Keeping the Brain Pickers at Bay

“I’d like to pick your brain.”

It’s a phrase that unless you’re 10, or just not that interesting to other people, you’ve heard before.  I don’t know how you feel about it, but for me it conjures up used car sales men and Amway representatives picking at day old chicken carcasses while chewing with their greasy mouths wide open.

I think it’s one of the most repulsive ways to ask for someone’s opinion and I say no to requests to “pick my brain” more often than I should because, one, I’m a snob, and two, who knows what other deplorable phrases will fall out of the greasy mouth of said brain picker during our future discussions… I shudder to think.

Should you not be enough of an jerk face to say no to such request however, I have outlined some handy tips for your brain picking sessions.


  • If the brain picking is over a meal:
    • Make them pay for the meal.
    • You should choose the venue, and the price-point should be commensurate with your hourly consulting rate.
    • If you really dislike the person , double your consulting rate to account for pain and suffering.
    • For God’s sake, don’t let them order a whole chicken.
    • Bring them a gift of wet naps, you’ll thank me later.
  • If it’s by phone:
    • Be sure it’s understood that you only have a few minutes, you are very busy and don’t have much brain to spare.
    • Force the brain picker to go for the best meat on your greasy little brain carcass – ask them to prepare their questions in advance.
    • If the person is taking up more time than allotted, begin making slurping noises (if it helps, pretend to be chewing a big wad of fat and spit it into an imaginary napkin.)
    • If the above is not effective in getting them off the phone, start dialing random numbers and insist that it helps with your creative process.
  • If it’s by email:
    • This is the hardest one to keep control over, the brain picking type will continuously answer your emailed answer to their emailed question with another emailed question about your emailed answer… you cannot out email a brain picker… ever.
    • Try to answer their questions so concisely that a follow-up email from them would be seen as insulting.
    • Write a detailed description of  the secrets to your success, ascribe all you have accomplished in life to your excellent hygiene and then thoroughly explain your tooth brushing, bum wiping, or toe nail clipping routine.

Do you have other suggestions to keep brain pickers at bay? Please let everyone know by leaving your swell ideas in the comments.

11 replies
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  1. Kristof
    Kristof says:

    My rule of thumb is that I only allow close friends to pick my brain. Otherwise, it just ends up being people who understand the value of what I know but, for some reason, don’t feel like that they need pay me for it.

    Great tips – thanks. The whole chicken part was funny.

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