Yesterday Jason Falls wrote a great blog post about incentive-based consulting and the age-old question in a service business…what do we do when someone asks “can I pick your brain?”…for free. Jason makes a couple of points I’d like to illustrate.

1. A couple of weeks ago Peter Shankman tweeted the following:

2. Kami Watson Huyse wrote a blog post about the arrogance of that tweet and how micro-fame breeds rudeness.

3. And Jason says, “by asking for my nice guy helpfulness, you’re costing me money.”

I think Jason’s blog post is less about incentive-based consulting and more about something that is rampant in the industries where people sell their brains for a living. Time is how we make our money. We don’t make widgets. We don’t sell products. We don’t manufacture anything. We don’t process anything. Our brains are our products and, Jason is right, every time someone asks us for free help, they’re taking us away from clients or opportunities to make us money.

On the second point, I know Kami thinks Peter’s tweet is arrogant and her post on the topic talks about how fame breeds arrogance. I disagree. I am not famous. I am not a celebrity. I certainly hope I’m not arrogant. I own a business – one that is growing and one that has a huge and very aggressive vision. And I get asked at least three times every day if someone can spend “just 30 minutes” with me, grab a cup of coffee, or have lunch to use what is in my brain for their benefit (worse are the ones who pretend they want to buy me a glass of wine while they use my personal time and then don’t pick up the tab). Just like Jason, Peter, and even Chris Brogan, I have a certain helpfulness that makes me want to say yes. I want people to like me and part of that want is always wanting to help.

But I cannot say yes to everyone because almost all of it takes me away from my vision. This is a big conversation we have internally all the time – how do we decide what is me being overly nice and what is a request that is going to move us closer to the vision? We don’t have all of the answers yet, but we do have a ton of places where you can get free advice from me every day.

They include:

* Picking my brain by asking me a question on the Arment Dietrich Facebook wall – I answer one question, via video, every week.

* Subscribing to the Arment Dietrich YouTube channel, where all of our free advice videos are stored.

* Joining the conversation right here by subscribing to Spin Sucks – I actively participate in the comments section, keep an open mind, and even sometimes change my view on things, based on what you wisely communicate.

* Following Spin Sucks on Twitter because it is a content aggregate of all things Arment Dietrich and blog-related that is my brain on virtual paper, in podcast, or on video. We don’t just tweet the blog posts – we tweet all of the columns and articles I write, any interview I do, the weekly InsidePR podcast, any letters to the editors or OpEds from my team, and all of our guest bloggers.

* Joining the discussion in the Facebook digital marketing community where the industry talks about the changes happening, what it means for our careers, and how to stay ahead of trends.

* Subscribing to the Arment Dietrich Delicious page where I bookmark articles, case studies, and great thinking multiple times each day and they’re nicely tagged for ease-of use (i.e. want social media policies? Search the policy tag).

* Following me on Twitter. I tweet multiple times a day and, yeah, I tweet our blog posts, but I also tweet blogs, articles, podcasts, and videos I find really interesting that have nothing to do with us.

I know everyone thinks their situation is different and that the advice we’ve made available on the web isn’t going to answer your question. But, trust me, if you simply click on one of the links above, I’m fairly certain you’ll find what you need more quickly than I can answer your email, phone call, tweet, Facebook message, instant message, or Skype message.

Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder, CEO, and author of Spin Sucks, host of the Spin Sucks podcast, and author of Spin Sucks (the book). She is the creator of the PESO Model and has crafted a certification for it in partnership with Syracuse University. She has run and grown an agency for the past 15 years. She is co-author of Marketing in the Round, co-host of Inside PR, and co-host of The Agency Leadership podcast.

View all posts by Gini Dietrich