Fact: If I don’t know you, and you ask to pick my brain, you can, for free, anytime you want to.

Corollary: On my terms.

Here’s my life mantra: I believe that if you’ve had any modicum of success, no matter how small, you have a responsibility to “send the elevator back down,” as it were. And more often than not, that comes in the form of people asking to pick my brain. And I’m happy to let you do that!

But, doing that isn’t as easy as it sounds. Think about it: If I let everyone meet with me whenever they wanted, I’d never get any work done, right? Think about it – A twenty minute coffee is NEVER twenty minutes. It’s the prep. The getting there. The meeting. The getting back to the office. The finding your zone of focus again to start working.

On average, a twenty minute “pick my brain meeting” takes well over two hours from beginning to end.

To put it mildly, NOPE. That simply DOES NOT work for me, my productivity, or my ADHD brain.

You want to pick my brain? I welcome it, and I encourage you to do it. I’m flattered you’d ask, and would be thrilled if something I said was able to help you grow.

But: Our meeting is going to be on my terms, and only my terms.

I’ll give you as much time as you want to take that first “pick my brain meeting” with me, and it won’t cost you a penny. But it will cost you some determination.

See, my terms are a bit out of the ordinary. I’m happy to meet you and give you all the advice you want, about any topic about which I’m knowledgeable. But: We will meet under the following circumstances, and only under the following circumstances:

My “Pick My Brain” Terms

  • Join me for a super-early run (5am) (coffee/meeting right after on me)
  • Join me for a super-early Peloton spin class (6am in studio) (coffee/meeting right after on me)
  • Join me for a super-early coffee (for those who physically can’t work out. I don’t discriminate.) (5:30am)
  • Join me for a Cryotherapy session. (Anytime I go. Coffee/meeting right after on me)
  • Accompany me and pick my brain on a commute to any airport from any city. (Think of this last one as the ultimate Aaron Sorkin “walk and talk.”)

Heck, I’ll even treat you for the Peloton class or Cryo session.

Why are these my terms? Several reasons:

  1. This is some Darwin-level self-selection going on. My terms flat out stop 95% of the “pick my brain” or “twenty minutes for coffee so I can introduce myself to you” requests that come in from ever moving forward, because most people won’t agree to my terms. And you want to know a secret? That’s AWESOME.Why? Because if you believe that my advice, ideas, or investment is valuable, yet you’re not willing to get up early, or get cold or sweaty, or ride a commuter rail or a Lyft to get it from me, then you’re telling me you’re not serious about my help, my investment, or whatever you want from me and speaks volumes to your commitment level (or lack thereof) towards whatever you’re building, needing, or asking for. In other words, my terms kindly let me know that I’d be wasting my time meeting with you, long before I’ve wasted my time meeting with you and finding out in person that you’re not serious. If I’m meeting with you, I want to know you’re passionate about your hustle, as serious as I am, and you’re prepared to do whatever it takes to turn your dreams into your reality.
  2. My terms guarantee I won’t lose focus during my day by mixing two hours of a meeting into it, and that I’ll continue to be productive with very few interruptions. (Again, for the ADHD me or just anyone trying to be more productive, this is mandatory.)
  3. Finally, accepting or rejecting my terms tells me so much of what I need to know about you before we ever sit down face to face.

Pick my brain!The 5% who take me up on meeting on my terms? More often than not, I’m doing business with them, investing in them or their company, or at the very least, am going to add them to my trusted circle.

I put this into play about two years ago, and it works 100% of the time. It also gives me back SO much of my productivity, without my having to constantly turn people down for meetings, which I don’t like doing, because, like I said, I truly believe in paying it forward. Instead, it allows them to turn down their own request. It’s a win-win on all accounts. Like I said – some Darwin-level selection going on here.

And hey – If you don’t want to meet on my terms, I don’t think any less of you. I’m not perfect, and it’s quite possible that you are just as amazing as you think you are. But at this point in my professional life, I can’t risk the time and productivity it takes to find that out blindly.

So yeah. Want to pick my brain? Let’s do it. But only on my terms.

Join the discussion 7 Comments

  • vickie Smith says:

    I’m a mom first business second…. I’m sure we’ll meet one of these days! It’s been close but it’ll happen…..

  • I live in PA…and and have a torn meniscus. If I can ride my bicycle while you run. Give me one weeks notice. Name the time and location and I will meet you. Rain Snow or Shine….. Thank You Marty

  • This is brilliant. Copying wholesale.

  • I love this idea and will be taking this forwards in a format that works for me wef today.

    As an aside, you may have heard of Dan Pena, who is a very successful business man (that whole phrase was such an understatement) & he made a point of scheduling business meetings for his prospective people at very awkward hours. He’d also get to know their key dates & schedule around them. Got a Wedding Anniversary on the Friday? Ok, let’s meet at 6pm Friday evening the same day!, etc.

  • I love, love, love this Peter! I’ve been dreaming about a meet with me offer of ‘Meetings-on-the-Run’. This could be the impetus to implement!

  • Lysa Miller says:

    Let me know when you are at Boston Logan!

  • Susan RoAne says:

    Peter, this is brilliant. I was so turned off by all those who wanted to “pick my author/speaker” brain that I wrote NEVER to ask to do in in Secrets of Savvy Networking . BUT, setting up parameters that ensure ppl will implement is so wise.

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