You Can Pick Your Nose, But You Can’t Pick Their Brain

by | Feb 15, 2018 | VO Business


[A quick aside: I got the title for this blog from a college roomate.  His variation on this theme was:  “…you can pick your friends, and you can pick your nose, but you can’t wipe you friends on your pants…”.  I thought that deserved some explanation.  🙂 ]

Lately, it’s become a sin to ask someone to “pick their brain”.  It didn’t used to be that way.

Most people were fine with sharing a bit of their knowledge in a mentoring sort of way if the person asking is being appropriate.

I certainly have shared and continue to do so.

But I must admit there are those who are abusing it, and it’s making the whole “giving, sharing, encouraging” VO community appear to be a bit of a curmudgeon…or defensive…or forthright (depending on your perspective)

Most well-known VO coaches will now charge you for the privilege of “picking their brain”.  It’s their time, their knowledge, and their prerogative.


A WoVO member recently informed me that she was aware of an associate who approached 4 WoVO mentors about being a mentee and was turned away by all four.  WoVO mentors are under no obligation to agree to the free half hour of “brain picking”, but if you no longer have the time to be a mentor, maybe you should take your name off the list?

There’s actually another side of that coin.  So many voice actors fancy themselves as “coaches” these days, that some of them are maybe coming on a little too strong with an upsell to a mentee, and suggesting some paid sessions after the volunteer session.  That’s a fine line.

I’m not sure how I feel about any of that, but I DO lament the loss of freely given advice when someone earnestly asks for it in a considerate way.

That’s the key; sensitive and considerate.


A good approach might be to write an email to your target mentor complimenting them on their reputation, telling them something about yourself, and leaving it at that.  Then, maybe a couple of weeks later, to write again, and ask a more directed question to get a feel for the acceptance of your target.

There’s always a fine line between persistent and pest, but here are a few things that are NOT on the acceptable plate…so don’t ask:

  • about sharing leads
  • about agent introductions
  • about sharing email lists
  • about sharing clients
  • about sharing prospects
  • about sharing prospecting secrets
  • to evaluate your demo

You can ask:

  1. for mic suggestions
  2. for coaching recommendations
  3. about recording room preparation
  4. how to price a specific job
  5. where to start
  6. about P2P’s
  7. how NOT to blow your first demo


I think social media has upped the “rudeness” factor just a bit.  People figure they don’t anyone any explanation, and by asking very pointed questions, they’ll either get an answer, or move on to the next target.  That’s NOT the way to build relationships or build a business based on your own personal brand.

Social Media has changed expectations around many things, but personal consideration and courtesy are not among them (if you want to build a business based on personal integrity — and isn’t trust at the heart of all good business relationships?).






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