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May 20, 2011


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Michelle -
Your thoughts reveal why you are so highly regarded. Generosity of spirit and sharing of knowledge define you. Good business developers absolutely learn to sniff out the "takers", as you describe them. And, as we know, the only way to learn is through experience. But think of all the great conversations AND OPPORTUNITIES we would miss if we weeded out people as the article's author suggests!

Ron Ratliff


I agree. Ms. Graham's prescription might work for doctors, plumbers, and others...but I believe that "trusted advisors" understand that many seeds are planted and nurtured before you can begin planning the harvest.

In fact - you have to make yourself yourself available to listen to people that allows you to be of the greatest benefit.

Is there a line? Of course. But it really boils down to whether you're selling your time or selling your knowledge. My physician does not bill me by the hour - I am, after all, looking to them for answers that are actionable rather than quantifiable.

Thanks for raising the issue.

info .

Michelle, I couldn't agree with you more. In fact if I employed any of the suggested advice, I would lose any client on which I practiced it.

The very clients in which I invest such a small amount "Freebie Time" are the foundation of my client base that pays my billable hourly rates, which already compensate for a reasonable amount of freebie time.

Steven Zelin

Hi Michelle,

I totally agree with your perspective. I was featured in a blog recently and purely as a feedback mechanism and a way to "build community" for the blog I offered a free hour of consultation to anyone who heard about me through the blog. I was surprised at all the calls I received, and as expected I had lots of people who purely wanted free advice, but I also met lots of folks who are now happy clients! I enjoyed meeting with everyone and had a terrific time chatting with each and every person I met about their personal and business needs. I was happy to share my knowledge and provide guidance when needed. I didn't write anyones business plan or amend their tax returns during our meeting but I gave thoughtful advice on whatever was needed and I hopefully planted a seed that I am a resource they could count on if they need professional services in the future.

Michelle Golden

Steve, that is a fantastic story and you clearly get it! Congrats and I can tell just from what you've written and the way you've written it that you enjoy the relationship aspect of your business so that is why other people enjoy talking with you. It's a beautiful circle!

Info, I love "freebie time" - we should all budget that in!

Ron, as you totally know, selling one's "time" interferes completely with the greater mission of quality service.

Melinda, those of us who hold the belief that the journey, not the destination, is the whole point (and it's easy to forget during the daily grind...) certainly find it easier to look on even the "wasted" conversations as worthwhile in some way. Just because they don't turn into profits doesn't mean they don't have value. You always make me think. Love that about you!

Adrienne Graham

Hello Michelle. Thank you for sharing and commenting on my article. I found your blog today because the post has apparently resurfaced and is once again viral.

I read your comments, and the comments of your readers and tried to keep an open mind. But I think instead of my points being too black and white as you say, you all are not reading for true context. That's OK, everyone will have a different perception of what they read. We're all adults and can agree or disagree peacefully. But I think you all have missed my point, or at least the point of this article which is it was directed toward habitual brain pickers.

I give TONS of free advice, information, etc. Plus I gift services to individuals throughout the year (which I don't speak of for obvious reasons). So for anyone to be shocked angry or bothered by what I said clearly doesn't understand the context of this article. I don't run my business by sniffing out brain pickers and assuming the worst in people. Quite the contrary. But I've been in business a long time and can tell when a person is just fishing for a finished blueprint handed to them or genuinely wants my advice. I listen way more than I speak. And I know how to differentiate consultations from advice.

I stand by every word in that article and don't regret writing it. It was more focused toward people who are habitual brain pickers and people who take advantage. But everyone will read with their own perceptions. Anyway, thanks for sharing and commenting. I'm glad this article sparked (and continues to spark) so much conversation.

Happy New Year to you and I wish you much continued success!

Adrienne Graham
(author of the article)

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