Can I pick your brain?

by | May 18, 2024

Can I pick your brain?

I get ~15 to 30 inquiries a week from folks wanting to “pick my brain.”

These requests are usually along these lines:

1. Music – Can you produce and/or release my music?

2. Money – Can you invest in me, my idea, my company?

3. Advice – Can I ask you for life advice?
(How to…create a portfolio career, generate passive income, meditate properly, write a book, solve my relationship issues…)

4. Endorsements – Can you endorse my book, film, song, app, project?


Here’s my short answer:

I’m afraid not.

It’s not you.

It’s me.


Sure, it’s flattering to be asked. It takes a certain amount of courage to ask anyone for help. I admire many of the creative individuals who reach out.

But as you can imagine, it can also be overwhelming.

When I look at my calendar and I see a bunch of meetings, I grow anxious. When will I make music/film/books?

It takes LOTS of time to create.

I have become increasingly militant about my calendar. For example: I serve on one advisory board. I try not to put myself in situations even to be asked to serve.

When someone whom I know wants to chat, I often ask them to just call me (they rarely do).


About those pick-my-brain requests:

a) If I chat with someone, that can take ~30 minutes. A gratis consulting session where I could have been focused on my own work. Now imagine if I did that ~15 to 30 times per week.

b) If I don’t respond to the inquiry or say no, then they may think I’m being aloof or unhelpful. (And people remember what you *don’t* do for them…)

The thing is… My first instinct is to respond and say, “Sure, let’s brainstorm together.”

That’s what I’ve done over the decades. I’ve been quick to jump on the phone and try to help folks think through their issues.

Maybe that has earned me a reputation – or at least the flow of continual requests.

But I just can’t do this as much anymore.


So how do I deal with the bevy of requests?

A polite no thank you if I know the person. Or no answer if I don’t.

It’s hard when friends reach out wanting to collaborate. Even close ones (though I have few of these).

And yes, I make exceptions.

But I try to follow the principles of essentialism.


I view the content that I create as my primary vehicle to help as many as I can.

I write a weekly newsletter where I share my best ideas & provide examples of how others thrive with portfolio careers.

I use LinkedIn to share ideas & insights on creative industry.

I don’t use these platforms to tout my achievements endlessly. Sure, I’ll announce a new project. But then I move on to more useful content for my readers.

You don’t care how many reviews my new book gets. And frankly, neither do I.

And as for who can pick my brain, I’m still happyish to receive the requests….

But I wanted to share the view from my side.