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Kelsey Ramsden


What to Say When Someone Asks 'Can I Pick Your Brain?' And You Don't Really Want Them To

Posted: 09/18/2013 5:21 pm

As we all do, I get a lot of e-mails a day.

Sometimes it is hard to prioritize which to open and which to let sit till tomorrow.

I think "what to do" with our time is a lot like that too.

Sometimes it is hard to tell what to make a priority and what to let lie.

There is always one type of e-mail that it is easy for me to open and hard for me to follow up on.

"Hey Kelsey, I would love to pick your brain."

My curiosity and addictive love for new ideas/businesses/opportunities compels me to open every one of these type of e-mails.

That, and the fact that among my greatest pleasures in the world is helping people with their ideas/businesses/passions.

Like many of us, no matter what our skill set: mechanic, physician, teacher, ski instructor: there is always someone who wants to pick your brain.

"What do you think about.....". or "I have this thing on my foot.....". OR "My car is going mah-mah-mah-kanup-kanup (visualize middle aged woman shaking her bottom from side to side and then doing two booty drops while making this sound).

We all want to help, but when do we have time amongst our busy lives of work and home?

I never want to feel like a jerk and say -- "Sorry man, I am too busy to listen to your life's passion for 5 minutes." That is the thing, every time I had to turn someone down I felt like a jerk... but not anymore baby!

I have finally found a way to answer the question: "Can I pick your brain?".

The answer is YES. The key is in the Terms and Conditions of the Yes.

"Yes, I would love to chat, I have 15 minutes on Friday at 10am. I am happy to chat about your idea and then I am sure I can recommend someone who can help you on from there."

Terms and Conditions:

My Time

Time Limit

Opportunity for Referral

Here is the magic. Every week I set aside 30 minutes to do this for people. It makes me feel good and in some way, it helps them out. When it is on my time and has a time limit, expectations are clearly set. The sprinkles upon the cherry on top of helping someone is the opportunity to refer your acquaintance to a friend or colleague. Referrals are the best kind of business because they are based on a pre-qualification of a colleague who knows the work you do and your key client type.

Important note -- sometimes the referral is not to colleague and is to a free resource page or to a support group... some people do not have the budget to move forward with direct services, but you can point them in the direction of resources which will help them until such time as they have a budget... YouTube can be amazing for this kind of thing when talking about practical businesses.

At the end of the day, your acquaintance values your ideas for free. If they value your work after a free 15 minutes, they will pay for it... or otherwise would not have been a client anyways. What would happen though if everyone did this kind of practice? Imagine the referral business we could generate and the good vibes we would be spreading?

I am a big fan of setting limits, being open, providing insights and making connections through referred business and if I can do this and help people at the same time it is a bonus.

Final word -- when the person comes back for a second round, go straight to asking if they followed up with your first referral. They will get the message.

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  • Take A Two-Minute Mini Vacation

    Choose one of your favorite vacation memories and relive it -- all while skipping the airfare! "Every single one of us has memories from our favorite places. You can relive the best moment of your life to feel like you did when you were there," Wortmann says. Why it works: It helps you recognize you have a choice in how you feel in a stressful moment.

  • Surf Around On A Zen-Friendly Website

    It might seem counterintuitive to find solace on your screen (<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/28/national-day-of-unplugging-2013_n_2760114.html">because unplugging <em>is</em> important)</a>, but you can do exactly that with the many centering sites out there. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/30/positive-thinking-the-10-_n_2582102.html">Here are 10 of our favorite URLs that inspire us</a>.

  • Download A De-Stressing App

    Your smartphone might be partly to blame for the stress you're feeling (hello, non-stop emails and phantom vibes), but it's also a great resource for de-stressing tools. Try a couple of <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/02/de-stressing-apps-10-ipho_n_2397200.html">our favorite de-stressing apps</a>, and <a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/gps-for-the-soul/id586099254?ls=1&mt=8">download the GPS for the Soul app here</a>.

  • Keep Essential Oils At Your Desk

    Essential oils will do more than mimic an escape to the spa: A whiff or two could actually help you relax. Aromatherapy has been <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19571632">shown to decrease stress levels</a>, so shop around for a scent you fancy and get sniffing.

  • Swivel

    Since stress is <a href="http://www.livestrong.com/article/182980-what-can-make-you-feel-extremely-tired-sleepy-all-of-the-time/"> physically exhausting,</a> you might benefit from a little movement for an instant energy lift. An action as small as swiveling in your chair with a couple of deep breaths can help you get back to business, <a href="http://www.glamour.com/health-fitness/2008/10/how-to-destress-at-your-desk-instantly#slide=3">Glamour reports</a>.

  • Bounce It Out

    If your employer allows it, you might consider swapping your desk chair for something a little more fun. While there is <a href="http://www.livestrong.com/article/290341-the-benefits-of-using-a-stability-ball-as-a-chair/">yet to be conclusive research </a>that a stability ball improves posture, the ball <em>does</em> allow more room for fidgeting -- which can wake you up and help get you back into the zone.

  • Handwrite Your To-Do List

    Think of your handwritten to-do list as a sacred document, kept away from distractions of the inter-webs. You'll know exactly where to find it when you need to refer back to it since it won't be lost among the many open tabs of your browser. Plus, the act of physically writing down your tasks<a href="http://lifehacker.com/5738093/why-you-learn-more-effectively-by-writing-than-typing"> may help you organize your thoughts and remember them more clearly,</a> which, in turn, will help you to be more focused and less stressed. Fear you'll forget your to-dos on your desk one rushed night? Make a point to snap a photo with your phone at the end of each day.

  • Snack On An Orange

    Your co-workers will think you're just craving a juicy mid-day snack, but besides satisfying tummy grumbles, you'll be reaping the benefits of the stress-relieving powers of citrus. <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11862365">A 2002 study</a> found that a dose of vitamin C helped people bounce back more easily from a stressful situation.

  • Take A Screen Break

    You'll have to get up for this one, but it will be worth your while: Just a five-minute break from your desk will have <a href="http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110208131529.htm">you returning refocused</a> and a little less anxious. Plus, <a href="http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/eyestrain/DS01084">your eyes</a> will appreciate the rest.

  • Try A Breathing Exercise

    <a href="http://www.webmd.com/balance/stress-management/stress-management-breathing-exercises-for-relaxation">WebMD cites deep breathing</a> as one of the best ways to lower stress in the body. That's good news, since it's an exercise you can perform anywhere, sans candles or gongs. Try out a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/19/dan-goleman-gps-guide-relaxation-techniques_n_2712260.html">few of</a> <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/johnroger/breathing-exercise-_b_2247713.html">these</a> <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-magone/stress-meditation-_b_1671435.html">techniques</a> to see which you like best.

  • Turn On The Tunes

    According to <a href="http://www.samfak.gu.se/Faculty+of+Social+science/News/News/News_Detail//everyday-music-listening-reduces-stress.cid1066914">a 2012 study</a>, listening to music every day can help keep your stress in check. The (not-so-hard-to-fulfill) catch: You have to listen to music that you actually like. Check out our <a href="http://open.spotify.com/user/mindfulliving/playlist/3IGicJWDNRy8aNe2TZEmvE">mood-boosting playlist here</a> for some inspiration.

  • Related Video: Natural Ways To Boost Moods


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