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I saw this tweet a while ago and thought, anytime someone asks to “pick my brain”, I’m going to link to this tweet:

My friend Paulina Cameron also shared this post, which offers advice about how to ask for advice over email.
I do receive a lot of requests for advice from people I don’t know – referrals from other people, random messages via LinkedIn, and random messages via our contact form. I get requests for advice from people I do know and that I meet at events. This is all on top of the time I formally spend advising entrepreneurs leading companies in the Pique Fund portfolio or that I’ve agreed to advise through a mentorship program.
The frightening thing is that the people who I don’t know seem to ask with an assumption that they are the only ones asking me for advice and that I have lots of free time to provide advice freely.
If you’re going to ask someone for advice, remember that it is not free and that you are not entitled to it. First and foremost, think of it as an exchange, that is part of a relationship. If you want to take someone’s time and advice, what is it that you’re offering them? How can you help the other person further their work or impact?
  • Be respectful of people’s time. They don’t owe you an explanation of why they are too busy to meet or speak with you. Respect that they have other commitments and a way of deciding who to meet and when. They don’t owe you a detailed description of their schedule.
  • If you need to cancel, give people as much notice as possible. Sometimes stuff happens and appointments get canceled – that’s okay, that’s understandable. Try to give people as much notice as possible because it can mean they can reschedule or fit someone or something else in.
  • If you cancel, the other person doesn’t owe you an alternative time. If you cancel and the person is no longer available when you want them to be, you have to accept that, roll with the punches, and go with the flow.
  • Don’t try to insert yourself into their schedule and brain, by emailing what advice you wanted. Don’t explain again or provide further details as to why you canceled. What purpose are you trying to serve with that? Does it help the person with whom you’re trying to get time or are you trying to serve yourself?
  • Don’t start an email “with all due respect” and proceed to not respect the person’s time.
  • If you get a response (and remember, you are not entitled to one), thank them for taking the time.
  • Offer your help. When I ask someone for advice or help in some way, I also try to think about how I can help the other person. Can I promote something they are doing? Can I make a connection for them?

There is no hierarchy in my books. If I’m seeking advice from someone who has more experience than I do or that is managing more assets than Pique Ventures manages, I can still offer help or some kind of exchange. I have made investor and entrepreneur introductions for funds much larger than Pique’s because we can all help each other.

The best relationships, even mentorship or advice-seeking type relationships, are exchanges. Always keep that in mind, especially when you’re asking for advice.


Learn more about exchange and relationship mindsets, check out Integrated Investing: Impact Investing with Head, Heart, Body, and Soul, available at all major online book retailers.

Download your free 24-page Integrated Investing Toolkit, by signing up to the Pique Ventures newsletter.