write down all your questions so you get the most out your hour.

    I do actually do take many of those requests if they come from someone who wants to find out more about what I do. I enjoy sharing my knowledge and insights and it has been a good way for me to get new clients and build a good reputation.

  105. Farah

    Because my business is a service, whenever someone wants just a nugget of information, I will politely say, “You know, it’s really hard to answer you in a casual way. Why don’t we set up a consultation and we can really spend some time answering your questions.” People feel taken care of, like you really care about hearing them. The people who are serious potential client know they want to work with me before the consultation and the people who just want free information don’t even schedule a time.

  106. Kim

    I’m a little conflicted about how I feel about this one. I TOTALLY agree that if you are experiencing real growth or have been in the game for years and payed your dues that charging for your time is acceptable. Your time is obviously money and spending it chit chatting can take away from what you could/should be doing. Where I’m conflicted is for those who are just starting out or part time entrepreneurs, who cannot yet live solely off of their business’ success. Someone taking interest in you or your business at that point is a great way to get word of mouth ( or blog ) referrals for your service or product, so why turn them down if you really do have the time? I recall a Youtuber who’s fan base/subscriptions has been growing over the years and within the last 2 years started up a online jewelry store. A lot of interests and sales are garnered from their subscribers buying from them. When they decided to make a video answering some questions they’ve been receiving about starting a business and how to run a business, they were dismissive, vague, secretive and slightly condescending ( though they may not have meant to be ). To paraphrase, it was a little bit of “I did this all by myself, so you go and figure it out” that was handed to their subscribers …and they were PISSED! I was actually shocked at how quickly they pounced and let that Youtuber know they did not like being talked to like “information free-loaders”. One even went on to scold them stating that the subscribers were the ones helping that business grow, so they should’ve been forthcoming about it or just not post the video in the first place. The video was removed days laters.
    I used this as an example of the other side of saying no to “brain pickers” because I don’t really know if they were in the right/wrong for dismissing such a simple request for some general knowledge/experience ( not personal business secrets) when they don’t sell information but a product and use their viewers to make a profit. Help me out here because I’m in the same situation ( very small business owner) and don’t want to miss my opportunity to bless others with the knowledge/experience I’ve been blessed with. My time is valuable but if I have the time AND selling a service/information is my business venture, why not help a bit? Thanks Marie and ladies!
    #we’re blessed to be a blessing.

  107. Ohhhh, this is such a great subject, and I’ve had a lot of people contact me for free advice under the guise of “brain picking” or “meeting for coffee”. Often what I do is say either, “I wrote a blog post on that that I think would answer your question perfectly, you can see it here.”, or, “That’s a great question. Would you be happy for me to write a blog post about that?”, which is great especially if it’s something that could help other people out, AND it helps me from getting stuck with what to write for future blog posts.

    Whenever I’ve had my brain picked, I’ve always felt like I have to be really helpful and that it would lead somewhere, but have never received more than a few hundred pounds for further services stemming from that, so I’ve had to stop because it’s just not financially viable. I found the hard way that the people who go for the free stuff straight away are so unlikely to actually pay for a “proper” service down the line.

    I’m also gong to be implementing a “brain picking” session for people to book my time and pay for it, that way, everyone know that my time is valuable.

    Excellent as always, Marie!

  108. That was awesome verbiage! Loved it

  109. Great video as usual. I just did a full 100 minute coaching call on this very subject and didn’t use the scripts you used, but shared a number of my own. The short script formula is this… “affirm them and then say no”. 🙂 That’s what I do and works great every time.

  110. Jan

    I love this topic! Good reminders! As an event planner, I remember the first time I responded differently when someone asked me if I knew of a good (fill in the blank) vendor. I said, I have an excellent service where I will talk to you for a few minutes and then send you a selection of three vendors you might like to speak with for $50.00 or $75.00 depending on how soon your event is. Whenever I haven’t done that, I’ve regretted it. Other vendors will also try to pick my brain. I think I’ll start and “If you buy me lunch and give me 3 referrals program” for those people!

  111. Love love your latest video on “how to say no” to brain pickers! As a Integrative doctor, I get this all the time. Can you give me some “quick” tips on (health topic of the day).. I want to help people & feel torn until I really realized that people don’t implement what they don’t invest in or find valuable. I want people to have personalized plans and results — no cookie cutter! Can’t wait to put the scripts into action.

  112. Kim

    A timely topic and Thank you for addressing it with humor and honesty. Had a request that was verbatim, except the request was made through a mutual friend. Was told that this woman wanted to “meet me for coffee to pick my brain about shows in the area and to get a copy of my show schedule”. The request came from a woman lives in my neighborhood! Wish I had access to your scripts at that time. Told my friend that I learned about shows through trial and error, plus had spent many years researching and developing relationships with show organizers. In order to find the shows that were a perfect fit for her product, she needed to contact the organizers, attend shows, look at what type of vendors are participating, pay attention to who is attending; what are they buying, etc. Shows are advertised in the newspaper and on the internet through facebook, twitter, etc., so the information is easy to find. Kindly explained that my business contact information is proprietary and my time is worth more than a cup of coffee. Said that it’s not reasonable to expect me to hand such valuable information over to a stranger who wouldn’t take the initiative to contact me directly. Said it all with a smile, but think I made my point as I’ve not received further requests. Thanks again for your suggestions.

    Buon viaggio!

  113. Emily

    One thing too that’s worked is when you offer a “ten minute phone chat”. A high profile actress did this with me recently and I SO appreciated. “I’m currently filming but I’d love to have a ten minute chat with you if you’re available.” She honored HER time, but she was still generous. And besides, with a phone call, both of you are paying of the minutes already so it’s an even field. I also had one actress (who had just won a Tony Award) write me a little handwritten note after I’d written to her over 4 months ago! I figured she couldn’t meet for coffee but the fact that she took a few minutes and wrote me a note meant just as much as a coffee date.

    A part of me was really frustrated with this episode because if everyone takes the “I’m too busy… Best of luck” attitude then no one really grows…. As someone whose business is based on relationships and not a product, if I don’t meet new people, I don’t work…. And nowadays people use the “I”m busy” excuse as a reason to not even OPEN an email. Yes, value your time, etc but if all your mentors and teachers had charged for every drop of minute that you asked a question, where would this world be? There’s something to be said for giving to people who can ‘t give back to you. Because in some way that really does come back to YOU. I may not become a client but at one time I recommended 3 friends who became clients all because of the courtesy and professionalism that one woman showed. Not everything has to be TIT for TAT. No one’s business started that way. If you can’t meet their request, that is more than ok but in what other ways can you be generous to those people? I loved the first script: “Do you have a quick question for me?” It’s saying “here’s what I can offer you…” I really believe that those little things aren’t wasted. No one is a waste of time because you never know who that person will be.

    Marie, you absolutely rock! Love reading everyone’s comments.
    Just wanted to share my thoughts too.


    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Emily! I was thinking the same thing as you on being too busy.

      To combat this, I have quick (30-minute) phone calls with people before I meet them in person. This allows me to better understand his or her goal in wanting to connect with me.

      My issue is keeping the phone call to the allotted 30 minutes. Can you tell me how the actress handled the 10-minute call with you? Did she keep on time and, if so, how did she steer the conversation to stay on track?

      • Emily


        Thankyou for your note.
        She first asked “Share a little about yourself and your struggles.” Then she let me talk for a good while. She’d even say “Hmmm I see, go on.” After about 5 minutes she said “Ok well here’s my take on it… Do you have a pen? I’ll give you 2 resources.” She spoke for a few and then said “I only have about one more minute so I’ll just end by saying…. ” The ball was in her court the whole time because she let me express FIRST and then SHE responded and wrapped it up. It was brilliant.

  114. Another great Marie TV episode – and I LOVE the dress, Marie. Such good advice, and the scripts are super helpful. I created a Pick The Coach’s Brain offering, and it’s been awesome. Not only has it provided a great opportunity for people who have lots of questions to actually get them answered, but since it’s an actual paid for service, it has much greater value than a quick coffee date since it has all the trappings of a professional service. Blocked off, uninterrupted time during which I am entirely focused on the client and can really drill down and understand where she is, what her challenges are, and help her get real clarity as to what next steps are right for her. Brilliant!

  115. “If you want people to value your time, you have to put a value on it.” – my biggest takeaway.

    However, some of the BEST conversations I’ve had with people are over the coffee discussions. I’ve been amazed at people’s generosity (in both their time and efforts). And I will always do everything I can to help these folks out — like send them prospective clients or spread the word about them. So, I think there can be a lot of value in opening yourself up to people and meeting them.
    I guess, like everything else, it really depends on the situation. 🙂

    But great stuff to think about. Thanks for another awesome video. Hope you have a wonderful trip!

  116. Holy comments already, Batman! I had to scroll so far!

    “People are always grateful for an honest answer especially when it’s delivered in a loving and compassionate way…”

    I say this all the time to my clients in a totally unrelated way. Being authentic and say what you mean is a constant struggle for people.

    I love these scripts! They are classy and direct. I will know when I have time to connect, network and have my brain picked. I also keep very strict boundaries around WHO I would do this with. Essentially it’s only the top 6 people in my life – because I’m making time for them anyways. I am very clear on the fact that this is different than the typical gossip and a little more serious about where their at and what they might be able to do about it.

    -Heidi xx

    • Hey Heidi! There’s a small link at the top of the comments that you can click and it will bring you to the bottom so you can post your own comment. That’s was my saving grace this morning as I’m too lazy to scroll before my 2nd cup of coffee. 🙂

  117. I love your advice. While we all want to be considered “givers” (it’s all over – GIVE and you’ll feel GREAT!), it is impossible to give to everyone who wants to know “how you got there.” Three hours later you’re wishing you’d just used the Momma Excuse. Thank you, Marie!

  118. Edna J

    I love this and thank you as I am in this place changing to consulting. Cant pick my brain!!!!

  119. Thanks for the tips!

    I now know how to ‘diplomatically’ handle people who want to pick my brain when I’m too busy to chat.

  120. Thanks Marie,

    I deal with this all the time, brain pickers! I now have a book, that I wrote to put all my best in one place! Thanks for giving me the words to use to direct brain pickers to my book. It is hard as I want to be kind but, you are 100% correct, if I do not value my work, who will?

    Blessings of health, Paula

  121. Hey Marie, I love your take on this. I am starting to get overwhelmed with brain pickers and am such a weenie when it comes to telling people I don’t have time. I actually love helping them with info on what I’ve learned the hard way but I’ve come to the realization that I can’t give all my time away. I gotta work!!

  122. Experience + worth = Value
    People like a good value, so it sells itself.

    I turned mine into mentoring, a magazine, chapters and a movement for modern widows. Moving forward while reaching back so everyone wins.


  123. Rose

    Marie~ if in Florence, check out a restaurant…Gargani…on via Moro!!!
    If in Rome, don’t miss via Marguta….fabulous little elegant shops…a small street between Spanish Steps & Piazza Popolo.
    Dress warm…summer has been shy!
    Just returned Sunday… pasta withdrawl

  124. Brilliant, Marie! I can’t tell you how much I needed this right now!

    Want my normal response to people wanting to pick my brain over coffee?

    “I’d love to have coffee with you! Unfortunately, my mortgage company has requested that I no longer pay in coffee beans. Therefore, I’m going to have to pass.”

    Because people around here know I’m a coffee addict, they are always using the “coffee” pick-up line. So, when it is someone I know well (or a friend), I use coffee as my script. 🙂

    However, I was having problems with those I don’t know as well. I speak Internationally on humanizing SEO for businesses and people are always wanting to pick my brain after the sessions. Now, armed with your scripts, I have a great way to say no. Thank you!

    • Shannon, After a presentation!? Those people sound like hot leads! I’d say have a sales pitch ready for those brain pickers 🙂 and have a way to get their payment on the spot, seriously!

  125. GOLD!!! LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the SCRIPTS!!! Sometimes we just don’t have the words to gracefully express what needs to be said. Fantastic Video!

    I have done lots of networking over the years & “coffee” is the way to meet up one to one and get to know each other. I have had some people ask to “pick my brain”… which I usually interpret as “I don’t value what you do enough to pay for it”. I have gotten much better at drawing a line.

    What I would add though is that if networking is one of your key marketing strategies, “coffee” meetings are expected because networking is about building relationships. The key is to have a way to systematically handle them & make decisions about who to have them with. For example, to find referral partners. These scripts even help with that. I like the idea of getting down to what you really want & that you’re not just networking for the social aspect (if you aren’t, although some groups do have a heavy emphasis on the social aspect, so you need to be aware of the culture of the networking group you’re involved with & make sure it fits what you’re looking for).

  126. OMG Marie! I was just thinking last week: “I wonder if Marie has a video on this…” as I was answering a couple emails from brain pickers. Perfect timing and thank you! I always cave and get coffee because my schedule would allow it (on purpose, I don’t really ever want to be SO busy) so I feel guilty saying no.
    Again thanks for this and ALL the work you do! 🙂


  127. Great video and interesting timing (as always 😉 ).

    I just had someone asking if he could pick my brain on Facebook. If I could have helped him I would have, but as was, his problem was so complex I couldn’t even give him a crumb. I invited him for a consultation and even offered him a discounted rate since he was referred by a friend.

    Never heard from him again. 🙂

    I find that people who “want to pick your brain” quite often have no intention of paying for the value they would receive. Or appreciate your time.

    Marie, I love your stand on standing firm and not getting sucked into the game.

  128. tabassum

    Oooooo Marie this was a good one! I have been literally letting people just grab anything they want from my brain because I feel bad about turning them down and not helping them. But in reality they should feel bad about taking up hours of my time, getting free info that took me years of hard work to get and in my experience I haven’t even got a free coffee or anything out of it!

    This video reminded me how “I” need to teach people how to respect me and my time. I’m going to be practicing these great scripts because I have such a hard time saying “no”.

    P.S. Marie- I love your hair today!

  129. Love it Marie, as always you are on point! I’ve only had a few of these instances in my time and your advice on handling them are graceful yet leave no question about where you stand. Awesome.

    And you crack me up!

    Thanks for sharing all your wisdom girl! Enjoy Italy!

    (Side… I totally posted this in the wrong place the first time… sorry to mess up someone’s reply string!)

  130. Ahhh, thank you for spotlighting this issue!!! Something I’ve struggled with for my nine years of self-employment. Being helpful vs. being protective.

    I used to charge for coffee (and was going to suggest checking out Erika Napoletano’s Buy Me Coffee but see she already commented above, awesome!). Then I realized, I didn’t want to turn into a Life Coach/Career Counselor and that’s who I was becoming.

    So now my go to response – so go to, it’s a Canned Response so I can easily insert – is to invite folks to either upcoming events of mine or events I’ll be attending.

    This is what I say —
    “Thanks for your email and for deeming me worthy of your time!

    I find myself being asked to “get coffee” and collaborate numerous times a week; high-class problem you could say… I am fortunately/unfortunately up to my neck in projects and partnerships right now, so am not taking on anything new. Fortunately, because being busy is awesome! Unfortunately, because I have to turn down chats and potentially awesome collaborations.

    The best way to get me these days is at an event of mine or at an event I’ll be attending. Win-win situation, where we can chat face to face, and bonus! you get to meet other awesome Chicagoans and learn something as well.

    Upcoming events of mine can be found on my website:

    I’ve never had a negative interaction with someone using this method. And often, they DO end up coming out to an event, they meet lots of fab folk, fall in love with the Mac ‘n Cheese vibe, and woot!, turn into a client of mine.

  131. I have been the picker in the past–I can say that now, though I didn’t realize it at the time; I was, intention-wise, a heart-picker v. a brain-picker, but it is still the rub of asking another person for more than they can give you–or want to give, and sitting with that. I write about food and consciousness, and a couple of years ago, I asked a fairly new acquaintance (an esteem author and scientist) to “just consult” on a book/project, to fact-check the Buddhism and neuroscience parts of my work. I really had NO concept of what I was “just” asking (I see it now)! This was handled masterfully, kindly, and elegantly–and it’s worth pointing out that this person has now become my dear friend and mentor, and recently asked ME to read his manuscript and offer feedback, as a friend, not a consultant, which I gladly did–At the picking point, here’s what he actually said: “I just don’t have the bandwidth. And with great respect, I don’t think you need my expertise at all to do what you want to do.” I was stunned by this response, a little hurt, but tidally grateful. It was SO refreshing to have someone model clear, unapologetic, but compassionate boundaries for me! I had no experience growing up where people were direct like that–and it was from love, not anger or fear. I learned a lot from that experience. I did have to make the conscious choice not to shrivel up and take this personally (and use it as an excuse for self-doubt/to quit). Because his response was intended with respect and care for my talents, that’s how it unfolded–who knew that a year later I’d have this person as a true friend, not just a friendly consultant? I think when you are just starting out, or if things are unfolding quickly for you, it’s natural to go to people you deeply admire and ask for help. I also found in this experience, that if you can sit through the discomfort of not getting what you think you want at the time, there is something potentially much more admirable–inside yourself–you will find. I liked option #1 that you offered, and can see myself using that (as now I’m finding people coming to me)–I love that option because it assumes the best intentions in someone, and potentially helps them clarify these for themselves. Deep thanks, Marie.

  132. hi marie
    thanks! great topic of which i am the queen of free info sharing. I guess i feel when they see i am knowledgable at some point they will hire me- sometimes that is true and other times it is not..

    I ‘m a health coach and a psychic. re health, people always ask me when i am out socially– what to do about this? or what do you think of that? and i take time to answer. they dont want to meet me for coffee but at social gatherings they ask me questions. so thats hard. what to say then?

    As a psychic i dont feel this as i could say book a reading i cant focus here. though to be honest i do just wing a reading for a free at party all the time. or have in the past. But not any more!

  133. I love all the scripts you gave Marie. I couldn’t believe how people started coming out of the woodwork asking to do this even when I was an Intern and at that point my prices were super low. What was most aggravating until I learned to be picky about who I had tea with is that they would waste my time and not take my advice….grrr. When people pay they are much more likely to follow through and get results:)

    • Good point Niight Wind about following through and taking advice! I wish there was a nice way to say “I only give advice to those who are willing to pay since usually they are the ones who will follow through”. 😉

  134. I loved this episode. I used to get these kinds of requests even before I considered myself to be successful and I wish I had these super scripts way back when. It totally would have saved me hours of coffee and thinking I needed new friends who just wanted to join my network without really adding much value to my life. Thanks for these tips Marie!

  135. CC

    Wow – great Q&A Tuesday! Thank you so much for the scripts. There’s nothing I like better than a kind, succinct way of saying what my guilty conscious prevents me from saying in less than 100 words, filled with excuses, justifications, and blathering!

    I’m a mental health counselor for children and families. Soooooooo, every co-worker at some point or another has wanted “just a minute or two” – which turns into 45 minutes to an hour more often than not – to talk about a personal concern. While I would LOVE to direct them to blogs or books, I’m not at that stage of development YET. (and yes, this motivates me to get there QUICKLY!!) Time is money for me, but because I work in a school rather than a private practice, the environment suggests that I’m available for free consultations. The other issue is that I do not take insurance, so if I asked them to book an appointment, they likely wouldn’t, because they don’t have or want to spend the funds on me if they can find a counselor in the community who accepts their insurance.

    We all know that having a counselor you know and trust in front of you is better than having to go through the phone book or your insurance company for a referral to someone you don’t know, who may take 6 weeks or more to get in.

    That being said, how do I kindly sell paying to see me to coworkers whose expectations are that I be available for free to them – not just for the students in their classroom – but for them, personally, too?

    Any and all insights and suggestions welcome!


  136. Hi Marie – I LOVE this! I use a script similar to #2 that you mentioned – leading them to loads of free content. I curate a bunch of my past content under a “start here” section on my website so they can easily scroll to what they want. Occasionally, if they ask for something specific and I have it as a free download, I’ll have my assistant send that over too! My reason for not being open to “pick my brain” (besides needing to run a profitable business without going insane) is that my dogs will be really pissed off that they didn’t get their walk/hike/jog/play time/cuddles during “pick my brain” time and then I’ll send a photo of my dogs all sitting really nice, clearly waiting for some attention. That always gets a smile! 🙂

  137. Great scripts Marie!

    I’ve recently transitioned from info product sales to full time consulting, and it was a rough switch until I decided not to take on any clients who hadn’t already paid a deposit and filled out a detailed survey about their business.

    This single change helped me realign my focus to only work with those I can help the most. I cut out all the bs “getting to know you” sessions and jump right into getting results.

    The shift has been dramatic and enlightening. I appreciate your insights here as well!

  138. narkis

    This is so challenging because:
    1.So many people helped me in my path and enabled me to “pick their brain” so I feel like I need to give it back to others BUT
    It can be time consuming to do so…So how can we know the limit? I would like to start a paltform that helpes people in their cross roads, and then I will direct the requests I get their….
    I once asked someone to pick his brain and he wrote me that he has no time and prefer not to do any meetings. It was elegantly but I still got hurt : ) What’s right?

  139. nan

    this was hysterical..but such good advice ,as well..
    I’ve invested a considerable amount of time and money learning about my craft…while I don’t mind giving encouragement to beginners..I have no intention of mapping it all out for someone else…
    going thru the actual process of trial and error is very important in building ones own business…
    Thanks for the laugh and great info..

  140. I love this, Marie! As always, your advice is awesome – and the scripts are so helpful!

    This is such a common problem for entrepreneurs! In fact, Tara Hantske just covered this on Monday over on at 🙂

    Thank you for helping us end brain picking. 🙂


  141. Sher T

    OMG! OMG! Totally been having this problem for a while now. Totally loved the “clothes-stealing analogy” – True! Loved it!

  142. Love this advice! The scripts are dreamy.
    The best response to brain pickers I ever heard comes from Jeffrey Gitomer – he said;
    “Tell you what – pay me my consultation rate, and I will buy YOU the coffee”.
    I have used it, and it weeds out the bottom dwellers from the serious clients.

  143. As always – a fab A to the Q. I’m on the other side of the Q tho – I’m a brain picker. I started my virtual assistant business 5 months ago, and recently have been asking people I know for “pick” sessions over coffee. The response? Nuthin’. Silence.

    Full disclosure: I provide part-time and temporary business support to real estate agents. I’ve reached out to a former co-worker who is now a successful agent – she already has a team and doesn’t need my services – because I wanted to get an idea of what additional services, etc. I should be offering. The other is no longer an agent – now a mortgage broker – but again, someone I respect and who might have really valuable insights to help me strengthen my business.

    WHAT should I be doing differently, cuz my current flow ain’t workin’??

  144. Hey you’ll

    As a yoga teacher, I get asked a lot for fitness advice etc. I give a little and I take a little. I don’t mind helping out here and there when the person then becomes my advocate and starts talking to ther friends about me. I thinkn it depends on the nature of the question as well.

    There have been times where people want me to teach classes for free and i’ve had to turn it down, because I wanna get paid and there has to be some sort of value exchange… you know, a mutual value exchange, even if it’s not always in case.

    I have met up with another lifestyle coach over coffee and it turned out that we picked each other’s brains and both gained value later one through collaboration.

    I’ve picked many a brain, and am surprised that some people are willing to do it.

    I would still do it if I perceive a good value exchange. nothing wrong with growing your network.


  145. I love the concept of getting clear on what they want (and what you are willing to give. ) I make it clear that I can be found at my open studio once a month and I’m happy to share some information. I also have a list of books and web sites in my head I am quick to offer (like Marie TV) since I don’t have any consultation offerings.
    Here’s another spin: since the picker is basically asking you to volunteer your time, why not ask them to volunteer their time to a cause you support. For example:
    “I’m helping out with the Feel Good Cause fundraiser this Saturday. We need an extra hand to clean up after our pancake breakfast. We always have some good laughs while folding those chairs, I’m sure I could answer a quick question if you were volunteering this Saturday.”

    The key as the novice is to offer something in return so you aren’t just taking time and information.

    thanks as always.

  146. Thank you Marie and all you ladies and gents with great responses!
    I feel honoured that my business has reached the point where I no longer have time to answer brain-pickers individually. This is what I say:

    “Thank you for reaching out to me I appreciate that you see me as someone that can provide you with advice. I’ve created a document that answers a lot of frequently asked questions so I attached it to this email also check out this article (link) for and recent interview.”

    If they read the FAQ I have a attached to the email they will see at the bottom that I recommend coming to one of my workshops to learn how I do what I’d do. Experiencing my classes will be far more valuable then me describing it in person.

    When friends ask for advice I always say yes and ask them to do something for me in return. For example I have a friend who’s stellar at social media when she asked for some nutrition advice for her daughter I said I would be happy to help and could spare a few hours. Would she mind sharing some wisdom about social media. We both felt good because I acknowledged that she has expertise in an area that I don’t and there was an equal exchange of energy.

  147. Hey Marie, love your energy and your videos! I have noticed most people who come out of the woodwork and ask for free advice or to pick my brain over coffee would never pay for consulting anyway, and in many cases would not even share or retweet my books or charity fundraising pages when I needed which costs nothing. Rather than reacting to requests I would rather pick the people that I want to help, that way I get to choose and focus on the people like good friends / family who deserve it or actual clients that are a match!
    Another idea could be in exchange for the consult over coffee to request a donation to your charity fundraising page which would weed out the users

  148. Thank you Marie for offering all this free advice on a weekly basis. You and this awesome community of entrepreneurs have really been a tremendous inspiration and resource as I grow with my business.

    I get this more and more. I admit I become an open book to people who want to pick my brain. Sometimes it leaves me feeling satisfied and sometimes it leaves me feeling used and unappreciated, depending on the questioners response.

    I feel like a certain amount of personal respect is lost when I just spill my guts. I think having blog content ready to go is the best for me. That way I can give it a friendly tone while maintaining a professional distance, hopefully keeping that level of respect in tact.

  149. Robert Meler

    The sad truth, from my experiance, is that people do not follow, free advice, anyway. So, you might as well make them pay. That way you can help them commit.

    Take care,

    Bob Meler

  150. Alexis Fedor

    The best part of this blog topic for me is forming clarity around this issue. Like anything else, my friends respond well to clarity. Sometimes they don’t like it, or get scared by it, as if it means I don’t care for our relationship in the same way anymore. But when I give them time to sit with it, and they see that I still feel the same while being extremely honest about how I value my own time and work, they accept it and understand better. And my true friends respect me for it in the end.

  151. This is awesome advice! I saw an article on Forbes about this once yet having these scripts is so effective. I get people that want to “share advice” all the time. Thank you so much and you look fantastic!

  152. Totally loved this. It’s awesome. Marie Forleo is (the) bomb-tastic.
    Another friend taught me this one several years back, but only if you are game and have the time (everyone’s gotta eat, was her thinking):
    “Oh, sure, why don’t you take me out for a nice dinner and we can talk.”
    I tried it several times and the person evaporated! I think often the person asking doesn’t realize that’s it nice to give as well as receive, too. Had I been the person asking, and I wanted that connection/info/networking enough, I would have said hell, yes! 🙂

  153. Wow – this is so helpful to me! I feel like I don’t have time to spend with my current friends, while I end up having coffee with anyone who asks because “you never know what will come out of it.” Thank you for a nice way to say no to those I know are just interested in taking from me.

  154. I like to help people when I can but lately I have been feeling resentful about the distraction the requests create. Great info in this video to help me set healthy boundaries with the ‘brain pickers’ so I can focus on being even MORE successful and fending off even MORE ‘brain pickers’.

  155. I ask people out to coffee ALL THE TIME!!! But usually they are still in the on-ramp period of their business (so am I) and it is more of a mastermind session. I’ve never had anyone brush me off and I’m never wanting to ask them a gazillion questions or trying get inside their brain, maybe that is why it always goes so well. Now I feel like a creep!

  156. Oh Marie, this video was so supremely helpful! I think this is a really common issue faced by people whose businesses are starting to bloom and it’s tricky to know how to deal with it, as you say, elegantly. Thank you so much for sharing your great suggestions!

  157. As a speaker, I get approached all the time. LOVE your response #3 🙂

  158. Hi Marie!

    This is super excellent and right on time. When this happened to me I took it as a sign that it was time to expand my business (or at least the vehicles I used to spread my message)

    So I created a YouTube channel and recently decided to add a Quickie Q&A session to my product offerings. My youtube channel provides global insights and wisdoms whereas the Quikkie Q&A product will give instant emailable answers to (private) questions and concerns.

    Adding these three scripts to my tool belt is gonna be so AWESOME!!!!
    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

  159. I had a male friend, kind of popular in social media, respond to my “Can I pick your brain” question with “It’s cheaper to pick your nose.” I was shocked when I first heard that, but then he’s a comedian, so…

    Years later, when my valuable information was being hijacked over what I thought were social invitations for coffee, I realized how insulting it was for me to just assume that he’d give me his knowledge for free.

    I’ll probably never use the pick-your0nose line, though, so thanks for these other responses. 😉

    • I’ve lost a lot of so-called friends in the last few years as I have actively been building my own business and charging for all of the hard-earned information and advice that they were so freely picking from my brain without offering me anything in return. The minute I let them know, nicely, that I offer sessions and that they need to book a session with me if they want to go deeper into the topic, they evaporated.

      But, the Universe appreciates a vacuum, so they say, so hopefully I’ll be filling it up soon with respectful people.

  160. I love my current business coach! When her and I first met, giving a presentation about business to a local high school, I asked her if I could “pick her brain” essentially, as she had started multiple businesses and I needed some entrepreneurial advice.

    She handled it beautifully! It became clear that it wasn’t going to be just a friendly meeting grabbing coffee, and I wasn’t offended at all. We spoke on the phone about her business coaching and I was totally in.


  161. Marie,

    I will be the contrary voice. Isn’t it the ultimate flattery when someone thinks your opinion is important enough to ask for it? Most opinions are given completely unsolicited and unwanted. No one ever asks for my opinion and when I offer it for free, I am dismissed summarily. Heaven help the person who actually ASKS me for my opinion. It might cause a tidal wave! 🙂

    Obviously no one has time to field hundreds of requests for help. But, there might be a way to give back. After all, without all of the folks who read your postings and whose lives you have influenced, where would you be? Writing for your immediate family? Keeping a journal under your mattress? Isn’t that kind of like the Hollywood star who refuses to acknowledge that without his fans he would be nothing more than a waiter pretending to be an actor?

    What if you were to ask everyone who asks for a favor, to post a question to your blog? You could aggregate all of the questions, every so often, and respond all at once and in organized fashion. Everyone gets to have a piece of you and you are delivered home grown material for your next blog post. Plus, you get to interact with your friends and followers in ways you may not have before.


    • Marc,

      You bring up a good point I think we should all be mindful off. Anyone who has achieved success has done so with some help, so, it’s good to give back. The trick is knowing where to draw the line and being comfortable enough to do so when it’s necessary. 🙂

  162. Great, entertaining Tuesday Q&A! I run a large healing arts school in addition to my website and people are constantly coming to me for advice. To some extent letting people pick my brain is a good method of building relationships an IS one of our mail marketing tools for enrolling programs and classes. Then there’s still what I call the “vampire” level of requests where someone actually wants something like “do it for me” or “can you fix it/me.” My line is, ” I’d LOVE to help you! I charge X per session and my hours are….. Call me and let’s set it up!”

    • Nancy,

      I like your perspective. Letting someone pick your brain is a great way to build relationships. Grassroots marketing is one of the most effective ways to spread the message. After all, aren’t your fans your best advertisers and endorsers?

      I think we often forget how we got where we are and who helped get us there.


  163. Marie,
    This is right on point, being a person who had their brain picked. I will use your strategies in the future, these are great!

    Liked the idea from Darlene also!

    Enjoy your well deserved trip!

  164. Ciao Marie!! Bellissima!!!

    Love #2 + have always resorted to the mama/sister/best friend rule.

    Enjoy Italia + pizza!! 🙂

    Baci infiniti,

  165. EXCELLENT ideas all.

  166. This is FABULOUS Marie! As a health and weight loss & natural hormone balancing coach women LOVE to pick my healthy, skinny lil’ hormone balanced brain. And because I am so passionate about my work, I find myself biting and then sayin’ “W.T.What??”. So I’ve been needing these kind of scripts. But first I had to get clear on my part in how my “wanting to help” was getting in the way of being completely professional in my approach. So now if I’m at a dinner party and I feel the pick comin’ on, I say: Oh Sistah’ I hear your hot flash. I get the belly bloatin’ thang. We can fix that. But first I need to know a lot more about what is goin’ on with you. Check out my website, you can download my free book and get lots of my best info. Also you can fill out the health history on my services page and we can schedule a time to go over what’s buggin’ you. It’s on the house for the first session. Your health is too important to just chat about over a dinner, I want to make sure I don’t miss any important details. Here’s my card. So how is that talented daughter of yours? : )

  167. Marie, this was fantastic!!! This happens to me all of the time. I suffer from “too nice” syndrome. No more! If you’re asking me family law related questions then you need to schedule a consultation and pay the reduced fee for consultations. Of course, I do meet with the financial advisors, insurance brokers and all others who wish to “network”…that’s a different story.

  168. Alice

    I wish I had known this 4 years ago when my business first really took off! I ended up feeling burnt out and washed up after a few months because I didn’t value you my time and a few years later, all those people who acted like a casual friend to pick my brain later became my competitors. One of them actually ended up becoming my supervisor!

    Marie is right. VALUE YOUR TIME, PEOPLE. Fiscally and energetically. Sometimes hating to feel mean and ergo giving people everything they want for free will bite you in the ass later.

  169. Probably the best blog ever written Marie.
    People ask me almost weekly to pick my brain. At 56, but I say, ” I am a gal of wisdom and if you want to pick the brain of Canada’s next top Crone, you gotta pay up. :–)

    one funny lady

  170. Laura

    LOVE #1 and 2. I would be comfortable delivering or receiving that message. No so much on blaming mama.

    Here’s one of my scripts: “Gee, I’m so flattered! I’m sure we’d have a blast but my schedule is so packed right now with [coaching/blogging/hussling, etc.]. Honestly, the best way to pick my brain/connect with me is my [ABC service]. You seem really passionate about [xyz] and I’d love to help/work with you so I hope you decide to join me.”

  171. This is so awesome. I’m in the exact same place. I started out by giving a lot of advice for free (my fault) to build out that portion of my business but now I don’t have time.

    I hired a project manager to answer the phones and BOOM! – Instant gatekeeper. Next step is to integrate something like timedriver where appointments need to be schedules and desired product/service will be a required question.

  172. Jane

    This post couldn’t have come at a better time for me Marie!

    I have been struggling to ask for payment since I quit my ‘proper’ job in 2006. In fact I haven’t been paid for anything that I have done in the years that I have been building my business. At first it was because I felt as though I was still learning my craft, then it was because I thought I was helping people and that they would begin to pay me for my awesomeness, then it was because I was too embarrassed to start asking. I have actually started to ignore real requests with offers of payment because my mindset is all wrong! I need this wake up call.

    I have got to get my shizzle together and start charging for my services – to do otherwise is no way to run a business! It is also not helping me to pay my bills 🙁

  173. Scott

    This brings up lots of thoughts. Almost every piece of success literature out there suggests having coffee ( or lunch) with someone who you want to have a success similar to theirs. I’ve done it and have been successful obtaining appointments, but I make sure my questions are very thoughtful, I don’t waste their time, and try to offer something of value in return. That being said time and advice is valuable. The scripts are good. Friends and family are one thing , clients are another. Boundaries have to be established as your profile grows.

    Marie enjoy Italy.

  174. LOVE this topic especially as I had a client email me last night asking how to politely say no to vendors who want to come by.

    Before becoming an entrepreneur I actually had my Dream Job. I worked for Tony Robbins traveling all over the country speaking, sharing his tools and strategies and helping people transform their lives. I would get countless emails from strangers on Facebook asking how I got the job, or what tips would I have for speaking, or any number of questions related to the topic.

    The first few times I actually responded with a detailed email. Soon though, I realized that this would not be sustainable, so what I did is I looked over the emails I had sent in the past and I turned them into templates. This way when someone sent me an email, I just shot back the full template with 1 or 2 lines customized in the beginning. It worked like a dream and people often wrote back enormously grateful for the insight.

    I think the key here was that they were asking me something that would be the same answer for everyone because they were asking about my personal experience.

    I LOVE the Brain Picking Session to charge for that someone mentioned above!! Brilliant and I am absolutely going to add that to my practice. I am sure a lot of ladies here know that with only 2 spaces left in your practice every hour is super valuable and I agree with Marie, “I gotta visit my Mama!”

  175. I recently had someone ask if I could be their “mentor” until they could afford to pay me for coaching services. It was a very ballsy request on her part that came down to was that she wanted my services for free.

    I responded very politely that she could find plenty of free content and support on my website, but that if she wanted one-on-one time with me, she’d have to pay for it, and I’d be happy to discuss that with her once she was in a position to afford me. She asked me again to make an exception for her, and I declined, telling her that I had a limited number of private coaching slots available (when I don’t have a waiting list) and that I didn’t work for free.

    She got the message and was in the end very polite and gracious in return. All a matter of strategy, but my time is waaaay too valuable to spend it on people who, to paraphrase my grandmother, want the milk for free without buying the cow.

    Great video, Marie


  176. Marie Forleo, GET OUT OF MY HEAD. This is the EXACT thing I am dealing with right now! It’s getting a little out of control!
    THANK YOU! And I love the shopping analogy. STOP! THIEF! No, you cannot have all of the expertise I **paid** thousands of dollars for in certifications and trainings for FREE.
    Child, please.
    You rock. Love this video. End of story.

  177. Thanks Marie, This is Great! And funny timing, I Just had this happen to me. It was someone who met me at a talk I gave, and I knew they wanted to see me without paying. They positioned their request as an interview, but it was completely to pick my brain. I said yes, because my intuition said its OK to do this, and I also felt that it was a karmically good thing to do. I know one day I would appreciate to get a helping hand, or someone to give me some of their time. But Ive had other times people ask to meet me or call me for a quick question and my insides said ” No way!”, But I did NOT have a good script, and felt a lil guilty. I usually resort to, “Im too busy, maybe another time”, but I love your scripts, and, I still feel they take some guts to use, but you are RIGHT, you need to value your time,and its OK to make an honest living. Oh Yeah! 🙂 Thanks Marie :))

  178. As usual, you are awesome ! Great stuff ! Thank you Marie.

  179. I have made a career out of not getting paid by the people who ‘pick my brains’. In fact if I HAD charged every time someone got my time for free, I would be very, very, very wealthy!

  180. Jeannette

    Honestly, if it’s someone I know, I don’t mind them wanting to pick my brain. If it’s someone I don’t know, depending on the energy I get from the person determines if I want my brain picked. Helping people is a non-issue for me, it’s like paying it forward. Generally I do it just because I really don’t mind. If I don’t have the time, I tell them that I don’t have the time, forward them to my information where their questions will be most likely answered and wish them well. It is also great to keep in touch, never know how we can work together in the future, email works best for me.

  181. Arthur Robinson Jr.

    Hi.Marie This topic is very powerful.
    I get My Brain picked all the time.
    I interview very successful Entrepreneurs from all over the world.

    Powerful people like
    Tom Wheelwright Robert Kiyosaki( CPA)

    Loral Langemeier Dr.Phil’s Money Expert She is the best author of The millionaire maker.

    Larry Winget he is the Author of #1 best seller Your’re broke because you
    want to be.

    Pamela Yellen she is the Author of Bank on yourself and many many more.
    People ask me all the time How do you get connected to Influential Thought leaders ?

    It’s all about providing value to people.
    People want to pick My brain so they can get connected to the same thought leaders.
    Marie can you tell me what should I do should I tell them how I connect or just keep the underground Secrets to my self.
    I need your help.
    Marie you are a blessing to all of us.
    Keep doing what you love to do.
    Arthur Robinson Jr from Philadelphia.

  182. C

    Going through these responses and the video, it seems in my best interest just to stop requests such as these, even when having questions ready and suggesting they can be answered at the persons earliest convenience via email or phone. I understand time is money and try not to take up very much of that – even getting uncomfortable when the person begins too w into chitchat after questions have been answered. And rarely am I on the other end of that spectrum. Between this and the Ryan Holoday Creative Live video, it seems that advice these days either needs to come with a paycheck or through a trusted personal relationship. I’ll finish reading Never Eat Alone and move on.

  183. LOVE this segment. I’m often asked, “Can I pick your brain about…” My response is, “Thank you so much for valuing what I have to say. You are a professional too. What do you charge the brain pickers in your world?” the usual response is…

    1. “I don’t charge them.” Then I give a mini-coaching about how they worked hard for their knowledge and how it benefits them to value themselves.
    2. “Oh, hadn’t thought about that.” Same answer as above.
    3. “I buy them coffee.” Well my fees are… for 30 minutes of Coffee With Terry brain picking.

    Depending on the situation, I turn it into an opportunity to listen, give some answers and mini- coach them to enroll them as a coaching client or workshop participant. It’s all about Law of Attraction – if you consistently search to get free information expect your clients to do the same to you. It’s a lack mentality. A prosperous mentality understands that paying for services with an attitude of gratitude attracts the same.

  184. Hi Marie, as a Business Coach, “brain picking” happens often. I turn it in to a sales opportunity. And here is how I do it.

    1. I get them to do some pre-meeting work. I send a pre-meeting questionnaire with 3 questions:
    – what is the one thing you want to achieve at our meeting?
    – why do you think you have not had the answer to that question?
    – At our meeting if you get the answers you are looking for, what would the next steps be?

    2. I insist this being emailed to me 48 hours prior to the meeting. (It is made clear that if I did not receive the pre-meeting questionnaire the meeting will NOT take place: about 40 % do not respond and the meeting gets cancelled)

    At the meeting I do avoid giving direct answers as much as possible. By giving a direct answer I will be doing a dis-service by limiting ‘what is’ possible. “What is” communication, simply transmits information from one party to another in a static or passive way. A left-brain exercise. This assumes things will work out in a linear fashion.

    With “What is” communication, we tend to fill in the blanks using our experience and expertise. Unfortunately, the other party looks at these blanks differently.

    Instead I ask ‘lateral questions’ to create ‘what really could be’ and facilitate more information to create a dynamic engagement with my brain picker.

    Here is an example:

    If I get asked ” I am thinking of marketing my products XYZ way. What do you think?”

    Here are some of the ‘lateral questions’ I will lead with:

    What makes you think XYZ is the best way?
    What other marketing methods have you considered?
    What will be your marketing return of ‘XYZ’ method?

    Like peeling an onion I will dig as deep as I can.

    Instead of giving answers from my limited point of view, I help them explore their own path to what ever they are looking for.

    Some the closing questions will be something along the lines of:

    What have you learned from this meeting?
    What should be your next steps?
    What would happen if carry you on in the same trajectory without taking any action?

    Approximately 60-70% I meet will realize that they need help and want to explore working together.

    Hope this helps.

    Kind Regards


    • Grace

      This is an awesome tactic. Thank you for sharing!

  185. Grace

    I have totally always handled this by pushing it off unto someone else… or making some awkward joke lol this is SOOOOOO helpful. Thank you Marie!

  186. People can ask me questions about living abroad. I can help you to make your dream come true and more affordable. The first question is for free

  187. I had this problem become a HUGE issue for me. It actually led me to build a simple site called just so I could give people an opportunity to pay me for my consulting time.

    An interesting thing occurred after I did this.

    1) I actually did start getting people paying me for my time (awesome)!

    2) Because I wasn’t shy about this new project, requests for my time sharply declined. The reason (I hypothesize) is that people now started to understand that if I went through the trouble of building this site, my time was valuable and there was quite a bit of demand for it. I think that quantifying and monetizing my time actually made people think twice about whether or not they should ask me to take an hour out of my day to help them out.

    Now at first I thought this strategy might come off as arrogant, but overall the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Sure some people might be offended if you don’t offer to help them (for free) but if you’re respective in declining and make it clear that people pay for such advice, the majority of people won’t hold it against you.

    In case anyone is curious, I built my site on squarespace since they have a pretty simple commerce platform.

  188. We receive requests for help / brain picking pretty often.

    When the requests come in, we send an email full of links to free resources with a mention that if they need our help after going through the resources, we’re available for $XXX and a link to the page on our site with the pertinent services.

    Sometimes it’s necessary to send that message in reply a few times, but turning down a non-paying gig with helpful resources is very liberating.

    You can be a nice gal while demanding respect + payment for your gifts!

  189. Christine

    Hi Marie,
    Love your show always. Your outtakes are soooo funny. I’m glad you share them.

    I loved your scripts for dealing with people who want freebe info from you. But, as a recovering employment counsellor I know that asking successful people out for coffee is taught in business/entrepreneur programs. The logic is “if you want to be successful like person X find out what they do and how they do it,” that is, go pick their brains.

    Your script might be if you’re looking to get into business maybe you’d be interested in my “B” Program. (Maybe that’s not the right name for your business program but you know what I mean.)

    Have a great holiday in Italy.

    Best regards,

  190. Sweet Marie,

    I can’t imagine why folks would be a D-Bag to you. Anyone who is serious about their business and looking for smart, actionable strategies, owes it to themselves to rock your B School program. It has been a blessing in my life in SO many ways. I’ve always said, I’ll know I’ve made it when I start getting criticized (Still waiting…). When you are doing something HUGE in this world, it scares a lot of people. So thank you for ‘taking one for the team’ and keep rockin’ on with your bad self.

    Have a great time in Italy!!!

  191. This was a great Q&A today Marie! Thank you! This really helped reframe things and have me take things to a new level of owning it in my business! I am licensed clinician, coach and speaker specializing with intuitive strategies and have specific frameworks for emotionally sensitive people. I think so many of us, especially in the field that I am in, are true givers, and sometimes it becomes hard to separate the line between standing in our true value and worth and helping others at the same time. I realize now that setting boundaries with others not only is the best gift we can give to ourselves but also is the best gift we can give to another because it allows them to make the choice to listen to themselves and stand up for themselves in their true value as well! I have recently received in influx in friends asking questions and have been directing people to my site and have felt some guilt around that so I appreciate this soooo sooo much! Thank you for your beautiful blessing for today and I wish all of you a wonderful day of living in your true true purpose!!! xoxoxo Jen

  192. THANK YOU, THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!!!!!! This is a big problem for small business entrepreneurs in the consulting arena-
    Recently, an old friend from college(like 20 years ago) and I reconnected. she found me on facebook and linkin. She is creating a business, she is very poor, on disability etc, etc-she asked A LOT of Qs about my business and then asked if I could “direct her” on how to do online marketing, website design/admin, social media….you get it…THAT’S WHAT I DO FOR A LIVING….Here’s what I did in response to the “pick your brain dilemma” –
    I set up a One-time 1/2 hour FREE consultation with her over the phone. I didn’t really need to, but I wanted to keep the friendship- I stayed true to my work and gave her an intro into creating an online presence-which I do as part of my Free tele-seminars anyway-After we followed up, she agreed to hire me as part of some grant she was after, but only if the grant source agreed to pay my fee. I sent her a “What’s On Sale” page link that fit her situation exactly- Now I’m waiting for either my paypal receipt from her purchase OR another email/phone text with more Qs- I won’t take any more live phone calls from her until she makes a decision-either way I’m staying true to my work, my value and my integrity.

  193. Great tips and scripts, thanks Marie. One of my favorite blog posts about that perennial topic is “No, You Can’t Pick My Brain. It Costs Too Much to Maintain” by Adrienne Graham

  194. Hey there Marie Peeps! This was a great vid per usual. Thanks Marie and Team. I am in the beginning stages of my business, so I am not the one getting my brain picked. I am actually on the “brain-picker” side. This is a great reminder of how to approach someone who I admire and respect their time. I am usually too nervous to approach someone to network for these very reasons. Does anyone have a suggestion on how to appropriately ask someone to coffee or to “pick-their-brain”? Do I ask their fees right away and be up-front? Thanks for the advice! =)

    • I think the biggest thing is to convey the fact that you get their time is valuable. It depends what your end goal is too, are you really wanting to meet and network with the person or would you be just as happy with their products?

      If you went something along the lines of asking them to have coffee/network/etc but also throwing in there that if they have a product or service that they think would help you’d love to hear about it.

      This lets them know you’re open to paying for whatever advice or knowledge they have to offer but you really do want to meet with them and talk.

      That’s my 2 cents anyway, hope it helps.

  195. I needed this. I have a list of ‘clients’ or people who have paid me to do something once for them and then keep coming back for a little help here and there but don’t want to pay for it. All those quick favors add up to lots of unbilled time and while I have no problem with a mutually beneficial coffee date I’ve got bills to pay and diapers to buy.

    I just recently started drafting a letter to send out to those previously mentioned clients outlining that I can no longer work for free but I don’t want to leave them high and dry so here are my hourly rates for one off side projects, this video is the kick in the pants I needed to finish it up and send it off. I think I might also start implementing a ‘pick my brain’ offering that would solve lots of these back and forth e-mails I seem to get sucked into.


  196. Lucy Houston

    Hi Marie,

    Something good to think about for sure…. the busier and more successful that you become, the more that others will want to know how to replicate that success. I understand that it’s hard to find time for everyone that “comes out of the woodwork”, but even for friends? If there’s no time, there’s no time, but charging friends to “talk” seems a bit harsh to me…

    I guess I feel that we get back what we give out, and certainly lots of people have helped me along the way. I appreciate being able to give back to friends when I’ve learned something in life. If you want to charge friends, then just expect to be charged when you need some help in your life. “You need someone to help you move after a divorce? That’s fine, but my rate is $10/hour for physical labor. My time is important….” See how that feels?

    Again, if it’s people you haven’t heard from in 10 years, I think that makes sense. But for friends… I just couldn’t do it. Thanks.

    • Akasha

      If it’s a true friendship, then there has already been give and take on both parts and no one is feeling used. But if it is them ALWAYS coming to YOU for information/help/advice and NEVER contributing to your life and development in the same way, then it’s not a real friendship. It’s them using you for your expertise. And sometimes you have to cut these so-called friendships out of your life.

  197. Jo

    Ha! This really hit home for me. I am GUILTY as charged with allowing people to pick my brains, especially over the past few years. AND then felt kinda done over when they then used the ideas and never gave me any credit it for it. Recently, I have become more boundary driven about who and when I spend time with people and what I share. It still doesn’t feel comfortable, BUT it feels far more comfortable than feeling like I’ve been done over!

  198. Dear Marie,
    I signed up for your advice earlier this year but have not been able to view any of your videos until today.. You are simply brilliant. Thanks for this very valuable, practical and enjoyable advice. I passed it on to my 4,000+ facebook friends a minute ago. Here is what I said:
    I am in the midst of grading and don’t have time for much of anything. But right after I got my STP grades done, buy scanned email and saw something from Marie Forleo that I absolutely had to stop and watch. It’s worth it’s weight in platinum. So 1. watch the video. 2. sign up on Marie Forleo’s website. She is an amazing talent and has advice that can help all of us! 3. Figure out a way to get her paid. I got my thinking cap on because I really want to keep her soaring to new heights and helping people around the world. She’s proof positive that you don’t have to live in Silicon Valley or New York City to be a genius!!!

    Keep doing what you do. How CAN we get you paid? I am dead serious.
    Tom Kosnik

  199. Sandy

    Wow. In my industry, collaboration is essential. Grabbing coffee with talented, passionate people is an institution.

    I would be inclined to give everyone who seems to have their act together a little bit of time. Say, a Friday afternoon once per month where you have 20 minute ‘office hour’ sessions.

    Giving back is important – and you never know where your next great collaborator is going to come from. (Nor do you know whose career might blow up in the coming years, who will remember you fondly if you help.)

    If you are unwilling to use 2.5% of your time to help others, I think it’s better to ignore an email than to use any of the responses here, with the possible exception of the third.

  200. It starts with an inside job. If we can let of worrying about what others think & have confidence in our ability to say, “No,” elegantly & graciously, then it’s a “win-win” — we’re in our truth, and the listener is hearing the truth (packaged elegantly, of course).

    Thanks for a great video.

  201. Brianne

    For now, I fully welcome people asking to pick my brain. I’m not exactly know as an expert in my field, yet, so it’s helping me hone my people helping skills as well as grounding me deeper in the knowledge of my particular area. I’m using it as a tool. Almost like doing free consultations to build up experience. But I will look to those who’ve picked my brain and ask them for ‘reviews’ and recommendations to others they know. And once I’ve really got the ball rolling, I know it won’t be beneficial to me anymore.

    Great topic, as always. Thank you Marie!

  202. The client vs. question script is great. That’s the triage you need to do to make sure you don’t inadvertantly blow off a great opportunity. I had a multimillion dollar opportunity start out with a request for coffee that sounded like any other request for coffee.

    Ask what they’d like to connect about.

    This allows you to either put them into your client development cycle OR say “I’m booked for coffee, but I’ll be at XYZ event next month. I bet you’d like it, let’s see each other there.”

  203. I am a current brain picker, but I think I handle it elegantly. I do research and make sure there is something valuable I can offer the brain being picked and if i can’t think of something then I don’t ask for a meeting. The more collaborative it can be the better and I am always going with the intention to be a strategic partner rather than someone just siphoning information.

  204. Holy Macaroni! I totally needed to hear this!

    Thank you so much Marie 🙂

  205. Thank you Marie!! This couldn’t come at a better time. I recently gave a presentation at a national conference and ever since I’ve received emails from people asking me questions about marketing, growing their biz, you name it.

    I’m still in the middle of B-School, growing my own biz and have a toddler – I don’t have time to answer these questions or have my brain picked. Now I’ve got some tools to say no (in a polite way).

  206. Oh yes k!. On both counts, I have been that person , when I have felt stuck and over whelmed with things.. crazy brain.. I am a hairdresser, so i get asked all the time, “so if you could do anything to my hair what would you do? ” And so instead of getting all uppty about it, I have learned.. to !. Carry my business cards with me and hand one to them and tell them , I would love to get to know them and take care of their needs and feel free to give me a call , I do consults for sure. If they want to meet for coffee then I offer that we have free “wonderful coffee” at my work. Cause if they are interested isnt that what we have been working really really hard at ? And Marie.. I remember you saying.. be a shamless hussy.. Probably one of my fave lines!. Thats me. And to address my own badness here.. I had to learn to value myself and see that taking something I had not outwardly earned on my right, was not mine for the plucking. !. Hard lesson. 🙂 d PS> have a fab holiday.. woo hoo for you !.

  207. Monica Cuevas

    Thank you Marie, this is very useful. I get this on and on, I spend time, money and energy researching and then I am asked for advise… with no payment ever…. your tips will help me in the future. I do feel guilty to say no or ask for money but I also have a great deal of problems keeping my mouth shut, instead I let all the info out. Then I feel bad I did it and also feel taken advantage of. Thanks again.

  208. Awesome Marie, you knocked this one out of the park! The responses you shared are perfect. I feel like I just picked your brain !

    Have a great rest of the day!
    Todd Gragg

  209. I’ve done a pretty good job of setting boundaries around this stuff when it’s clearly related to my business, but it just hit me recently that this happens all the time with other things, and it’s got to stop!

    I live abroad, in a location that many people love to visit, and I get emails all the time from friends asking for tips or if their friend/coworker/cousin can contact me because they’re coming to town. I have given out so much information, and met up with a lot of people, and because I enjoy meeting new people, for a long time I didn’t realize this was essentially the same thing Marie’s talking about in this video!

    I just recently got another email along these lines, and decided it was time to make a change. I took a few minutes to copy all of the tips I’d given to others into a “canned response” in my Gmail, and I sent that along, saying that I didn’t have time to meet or be in direct contact with the coworker but that my friend could pass along this info. Seems to have satisfied everyone, and I still feel like I was helpful without giving it a lot of my time and effort.

    And now I can do the same if anyone else comes crawling out of the woodwork. Phew!

    • I hear you! I’ve lived overseas for years and just joined an online personal and professional development network. When I mentioned in my introduction that I live in Latin America, what do you think the first thing that happened was? People reached out wanting to pick my brain about tourist spots, travel, etc. So I just nicely say that I’d be happy to talk about that in a paid session with me. Actually, now, after years of being used as a free information source and not getting anything in return, the minute I feel the energy shift in a conversation and feel them getting out their brain gardening tools to work on me, I immediately let them know that I offer the information in professional, one-on-one education/coaching sessions and that I’d be happy to go into more details during a paid, scheduled session, but right now is just not a good time for it.

  210. Yep. That’s why we do building surveys. That way we get paid for the information that clients are always asking for. So I always encourage the Boss-Man to steer a potential into a building survey.

    Personally, I am always brain picked. But that usually benefits me later.

  211. Lots of people have been generous about letting me pick their brains, and I like to pay it forward. However, there’s one annoying area of my life – I used to sell full time on eBay, have no time to even sell my own things anymore, and inevitably when someone finds this out, they approach me with a “Hey, I have a [insert worthless piece of junk here] to sell, could you sell it for me? I will give you a cut of the profits.”

    In this case I say “I’d love to teach you how to sell on eBay so you can do it yourself via your own account.” It’s a give a man a fish and he eats for a day, teach a man to fish and he eats for life kinda thing. “Why don’t you get an eBay account and a Paypal account set up and we’ll get together and I’ll teach you. It only takes about 10 minutes and I swear, it’s easy.” I have never heard back from a single person after this exchange.

    • annieholly

      brilliant becky! I love that you offered to teach people yet no one bothered to learn from you and take you up on the offer even if it only took 10 minutes of their time. People are funny! 😛

  212. Thank you so much- I am known for being generous with advice- but I just don’t have the time anymore- and when it is a stranger who wants advice on getting into voice-overs but doesn’t feel he needs my voice training program- Oh Please! I have been ignoring and dodging people- no more!

  213. Ironically,there are a lot of motivational speakers and books out there that advise people who are getting started to find someone whose work they admire, and ask them for advice. I guess I can see both sides.

  214. I get a ton of emails with “quick” questions all the time. In the beginning I really tried to answer them all and help people… but it takes a ton of time, so now I have a rule–if I have a second to link to an article on my site or answer it in a minute or less, I will, otherwise I have a “pick my brain” skype call offer or a per e-mail “pick my brain” offer. I stopped wasting my time because I really learned how valuable my time is.

    I also stopped giving away FREE offers to my big money making program. I quickly learned that when people get something for FREE, they do not value it. The drop out rate of “poor me, I have no money to do you program, but must save my life” when it was a FREE offer, was over 80%, so I will NEVER do it again. When people PAY for something, they value it that much more… and I think I am TOTALLY WORTH $$$ people spend on talking to me ;).

  215. Lisa

    Love this and I will now incorporate a “Pick My Brain” offer in addition to our “consultation fee based” appointment. Thanks so much!

  216. Thanks for this video. As a published author, I often have people wanting to meet for coffee to ask me how I got published and pick my brain about writing etc. I direct them to a wonderful book called, Putting your passion into print. I tell them that it has everything from A-Z from writing a book, to getting it published and promoting it. Far more info than I could ever give them over coffee.

  217. I love you, Marie! This is all too timely. Glad to have these handy scripts!

    My friend, Rich Litvin, has another way of handling this:
    “She said, ‘Let’s meet up for a chat over coffee.’
    I replied, ‘I don’t really do chats. But if you would like to experience a deep coaching conversation, then call me. I will block out two hours for you for a powerful, life-changing experience…'” (from his book, The Prosperous Coach)

  218. I just have to add my thumbs up — I found this via Founding Moms, and it is such a classic trap that many service providers/consultants fall into. Thanks for the fantastic, practical advice!

  219. Thank You! This is a biggie for me! I get exhausted and annoyed from all of the “coffee date” requests from friends. I turn them down now because I know that a $2 coffee will end up costing me $150-300 from not seeing other clients because I am exhausted by the brain picker and the time it took. Now, I just need to get a script for first date brain picker guys that are super interested in learning about tantra and love coaching. I love the idea about sending them to my articles or cheap products when they can’t afford my hourly price. High five!

    • Debra, I totally agree with you about hourly price! Great idea!

  220. AMEN! Thank you for this post Maria! Those are awesome tips. I usually say yes to people picking my brain if I know I can use them somewhere down the line for fellow pro-bono work. I’m too nice a lot of times, and have been thinking about charging people so these scripts are just what I needed. Thanks!


  221. WOW!! A much needed q + a, thanks Marie! I get this question all the time and admittedly sometimes I say no and feel so bad but it’s good to know that I shouldn’t feel bad, my time is valuable and so is every other smartie pie in these comments!


  222. Yes, YES! This happens to me often and I always feel so guilty or “put on the spot” when I get asked to have my brain picked. I don’t mind helping a friend out or giving someone some info to help them learn and to help build a rapport for potential clients down the road, but some people you know are just using and abusing your knowledge. Thanks so much for the words of advice…very much appreciated in my world and my business!

  223. Adam

    Nice video/post!
    Old boss said it best – help 1x is being nice. help a 2nd time, even nicer… after that all is resolved with the simple statement: “You know, I make a living at this and my rates are X”.. 2 outcomes. Paid new client, or no more leech.
    And yes, I own my mom a visit as well. ugg.

  224. Patricia

    WEB DESIGNERS: What do you do with clients who take up waaaaay too much of your time (they LOVE to talk and can’t seem to stop)? I have one client who keeps me on the phone for 1-2 hours at a time, and wants to meet for 2 hours just to discuss a landing page design!

    After much thought and agony, I later told her that we don’t need 2 hours, just an hour would do, but I’m inclined to tell her that I charge an hourly fee for my time, because I’ve had clients who just can’t seem to stop talking about their personal lives (and we only have 8 hours in a day to work)! I’ve told clients that I charge an hourly rate, however, little, and they become SUPER efficient during our conversations, it’s funny!

    Do you charge for meeting time that goes beyond the initial consultation (ie. 30-60min)? If so, is it the same rate as your hourly design rate or do you charge less?

  225. LOVED the video. Now that my business is really taking off I get lots of people either asking me nutrition/health questions or other coaches asking how I’ve built my business to where it is. I always try to be as gracious as possible but I just don’t have the FREE time for answering those questions.

    I will be creating my “buy me coffee/pick my brain” paid page today!

  226. Patricia

    Forgot to say: I’ve been told we’re not supposed to charge for an initial consultation, but have heard that, when starting out, we should offer free 30-60 min. consultations with people, which contradicts the “no-free advice” rule. I’ve also heard we’re not supposed to charge for our time initially, is this true? How many web designers out there DO charge for your meeting time?

    • Patricia, I’m not a web designer, but may I share my own feeling on this?

      It’s your business. I think you should do what feels right for you. I’ve found that everyone will say there is a “rule.” The rules will change. I’m willing to bet, if I were to Google this, I could find two equally compelling articles stating free consults are the rule and no free consults are the rule. You know what I think the rule is? What you feel is the right path for you, your business, and your relationship with potential clients.

      [Personally, I give it all away. My personal philosophy is that knowledge and expertise is meant to be shared. I still hold the ability and expertise of executing the task and clients come to me for that because I was willing to be so open and giving with them.]

  227. Chris Eastman

    I tend to be flexible on matters such as these.

    For real friends I’ll pretty much do anything so a “pick your brain” session is not that big of a deal. These are people who would do anything for me, so I’ll do anything for them.

    For colleagues and acquaintances I offer a trade… “You can ‘pick my brain’ if you listen to my new ‘sales pitch’ at the end of our meeting.” When the time is right I offer them a deal they can’t refuse…

    Some sign up. Others don’t. That is the nature of business. If nothing else, I get better at sales. That is the nature of self-improvement.

    I hope this helps.

  228. Great episode Marie! So funny, I just had an email last week from an acquaintance, who saw my new website (since B-school), and wanted to get together to discuss my new model and some of her marketing & ideas (basically brain-picking but didn’t use those words).
    I’ve now had 3 emails back and forth and watching your episode I realized how much energy it’s taking just to set up a time to meet!
    You’ve convinced me to release, wish her well, and focus on my biz (lord knows I have enough to do!).
    Thanks for making me aware of this phenomenon.
    And I just got back from Italy – hope you have an amazing time. I’m still feeling very relaxed 😉

  229. 1st off let me say this video is brilliant! We as women feel so bad about saying NO. I had the same issue and like many of the women above decided to put together a “quickie coaching call” for people who wanted to pick my brain. BEST thing I ever did!

    Thanks Marie and thanks ladies for sharing!

  230. Carlos Flores

    Hi Marie:

    Why don’t you have a Linkedin link to share your work on that platform?

  231. Great post – Thanks to Lewis Schiff for pointing me to it as the result of a post I made on my blog along similar lines called “Are You An Askhole?” – – I love your strategy. Keep up the good work.

  232. It is this very issue, having to say no to pickers who will never be buyers, that kept me from stepping out more publicly for years! I had to reconcile with a solution/script to become more brave. Like your Q-er in this Q&A, publicity from a flattering award I recently received for my work opened the door to all sorts of inquiries. When I’m feeling confident and safely in my own groove, it’s very easy to say to no in favor of the yeses to the three things I really want: clients paying full rate, time investing in my next project or time goofing off. I’m saving your scripts for times when I feel tempted to cave with a yes I don’t mean.

  233. I’ve been in those situations. Related to that, I’ve received you’ve-been-mentioned-notifications on social media platforms where friends or clients [former and current] have offered my services to someone. “You should talk to Wendie Tobin. She’d be able to give you some advice on that.”

    I always appreciate the nod, but I’m quick to diffuse any impression that I’m Lucy Van Pelt, sitting at her 5¢ advice booth. I get right on it with a gracious but firm, “Thank you for thinking of me, xxx. I’m always happy to help, but I also want to be upfront so there are no surprises. My fee for that service is xxx.”

  234. Kimber Wolfe

    This is such a great episode! In my industry, there are a lot of people that will ask professionals in the industry to teach or present FOR FREE… and if it’s local and convenient to them, many of them do. In a way, I feel like it contributes to the ghettoization of the industry as a sort of seedy hobby. It’s frustrating. I’ll probably be using your scripts some day.

  235. Awesome. As usual! I get mounds of emails daily and have always made it my policy to get back to every one. Many people ask for advice, and I give it freely. I’d always seen it as just living my truth, letting my light shine, but now I see that I may be training my followers to not value my time. Will definitely need to come up with something here (using your tools of course!)

    There was one item that I didn’t quite agree with – when people contact me to grow their networks. I LOVE connecting with like minded entrepreneurs and will always make time for them, even if it’s a quick 15 minute Skype date, regardless of how busy I am. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve completed the calls and then; just a couple days later, that person ends up wowing me with something awesome – a new connection, client, recommendation, reference, whatever the case may be.

  236. I often get asked for a chance to “get to know me better” over coffee. Like you, I don’t have the friggin’ time to have coffee three times a day! Nor do I want to give away all my intellectual property. I love all three of Marie’s scripts and I’d like to suggest another: How about if you bring three people who I would like to meet (and then I am very specific about the type of customer I am seeking) and I’ll invite three people who I think would be beneficial for you to meet and then we can make really good use of the time. I take charge and run the meeting – which ends up being more a networking event. In and out in 60 minutes. We each have a chance to talk about our business and I have not exposed my brain for picking, yet got the opportunity to meet at least four people who I can now start building a realtionship with to see if I can help them with marketing their businesses in the future.

  237. Melanie

    Oh my goooooosh!!! Marie is coming to Italy!!!! Any chance you are coming to see the CINQUETERRE or PORTOVENERE, Viareggio, Lucca, Pisa???? I surely don’t want to pick your brain ……..but I would love to have a capucchino with you, if by chance you are passing near. Ti aspettiamo! 🙂

  238. Dan watts

    If you want me to answer the questions from your video, I’m going to have to ask you how much you value my time?

  239. that was awesome!

  240. Thank you so much, Marie for doing this video.

    I literally wrote down ever response and I’m going to use them when appropriate! 🙂

  241. This happens to me all the time!! Thank you for this help in dealing with this. A couple things I have done in the past like, (since I teach yoga) if you want to see me you can come to my yoga class since that is time I set aside for others. OR I tell them they can go on a hike with me and my pup (since I do that every day anyways). I don’t have time to sit around and bullshit or worse-get drained! I love you Marie. Thank you!

  242. K

    As someone who is just starting out in her career, I didn’t feel great about this video. I’m so thankful for the people who have carved out time to grab lunch or chat for 20 minutes to let me pick their brains. If someone is deliberately trying not to spend money on your product or abusing your time I understand, but don’t forget about those of us who are green in the field and want the advice of admired mentors.

    PS I make sure to support those who give me their time with my dollars, network and/or support. I’m appreciative of every busy person who’s said to me, “Sure, I’ll give you 15 minutes.”

  243. Barbara

    This was great, Marie, I love what you do, and I’m sharing this one with my husband. On the one hand he’s always said, “information is free”, which drives me crazy, because he’s been so generous and given away a lot of info. But on the other hand, he loves to share the story about a customer of his who is a concert pianist, and was tired of people asking him to play something while he was a guest at a party. (Not unlike cornering a doctor at a party, “Hey, doc, wouldjya take a look at this thing on my butt?”!!) So the pianist took up the ukulele, and surprised everyone when, at a party, they requested he play something and he’d pull out his uke! That, he enjoyed doing. As opposed to playing on the piano, which was work.

    I do have a question tho’, and it came up just an hour ago when I was on the phone w/ my mom. We’re making plans to visit family out of state in a couple weeks, where we’ll see everyone at a Saturday night dinner. I have a cousin who’s a lawyer, and a brother-in-law who’s a financial consultant. My husband and I are looking at some financial and legal questions these days, so during this phone conversation with mom, she said I should talk to David about such-n-such, and talk to Dan about yadayada…. But that’s kinda like this exact topic (how timely!). I don’t wanna take advantage of the expertise of family members. But then again, if I don’t turn to them, they may be hurt that I didn’t, and my parents will wonder why, too, because in their eyes, family is family, and they would expect services to be free. And yeah, while I don’t wanna take advantage, if a family discount is offered, of course I’d like to know about it.

    Any thoughts anyone?

    • You could get in touch with David and with Dan. Say you are after financial advice and who do they think you should talk to. That puts the ball in their court, gives them a chance to say “me”, but also gives them the option to say “Mary”.

  244. Gabriela

    Great Advice as always, but I have a question. What is the best way to get advice from successful people besides reading books and watching videos? What is the best way to go about this for someone who has been unemployed for a long time and is trying to transition into a completely different industry? I understand that people’s time is valuable but what do i do if I have very limited funds?


  245. I love those three scripts. Would you believe when people find out I am a chiropractor they actually ask me for an adjustment and are serious. I think it is harder for the average person to understand when “picking your brain” for your intellectual property that they don’t understand they are actually being rude because after all it is just conversation. They don’t realize all of the time that went into your expertise for you to have something of value to pick. This is provided you don’t have counselor at law under your name.

  246. Kalpana

    This is an interesting debate. I am not currently running a business but in my life I have asked a lot of people to pick their brain and to meet for coffee and usually most people (men, mostly, have helped me). One guy who edited my showreel asked me to donate to his favoured charity which I could afford to do. Referring a person to Q&As, blogs and websites are appropriate responses if they really are people you do not know, but if someone is asking you for coffee to pick your brain, they would not ask you unless there is some genuine friendship/acquaintance. Is it the case that once you are successful and earning $$$$$ you forget about all the people who took the time to help you along the way and you don’t feel any obligation to help those who are coming after you, unless you are being paid of course.

  247. Marie,
    I always enjoy your content and your delivery. Thanks for sharing so much of what you know for FREE!

    I feel somewhat chagrined because I read a book once by an incredible businessman named Jim Collins. He said that the best way to learn things you don’t know is by asking people who know more than you. He recommended contacting people (even well known business gurus) and asking them for an odd number of minutes of their time (9 minutes, 11 minutes, etc.) to ask them some business related questions. I have done this SO many times and have always been pleasantly surprised at the business leaders who give me the asked for time. I’m always very respectful of the time they allot for me, and I always send a nice gift as a thank you, but I NEVER even for one second thought I was being rude by asking. YIKES!

    Honestly though, the people I’ve reached out to over the years have always ended our time together by saying, “Feel free to reach out again if you have any follow up questions.” Is there never a case where it’s okay to ask people further down the road if they will teach us?

  248. cj

    I completely understand that the “pick your brain” concept has become I bit of a networking nightmare and yes intellect/knowledge/experience does come at a cost as does everything else. Although there has to be something said for connecting and offering, maybe not everyone can afford it etc (does that mean there not worth helping?)… I’m sure that as most savvy entrepreneurs there was someone somewhere that gave you a bit of info in good faith. And if not, wouldn’t it have been nice if there was? Pls note I’m not at all saying that you don’t deserve to be paid.

    Im definitely not saying meet with every Tom, Jane & Harry but maybe to not shut the door completely either. You could be shutting out someone who could be potential value for you?!
    I’ve had some of the most amazing experiences and business partnerships forming out of this exact method.

  249. THX for this video, inspiring as always, really love it!

  250. I have two ways of responding in this situation, depending on the nature of the request.

    1) If it’s a business related question, I direct them to and tell them to sign up for the newsletter!

    2) Some of my friends want to see my for yoga and bodywork. I don’t like charging a “friend rate” because I find it cheapens what I do, but I don’t want to turn away friends in need. So I started a free monthly Friday where I see friends absolutely free of charge, but use that time to work on news skills/techniques that I’m trying to hone. That we, were are both learning, giving, and receiving in the scenario. Win-win!

  251. Annette MacKay

    I get this all the time. Not for picking my brain, but for alterations. I sew. It seems very few people sew these days or think it’s worth paying for. I get asked all the time if I would hem pants, skirts, sleeves, take something in, make curtains, or make a simple slip cover. Boring! I sew because I like making things, or to save myself some dollars.

    Saying no all the time was horrible. I’d feel guilty and they’d feel unloved. But the truth is if I said yes to even the little jobs, all I’d be doing all day is alterations for free.

    I figure that given enough money however, I’d be happy to sew pretty much anything. So now when asked I say “of course, I’d love to help you out with that. My rate is $60 an hour.” 99% of the time that’s the end of the conversation. The other 1% – I like sewing, it’s nice to be paid for it. When that slips over 1-2% I’ll raise my rates.

  252. I love this topic! I always have the problem of wanting to help people so much that I give too much away for free! Thank you for reminding me that my knowledge is currency and I don’t have to “give it away”. I find that what I would consider just being nice is actually costing me lots of money! The fact that I’m not getting paid by the person I’m giving free advice to is secondary to the fact that I COULD be doing something that WOULD be generating some income in the time I’m spending with the info leech! And that’s a lose-lose!

    Thanks also for the scripts that help me not sound like a d-bag myself! 😛

  253. Christine

    i love your videos! thank you 😉

  254. Apparently there is this rumour going around that I’m a cheap date … for the price of a lousy coffee you’re able to “pick my brains” aka “Get a Free Consultation” — worth over $300 & taking years to attain — for less than $2. It’s NOT true … You have to buy me a donut as well 🙂 But all kidding aside, it’s not that I object to giving people some free advice from time to time, the problem is this (and I’ve tested it) if they don’t pay, they don’t value it and subsequently they often don’t follow the advice and fail to gain the results they wanted. Ironically, when I doubled my fees a few years back my sales increased, my client commitment increased and guess what … the results the clients achieved increased too! So yes, I’ll chat to you over a coffee … but I’ll not give you much in the way of “trade secrets” because you’ll not value them or apply them. Sad but true.

  255. Fantastic scripts Marie!

    I will usually offer a few tips then direct them to other resources. You’re scripts will definitely help.

    When I am seeking information from others I am mindful of their time, ask specific brief questions and try to offer something of value to them.


  256. Inquisitive

    YEEEES! Right on & thanks so much! I am printing and practicing these scripts this week!

  257. Great tips on how to keep them at bay. Usually I tell them to:
    1. Read a specific book which I know answers their questions or
    2. Get a life coach or
    3. Direct them to Marie F.
    Funny how when I tell them to read a specific book I know will answer their questions and then ask them to get back to me with any specific questions they may have next… guess what? THEY NEVER DO! Showing someone where to find the information rather than spoon-feeding it to them, is much better for all involved anyway.

  258. OMG That third script is awesome! I so need that thanks Marie. I am grateful to be blessed with more amazing friends than I spots in my schedule and always feel bad when someone cool wants to hang and I don’t have the time. But I don’t want to take time away from my family and my besties. This is going to be be so helpful

  259. Thank you for sharing this advice …
    This happens to me ALL the time.
    I am an Interior Designer … so if people i know ask me for advice on which sofa or colour they should have on their walls to match the rug … thats all theyre asking right? … just the colour of a wall ? so its just a question ? NNNNNOOOOO it is not just a question…. or its not just an answer ….. it is 20 years of decorating experiece from around the world !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! PAY UP “FRIENDS”‘.
    As you could imagin … being the creative type , money wasnt a priority at first (this has changed and I am now confident in getting what I deserve) BUT I have ALWAYS worked in my field…… while many of my friends who seem to ask for this fee advice have been academic and studied for years and years and now are raking in the cash from their law or medical degrees. I wouldnt ask them to treat me for free or represent me for free. It just total disrepect and if one of them says to preface the ‘brain picking question’ with …ÿour so good at this so I was just wondering…”(question) . OF COURSE IM GOOD AT IT… IVE WORKED MY ARSE OFF FOR 20 YEARS AND HAVE TRAVELLED and BEEN TAUGHT BY A MAN WHO HAS BEEN KNIGHTED IN THE WORLD FOR HIS DESIGN. ……………………….PAY UP PEOPLE ….. FREE RIDE IS OVER !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Said of course in my very yogic way 🙂
    Thank Marie
    ps…. I also have a soft furnishing range and they want my cushions as a birhtday present…….. i cant rememeber them EVER giving me a $200 birthday present !

  260. Perfect timing once again on this video, Marie 🙂 This is something I have been dealing with for way too long. In my industry, I have definitely had a few friends wanting to pick my brain the more successful I become. In the early days I was generous but when I realized the real intention behind their desire to meet for coffee, I chose to use a more tactful approach by staying neutral and not divulging any helpful info but making the conversation more casual. Other times, I have had to simply ignore or delete email requests but like you mentioned Marie, this doesn’t really work. Now, I am very selective of who I associate myself. But what do you do if you have a relative who copy-cats your career and uses sneaky ways to find out info through another relative or using fake charm whenever they are in your presence?

  261. Awesome advice Marie – for me I would exchange “mama” for “my kids”! I turned down an old acquaintance recently citing that if I met up with her, it would be taking time away from my young children, who definitely need to see a bit more of mum at the moment while I’m working on my business.

    Worked a treat!

  262. This rarely happens to me anymore because I think I have the energetic boundary in place now that repels the “brain pickers”. You only have to say no a few times before the Universe realises that you’re not open for business in that way.

    Another great tip is to write a book!

    I have two books now and they are a great and inexpensive way for people to get to know me, without doing a face to face.

    So good luck with the boundary lessons everyone! Business really is the best personal development ever.

    And nobody ever writes back to a polite decline with “You’re such a bitch for saying no!”

  263. Hi Marie – thank you SO much for today’s episode! This has started happening to me recently, and I haven’t known really how to handle it. In fact, it just amped up last week.

    There’s a scenario you didn’t name that I thought I would share, and that’s the classic or popular “we-use-to-be-friends-but-haven’t-talked-in-3-years-but-now-I-need-to-write-you-on-Facebook-and-“pick-your-brain” scenario. Which is a bit frustrating. I think sometimes peeps mean well, but it doesn’t look good to not speak to someone for almost 4 years, then suddenly you’re writing asking “how are things going?” then the very next email is asking to “pick your brain and please call me – here’s my number.” Like they just expect you to be there and call.

    I think I can use the script you offered for not having anything for sale, even though I do, because this person isn’t even my right client. So, in case there’s anyone else out there with this scenario, maybe this will help. You may not be able to direct them to your service if it’s not relevant, so then it’s in your court to either create a consultant rate on the spot or say no.

    Another option (if the services you DO provide aren’t even right for them), is to just say….”Hey, ________ – It’s good to hear from you. I’d love to meet up or have a phone convo, but with the growth of my business, I can only do so on a consulting basis right now. My current rate is $______.”

    In my experience, it’s normally not new people who have started coming to me for “business advice”, it’s people I knew or have known who are popping up all of a sudden. I think this is another common thing that happens when people start seeing you enter the “succession ring.” I think it’s natural and human to want to be a part of someone’s success you used to know, but I love this episode because it takes an assertive (not passive…such as ignoring the email) to dealing with it…and early on.

    Hope this is helpful to someone.

  264. rts

    Thanks for the post. I am a PhD student in anthropology, and this means I pretty much pick people’s brains all the time. I need to ask people I don’t know to share their expertise with me on a variety of topics. The truth is, it is hard to ask people for their time. I can sit up at night fretting about whether I am a pain for everyone I talk to for taking up their time. I know what it is like to work up the guts to walk up to someone and ask for an interview, and what it is like to talk myself out of it and walk away kicking myself for missing an opportunity. I also know–having gone through this experience–how important it is for me to be generous with my time if it is possible for me to do so; how I have a responsibility to share my expertise with others after so many have shared their expertise with me asking nothing in return.

    I have two comments about this video:
    1) I appreciate it when people say no to my requests for an interview. I appreciate it because it confirms for me that I have a right to ask. My concerns about being a burden on people all revolve worrying that they won’t feel comfortable saying ‘no’, and that I should somehow protect them from the discomfort of actually saying ‘no’ to me by not asking in the first place. The truth is, I have a right to ask; and they have a right to say no. Second guessing that causes a lot of problems, and it is nice to not need to worry about that.

    2) That said, I would also argue that expertise in the field of helping people comes in part from genuinely wishing others well. If money making gets in the way of that, then it seems to me that you are undermining your own expertise. Another way of saying that is, if–in order to sell your self help materials/advice–you present yourself as a caring loving person genuinely interested in helping others, but you refuse to help people unless you get paid to do so, then it seems to me you are presenting people with a lie. You certainly have a right to profit from your own expertise; but is that really your primary objective, the reason you do what you do? If so, it absolutely makes sense to turn people away who want your help. But would you prefer to buy a self help book written by someone who deeply believes in what they are saying and has helped everyone they know, or someone who smiles at you because they are paid to?

    In any case, I am not a self help expert, so I have no idea what sort of challenges you face. I don’t mean my comments to sound harsh or critical, but I will be honest in saying that only helping others when you receive payment seems to me like it would run the risk of undermining your expertise.

  265. Ahhh this was a great video! A while back this was happening all the time people picking my brain and then literally using our conversation for there next blog or PR.
    It was facinating watching myself respond to these people with this open hearted gush of oh of course here take everything I have gathered the past 20 years – Oh of course I should be open and sharing – falling for the ” we are so much alike and have so many of the same Ideas would love to talk more – thing. ”
    The truth is I like to be alone or with my dear friends and family ! The people I have been meeting for tea and walks- always end up in this grey area of not knowing who they are in my life – do I treat them like a client or can I be casual around them and do the friend thing. This often feels like it dilutes my work – passing off lil bits and pieces that really dont work that way . These people linger inbetween and it never seems to go well in the end. They most of the time need me to be holding a professional stance with them even though they say they want the candidness of friendship til it all back fires and some aspect of my casual humanness offends, again revealing their initial desire to be held as a client not a “friend/college” they proceed to judge my work and business from this interaction – go into gossip mode and we cut off ties !
    These are usually people who start with brain picking – then want to give my work a try but cant afford it- then want to do trade and in the process want to be acknowledged their work and how fabulous they are and how I should work with them – yada yada – it is a big mess that I recently starting to sort out and recognize earlier in the game . All having to do so much with self worth, need for people to like me and establishing clear boundaries all ways – no matter what .
    Here is what is working for me to start to shift this personal hell realm!
    1- When meeting people make a decision right there – to go down a friend path or a client path with them and then proceed accordingly – DO NOT OVERLAP – NO MATTER WHAT THEY SAY OR TRY TO CONVINCE YOU OFF. It does not work unless a client stops working with you , time passes and your reconnect as friends /collegues and not walk that path . ( Now I do have some very old dear friends that come in for a session once in awhile – but that is a different situation )

    2 – No matter how the conversation goes less is more – do not pour out all your inspiration and ideas to anyone – always keep the conversation simple and refer it back to them – ” OH how fabulous sounds like your really inspired – or good at ———– . Dont take the bait of trying to prove your experience to people less experienced comparing themselves to you ! It is a trap that even they do not know they have set.

    3- Q & A Consult : I started with with clients and students who had a quick question so rather then paying for a whole consult they have the freedom to pay a dollar a minute to ask a question and receive an answer. Push the timer and off you go . At the end you send them the bill. Now I offer this to the Brain Picker/tea date types – I say – Oh I would be happy to have a conversation and share what I am up to – I have this great service – for mentoring – you just get clear about your question and then calll up and a dollar a minute… ”
    They often tend to back off from the whole conversation thing and just come in for a session .

    Feels so Good to find clarity and speak your truth with no guilt obligation etc. ! I am still in the learning curve of it all . Lost some really lovely women along the way being bad with my boundaries but getting better every day.
    Videos like this are so empowering to remember and apply self worth and good boundaries – and no it does not make you a bitch or arrogant . It actually seems to help everyone out, everyone involved feels more relaxed and clear !
    Good luck everyone
    Thanks for all the great comments !

  266. Mary

    Years ago, when reading the Millionaire Next Door, I became aware of how annoyed successful folks were with the perpetual offer to “take you to lunch and pick your brain.” (They, too, turned down the offer of lunch and told the person to schedule a consulting appointment.) That nugget of insight has been useful for judging the value of others’ time and advice, as well as my own time and advice.

  267. I am so using the “Mama” excuse! I do owe Nana a visit as well as a backlog of grocery items that never made it to her.

  268. I have a lot of trouble with that last one – when people want coffee to “see how we might work together” or “partner up to help our clients”. It’s usually really obvious to me when it’s a good fit, and when it’s not, I don’t know how to say no without wrecking the possibility they might introduce me to someone I really want to work with later.

    Wow, it just occurred to me that some of these people might also know it’s not a good fit, and their motive is actually to get free consulting.


    But the worst is when you use a script like this and the person says “Sure, no problem! I’ll contact you again in a month.” And then a month later they’re knocking on your door again.

  269. Marie-

    Great vid. I am excited to use these scripts soon! Sorry if someone asked already but where did you get your dress!? It is amazing!

  270. I cringe every time someone asks if they can “pick my brain” (as in, I see it literally and it’s hurts). I share a lot for free (many say I give away far too much), but the moment someone uses this one specific phrase a massive brick wall flies up in front of me, and they get nothing in exchange. It’s a complete turn off.

    I do have a little “20 minute Rescue” call on my site and it’s super affordable (not much more than a latte & a muffin) and feels like a healthy energy exchange to me.
    Awesome conversation!

    • Oh, and there’s another phrase that makes my hair stand on end, “I can learn a lot from you.” It is usually uttered by someone who has no intention of being a paying client. Ever.

  271. This happens to me constantly. As soon as I tell people I’m a naturopathic doctor I hear about everyone’s health concerns. This happens everywhere from social situations to business meetings.

    I usually deak out politely like this:

    “Sounds like it’s been quite a journey, and you deserve my complete attention to help you solve that problem. However, this is not the best environment for that. We need to take the time in a quiet and focused space to really dig into what is going on for you and why it may be happening. I am accepting new patients, and I’d be happy to take you on.”

    If that doesn’t work, aka, they persist, I fall back on this (which is true):

    “I actually can’t legally give you medical advice with out taking a full case history and performing a physical exam. I’m pretty sure from what you’ve said that I’d be able to help, but it has to be done by the books, or my ability to practice becomes compromised. You get that, right?”

  272. This happens to me constantly. As soon as I tell people I’m a naturopathic doctor I hear about everyone’s health concerns. This happens everywhere from social situations to business meetings.

    I usually deak out politely like this:

    “Sounds like it’s been quite a journey, and you deserve my complete attention to help you solve that problem. However, this is not the best environment for that. We need to take the time in a quiet and focused space to really dig into what is going on for you and why it may be happening. I am accepting new patients, and I’d be happy to take you on.”

    If that doesn’t work, aka, they persist, I fall back on this (which is true):

    “I actually can’t legally give you medical advice with out taking a full case history and performing a physical exam. I’m pretty sure from what you’ve said that I’d be able to help, but it has to be done by the books, or my ability to practice becomes compromised. Does that make sense?”

  273. Pam

    I have a repeat brain picker who’s the brother of a high school friend. He keeps telling me he has so many questions, admires what I do. I replied back to a question today letting him know I offer support with 1:1 coaching and I’m also launching a group program next month where I’m providing support through a private facebook page.
    I see people go out and buy those gimmicky programs, but they want something for free from people they know.
    I appreciate the ideas of how to respond in such cases!

  274. webly Alfred

    Wow my experience has been completely different. I’ve been willing and offered to pay several time to pick people’s brain that I admire, and most not all, have been a big disappointment. They are so wrapped up in me me me that they don’t see a new client flashing money at them. Because of that I make this my rule of thumb to know who is real, confident, professional and really know their stuff. If you are that good you don’t say no to money because you are afraid people will still your ideas or whatever the lack mentality stuff going on in your head. That’s how I screen those who believe in helping others get what they want to get what they want. That’s one of the reasons I love B-School and especially signed up through Nathalie Lussier. Nathalie is confident, yes she charges for her services but the quality is great, I don’t see her stuff as someone who is charging and arm and a leg for a so-so work and her professionalism makes me want to work over time to pick her brain.

  275. Joycelyn

    I guess I am currently swamped with people who wanna pick my brain over whatsapp. As these people are my downlines in my direct marketing biz, it is difficult not to answer their queries. But I would love to put a stop to the constant disruption of my work to reply these qns. Also at times as much as we wish to help others, if u r into energy work etc, and exchange of $ or donation for yr help will allow the energy of the person that u r helping to flow. Hence better for that person to pay for yr service. An if they pay they may appreciate more

  276. script.. “Sure you can pick my brain, my “pick your brain rate is____”

  277. Bukka

    Personally, I feel like me saying I don’t have time to meet a friend or even a friendly acquaintance comes off a little too “better than thou”, and I feel a little too douchy asking the same to instead buy my product (just how I feel; not suggesting anyone doing this is).

    However, I don’t have a problem revising their offer to “Instead of coffee, buy me dinner at (insert fav somewhat pricey hot spot) and we’ve got a date! I can meet on (insert night I need to get dinner on my own anyway)”.

    Works for me. Might not be good for you, but you’re welcome to it if you think it does.

  278. Our company, Synergy, has this exact same problem. Because we are a new, progressive sustainability firm, everyone wants to find out how they can get involved with the field through us. I didnt want to push people away, but 10 coffees per week was not do-able.

    As a solution, we decided to host “open houses” at the last Thrusday of every month, from 3-4. People can come in and ask any question they want. In addition, they meet new people interested in the same field.

    Best of all, it takes one hour per month.

  279. Angela

    Marie, that was soooo good!!! About 20 years ago, I just started saying NO.
    No is a complete sentence to me. No explanation required. BUT… your techniques are much nicer and effective.

  280. Marie I love this, and all the conversation around it. Not only is this topic helpful in a business sense, it’s also great for honestly and lovingly turning down “in person friend requests” and random dates.

    I often meet really wonderful people, who I’m sure are fun… but I just don’t have the time or energy to go out every night of the week with all these different people. But sometimes it’s awkward telling a guy, or gal, “Hey, you’re cool, but I’d rather hang out alone on my couch.” Your last script I just used to turn down a date, and it worked like a charm!

  281. Hey Marie,
    I do have one quick question, and I totally welcome other viewers opinions. But I am in need of some wording to script to potential clients that want to meet me before they make a booking, but I seriously don’t have the time as I book work all over the country. How do I get them to commit to being my client without having to take hours of time to go meet them?
    Oooh thankies!!!

  282. I have been on both sides of this one.

    Before I started my businesses, and had money to invest in development, I needed to pick someone’s brain. Now, as a business owner (running 2 businesses), I am often asked out for “brain picking sessions.

    Because I know what it’s like to build, I want to help others when I can. But, I realize that I need to honor my service + the time it took me to master it, by being a good steward of it.

    So, I give a “tithe” of brain picking services away and everyone else must make an investment or catch my weekly newsletter and video.

    Your scripts are always very helpful.

    Thanks for sharing!

  283. Amy

    After reading many of the comments, I’ve come to the conclusion that women are just too nice… myself included (can’t tell you how many times I’ve worked for less to help people out).

    I can’t imagine a man ever doing the same. They know their worth and consistently ask for more than what that is… without feeling guilty in the slightest AND with an air of intimidation about them at times. It’s a trait that starts young, I’ve seen my teenage son behave the same way for years. And, when it’s done, it’s done… they’re not sitting around second-guessing their decision or worried that they hurt someone’s feelings.

    Our biggest obstacle is ourselves at times. With my line of work (creating websites, branding, print and packaging), I’ve found that it’s best to be up front with my pricing and terms from the get-go. For the people that don’t want to adhere to that, I give them some info on how and where they can do things inexpensively themselves… most times they’ll change their mind and want me to do it… can’t beat having the skill of an experienced person. I wouldn’t do my taxes or redo my roof 🙂

  284. Amy

    oops, forgot to add my site

  285. I started being happy to share info – always will be.
    Simply for convenience, I created a system and product that incorporates all that info and I redirect people there. Lots of free info and sources on the website and a fantastic product to put promotions on autopilot.
    Now when I’m asked if I have a few minutes to help – it’s “sure” but after one question, I usually state (as it’s true)
    “To do true justice to your business and I value your time, it’s best to put aside an hour or so to fully address your issues. Here’s my card, get in touch if you’d like to take things to the next level, or just pop onto the website for loads of info” I’d have a 3/5 call back rate from the cards and out of those 2/3 would book in for a session.
    Cool. Bottom line – I don’t usually drink coffee!

  286. Question: what if someone asks you to ‘share your story’? A side way to brain pick 🙂 That exact request came into my inbox today. MY response will be: a quick email back with three things that have helped plus an invite to take a session with me to EXPERIENCE what I do (rather than simply hear about it). I think she’ll truly get more out of that – and so will I.

  287. Hi Marie! Love your videos! I’m confused about this one, because in B-School one of the tips is to interview 5 industry professionals in order to find out more about their biz. If everyone uses this technique then we would never be able to learn from each other and find mentors. Just wondering where the lines and boundaries are. Thanks.

  288. Totally dug this Marie! I’m a nutritionist and I have a product line and people do this to me ALL THE TIME!!!! I need to put a pick my brain offer up on my site! It will really help!

  289. Love this Ms Marie! Your timing is perfect as I’m starting to get a lot of requests via email and in person for my “advice”… I’ve been giving it away too… no more “too nice Karie”… pick a topic and pick a payment is my new reply. Thank you girl!

  290. I have a slightly different scene. I am only doing a Hobby now – but I sell some. It is mostly some Crochet – with some Knitting. There are photos of what I have made myself all over the place — and I do Facebook a lot – and also some Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest.

    What I get are: I really like this – can you give me the pattern?

    Not will you sell it to me, but will you give it to me.

    Now I don’t sell patterns, just finished products — even if it something I designed from scratch — or put together from stitch libraries — or different books — and it is basically my pattern. I just don’t.

    Asking for a pattern you have done — for them to give it to you for free — is sort of another way of them asking to “pick your brain” – especially if it is my design from the bottom up.

    But I already have had to come up with a solution. It is just “no” with an “I’m sorry, I don’t sell patterns”!! Half the time I haven’t even written down the pattern — I do OOAK finished designs for people to buy — not to teach. If there is a book for either a type of Crochet — or a book including Stitch Libraries, I recommend it. If they aren’t willing to buy something to do it, then I figure they are not really serious!! This happens some on Facebook — and also on my You Tube channel.

    I don’t really know if any of them are good enough to copy a pattern from my pictures, but if I figure they can, that they can do it — you see, I am good enough to look at some pictures and figure out how to do some.

  291. I created a pretty popular podcast and radio show (99% Invisible) and I get daily “pick your brain” and “meet me for coffee” requests. I really tend to like these conversations when I have them, but I just can’t spare the time. So began setting up “office hours” in a local cafe. I funnel all those requests into a 2 hour session once a month. If the person takes the trouble to show up, they can ask me anything they like. So far, it’s worked pretty well. I don’t respond directly to any of the “pick your brain” emails, but I publicize the office hours as best I can. I tend to make them during the work day, so it’s a commitment to attend. Usually about 15 people show up. It starts out one-on-one and then turns into a group discussion as more people arrive. Since I don’t have anything to sell, and I rely on support via donations and Kickstarter, this seemed like a good compromise that both builds my community and values my time.

    I’m glad you did the video, because this was something that really vexed me for a while. Good advice.

    • Kate

      I read these comments with disgust. Most of these comments on picking your brain are incredibly arrogant. I am disgusted. Do you people not remember how you GOT TO WHERE YOU ARE IN THE FIRST PLACE? I guarantee it wasn’t without support from others who are earnestly trying to make their way in the world. Unemployment is rampant and you clearly forgot how it all began for you. I understand you’re in the coaching business but you CHOSE the coaching business. Get over yourselves. Your having entirely too much fun filling the air with bad energy.

  292. martien

    dear Marie

    this is so true!
    small extra services are not seen, until when I charge someone, then it’s ‘oh i did not know you’d charge me for this’! or ‘oh this session did not last as long as usual –
    and what about all those sessions that lasted longer and for which i did not charge extra?? _ as I do not stopwatching my work but charge decent fees.
    so, clear boundaries help people get over the ‘I pick your brain for a penny’ -as we like to go Dutch here -in the Dutchies land: the Netherlands.
    and the gut feeling is an important sign: ouuufff here’s going someone off track and over my boundaries!

    have a nice holiday in Italia, and don’t let them pick your brains -they are excellent in that with a big charm…. but you are on holiday!
    and on holy days no one picks and no one therefore needs to charge.

    ciao bella! and thanks for your funny lessons!

  293. Grrrr I am so passionate about this and I even wrote a post about this in 2011 and now I offer coffee with a bill. But here is the interesting thing; my work is really getting busy as a Coach and so when they say ‘let’s meet up’ I am now saying to them spend time with me by coming to my ‘workshop,coaching programme etc’ and I also use the script “t I now charge for consultations” which incidentally rocketed my business to a full time business. Great and timely post. xx

  294. Great advice, Marie! Some great tips on setting boundaries – I particularly loved the “Mama” excuse – very clever!

  295. B’H

    Hi Marie

    I wonder what kind of childhood you had…your parents must be genius and highly loving and positive people!!

    with love

  296. I have had various well-to-do business executives and others to want sit -downs with me to discuss potential projects that they are working on.
    During the course of the conversation, it becomes obvious that they are on a brain picking, work for me for free fishing expedition. At the meeting,I take notes and tell them that I will get back to them within a specific time frame. I then present to them , via email, an independent contractor agreement outlining what is expected of all parties, timelines, total payment expected and payment schedule.
    Not only does it stop them in their tracks, it eventually gets me more respect from the person,and hones MY presentation and proposal skills.

  297. Thank you so much for this Marie. I get this kind of thing as lot as I’m a dietitian, and everyone wants to ask questions about what to eat/not eat lol

    What really bugs me, though, is people I know emailing to ask questions, which I feel I have to reply to since I ‘know’ them, then they don’t even respond with a thank you! It’s difficult to get the balance right.

    Thanks so much for giving me some new perspective on this.

  298. Feel like I spent all day yesterday having my brain picked. Thanks you for these tools to help ward of the people who spend hours asking questions. Friend or not, there is a line.

  299. Dora G.

    By the way, this issue is not exclusive to coaching and consulting. My best friend is a doctor, and she is constantly asked for a medical advice by all sorts of people she comes across in her social life. Whether she can or cannot help, her reply is always the same: “sounds like you have a problem. you better go see your doctor!”. What follows then is usually “but you are a doctor?!”. And then she says “I am a doctor from XXam until XXpm, Monday to Friday, appointment required.” And then she hands in her card.

  300. I love this topic! I am a holistic health coach, and get lots of family and friends who would like to “pick my brain” or just “ask a question” or “get my thoughts” on specific health related topics on a regular basis. Most recently, my cousin’s wife sent me a facebook message asking about juicing, and I guided her to several online resources I’ve suggested to clients, and wished her luck! Well, she’s continued to come back and ask more questions and suggestions for substitutions in her juicing, what to expect, what juicer to buy, how long things stay fresh, etc. I had to be clear and say in a couple ways (twice) that I’d love to help her further with her juicing cleansing, but as I get paid by others to do just that, we would need to work together in a professional relationship. I even went so far as to say I’d give her a “family rate” to work together, but she did eventually stop asking my questions and basically said “Okay! Thanks! I’ll keep it in mind.”

    It’s uncomfortable drawing the line, but really important. Just because it’s a family member or a friend asking for the same advice as a client doesn’t mean they should get it for free. It’s exhausting sending out all that help and information with no payback!

  301. Barbara

    A member of our local chamber contacted me via email yesterday. They’re having a chamber-only (not open to public) party on the beach on a Thursday evening in July, and wanted me to bring drums to do a drumming activity with kids. For free. Here was my response, inspired by what I learned yesterday from Marie and all you wonderful people!

    “Hi Maryanne, thank you for thinking of me. I understand that this is a volunteer event, but I doubt you’re offering your professional physical therapy services for free that evening. It would be one thing if I was volunteering my time to clean up after a cookout, but I am not in a position to volunteer my professional services at this time, exposing my musical instruments to sand, salty air, and children’s hands. It’s not an event that’s open to the general public, which would bring in a larger audience for any promotion my business might enjoy. Thank you anyway, but I will pass. If the chamber decides they’d like to offer a party-wide kids and family drumming experience for 15-20 minutes as an activity that evening, my fee is $75, and I can provide up to 30 instruments for up to 30 people to make music together. Thanks and enjoy the day, Barbara”

    Oh, I feel so relieved! Not another workout for “exposure”!!! Artists die from exposure! And I know it’d bring me NOTHING for my business if I did this event. Chamber members know about me anyway, they can send their kids to my classes if they’re interested, they don’t need me to give them something for nothing.

  302. LOL – Oh, the “let’s get together for coffee” request. I was getting these left and right and just said “no” after getting sucked into a few of them. They either want free consulting or get me sucked into their MLM business. I just flat out tell them my consulting fee now and let them know what appointment times I have available. Then they actually looked insulted!

  303. A few months ago, I had someone attempt to pick my brain… and I wrote all about how ‘stupid’ I felt in a blog post:

    I think you gals will appreciate it!

  304. Alexandra

    Hey Maria,

    Just wanted to say that you are so funny. I love your take on Hip Hop and music in general. This is refreshing since not a lot of people in the business integrate hip hop culture into their thing. Anyway, your tips are very useful but I must say that your videos make me smile and laugh everything time.

    Thank you,

  305. Ohhh! I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this video! So needed it. Sometimes I feel I have a nest of brain pickers on top of my head!

    And who’s fault is it?

    Yours truly of course, I just didn’t know how to handle it without sounding like a R.B. until know!

    Thanks Marie!

    BTW your hair looks more fabulous than ever!

  306. Great video, Marie, thanks!

    It really is great to be direct, but nice about it. This is a must-watch for all entrepreneurs and those who are continually asked to have their brain picked.

    Enjoy Italia! Buon viaggio!

  307. Thanks so much for this video! One question: how do you differentiate between people you actually DO click with, and want to spend time with because it will also support you, from the people who you should ask to pay you?

    It sounds so crazy to ask this, honestly. But I’m a Business Coach, and most of my friends are entrepreneurs, so it’s a line I have to dance around all the time. I would like to make new friends, but I’m wary of the brain-pickers where I’ll end up feeling used and disappointed.

  308. Lina Hollman

    Awesome advice Marie! Enjoy your your Italian viaggio! Hope you get to visit Positano on the Almafi Coast. It’s one of the most beautiful places! Un Abbraccio!

  309. nicoleshoe

    what do you do when the board of an organization wants to “pick your brain”? How do you not piss off a lot of people at once who are connected to many of the communities largest businesses?

  310. Thank you for this, Marie. So timely.

    My business is really starting to boom and there are just so many people who have been trying to get email consulting out of me for free. Not cool.

    I’ve always been generous with my time, but lately I’ve noticed it starting to eat into my project time. I’ve realized that I’ve just got to graciously decline or ask them to make a paid commitment. Otherwise, it’ll just keep sucking my energy and profits dry.

    I love the idea of a “pick my brain” offering or email consulting service.