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The Esquire Guy’s Guide to Asking for Advice

Brain-picking the Esquire Guy for big ideas

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Advice

First of all, we have to come up with a better word for whatever this is. Brain-picking sounds like a medieval surgeon’s treatment – misguided and painful.

Probably lethal. And it’s a strangely off-putting term for what is almost always a delightful experience, both for the picker and the pickee. (Which are also off-putting terms, and which I won’t be using again.)

How to pick a brain

The first rule of brain-picking: It shouldn’t require your mentor to actually think. You should ask only for something that is pre-made and ready to be handed over: Basic knowledge.

Related: How To Find A Mentor

What the service does not include is recommendations. Brain-picking is meant to be a passive exercise on the expert’s part. If you’re asking for recommendations, then you are forcing your subject to work. Offering a recommendation involves analysis and decision-making.

Don’t ask your subject if you should switch careers. Ask about the career you’re considering switching to. Don’t ask your subject if you should go work for so-and-so.

Ask your subject what kind of person so-and-so is to work for. Don’t ask your subject if you may go to the restroom. Ask your subject if he or she knows where the restrooms are. (You really should’ve taken care of this before the meeting.)

Ask questions that are easy to answer but that you just don’t know the answer to.

Keep it short. Request about 15 minutes of their time. You’ll probably get 30, but ask for 15. Says Alex Iskold, founder and CEO of GetGlue, a social network for TV, movie and sports fans:

“If someone asks me for something that’s in my area of expertise, and if it’s someone I know or referred to me by someone I know, and it’s 10 minutes or half an hour, I think that’s reasonable, and if I have the time, I’m happy to be helpful. It’s all about time.

Before making the request, ask yourself why this person would want to help you. The answers should be: Because it will be easy, you want to do what they do at some point in your career, it allows them to do a generous thing, and because whatever mutual connection you share is an important one. The point is to give them a reason to help you.

“I tend to prioritise people in college who are trying to become their own entrepreneurs. It’s a personal preference; these are people that inspire me,” says Chantel Waterbury, founder and CEO of Chloe + Isabel, a US-based jewellery company. “And if someone needs branding, design or product-development advice, I always take those calls because I know it’s an area I can add value.”

What brain-picking means to the mentor

The main force at work with brain-picking could be described as the ecstasy of consultancy. The one being consulted gets to yammer on in relatively simple terms about something involving their area of expertise.

Which is easy and fun. (There is nothing more satisfying than being the smartest person in the room, especially if the room has only two people.) Says Waterbury:

“There are people I reach out to who are extremely seasoned and working in their industry for 40, 50 years, and I feel sometimes like it’s a one-way street, and I apologise, and they’ve said to me, ‘I do this because it invigorates me.’ I have to remind myself that they’re getting something from it, and I’m not just taking.”

The ecstasy of consultancy is really just a ‘social reward,’ as the psychologists put it.

“We know that when you share your experience with someone else, then you activate the default network in the brain, which is associated with a sense of social connection, empathy and positive reward,” says Anthony.

Jack, assistant professor of cognitive science, philosophy and psychology at Case Western Reserve University. When your brain is being picked, he adds, “this network comes up, and the analytic/critical thinking network gets suppressed, and you’re engaged.”

Brain-picking is a form of ‘inter-subjectivity,’ the shared exploration by two people of each other’s experiential world. You’re getting social capital, but you’re sharing social capital, too.

The reason this kind of reward is so powerful – and the reason why brain-picking has become an important part of business – is that you’re allowing another person to personally invest in your success, if only temporarily.

This is an honour. And it’s uniquely flattering. Requests for consultancy could be considered the most important measure of success. That’s a powerful gift you’re giving someone. Brain-picking is an even trade.

Related: 6 Things You Should Know About Mentorship

 Key technical matters

Key Technical Matters

Never ask for more than 15 minutes of a person’s time. You’ll probably end up with 30, but never ask for more than 15.

  • When making a brain-picking request, frame it in terms of your subject: “I’d like to ask you about your career.” Not “I’d like to ask you about my career.”
  • Be as accommodating as possible: “I’m available next week.” Not “I’m available Thursday.” And definitely not “I can squeeze you in from 8 to 8:15.”
  • Be courteous: “I would be grateful for your time.” Not “You gotta help me out here.” And certainly not: “YOU GOTTA HELP ME OUT HERE!”
  • There’s no need to praise the person. Your request to pick their brain is praise enough.
  • Never ask a mentor to help you make a decision. Consultants make decisions. Which is why consultants get paid. Mentors give feedback.
  • Be grateful but not obsequious. You’re not beneath the other person. You’re just a little less experienced in a certain category of business.
  • Remember that they’re getting something out of it, too: Flattery. And possibly a free coffee or something. But mainly flattery.
  • Remember to listen more than you talk. And never interrupt. But don’t just sit there. Really. Don’t just sit there…. [PAUSE]

For the love of God, ask a question!

 

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Business Ideas Directory

Which Side Hustle Should You Try? (Infographic)

For a little extra spending money, find the right side hustle for you.

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For many of us, ditching your nine-to-five so you can pursue your entrepreneurial dreams is not an option. But that doesn’t mean you should forget about those pursuits altogether. In fact, a number of entrepreneurs work on their side business while keeping their day jobs.

But sometimes it’s hard to even know where to get started or what you should pursue. The good news is, choosing a side hustle to bring in a little extra cash every month is easier than you think. Just focus on your interests and passions, and you’re halfway there. Another key factor to take into account is your lifestyle, so you can choose something that best supports you.

Related: 3 Ways To Set Your Side Hustle Up For Success

To figure out what you should pursue on the side, check out Quid Corner’s infographic below.

1504884689_design-what-side-hustle-should-you-try

Related: 50 Jobs, Gigs And Side Hustles You Can Do From Home

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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Business Ideas Directory

Transport and Logistics Business Cheat Sheet

Seven steps to help you on the road to starting up your transport and logistics business.

Nicole Crampton

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Planning is always an important part of starting any business. This transport and logistics cheat sheet will give you some important steps to consider before you get going. From making sure your finances are organised to insurance to correctly marketing your business.

Related: The Essential Start-up Cheat Sheet

Here are seven steps to consider when starting a transport and logistics business:

Step 1: Organising your finance

When you’re at an advanced stage in your business you should have precise facts and accurately calculate your expenses. Don’t wait for surprises. Surprises can be quite expensive and could set you back.

A good idea is to put money aside for breakdowns. Breakdowns can impact you financially and will affect your profits. You should also have some clearly calculated financials on spreadsheets: A recipe for disaster is if you’re still working your expenses out in your head and that is all you’ve done with your financial projections.

Step 2: Choosing your Type of Transport Business

limousine

There are many options available in the transport and logistics business such as:

  • Limousine or taxi service
  • Medical transportation
  • Courier service
  • Auto transport business
  • Charter, bus company.

Each one has its only challenges and benefits. When deciding, go for an option which doesn’t have a lot of competition in the area you’re operating in. You should also do some research and make sure there is a need for that type of transportation in the area.

Related: The Cheat Sheet to Winning Over Investors

Step 3: Getting Registered

Your next step should be contacting your local public utilities commission. You’ll need to find out what documentation you’ll need to start your transportation business such as:

  • Permits
  • Licenses
  • Registering with area, province or national transportation departments.

Step 4: Putting Insurance in Place

Insurance is very important for any business. Contact an insurance company that specialises in a business that has your specific mode of transportation. Research different companies to understand what you will be paying for and what each insurance solution will cover.

It may help to ask someone already in the industry who they are insured with and why.

Step 5: Buying Vehicles

vehicles

The amount of money you spend in this step will affect your business quite dramatically. The type of vehicle and whether you’re buying new or used vehicles will impact your finances significantly. Buying used vehicles can help reduce costs.

If you find vehicles that have low mileages and are the type of vehicle you’re looking for have them checked out by a mechanic.

Purchasing a large fleet of vehicles at once can often qualify you for discounts from dealers. Your vehicles are the key to your transportation business so you should make sure that you buy the right vehicles for the right price.

Related: 10 Fears You Must Overcome When Starting a New Business

Step 6: Marketing your Business

Advertise your business to your specific target market when your business is running. Here are a few advertising ideas you can use:

  • Have an advert placed in your local telephone book
  • Create a website for your business
  • Create a business card with your URL on it as well as any vital information
  • Word of mouth can be very powerful so tell everyone you meet about your business.

Step 7: Financial Support

Be patient. Any venture will take time and effort to build up a customer base, vehicles and profits. It’s a good idea to financial backing to get you through at least a year of hard times. You don’t want to have to close your business after only a short period of time because you ran out of funds.

The Road Freight Association of South Africa (RFA) has an SMME Starter Kit which is designed specifically for businesses which are starting out. It includes tips and tricks on how to go about getting into the transport industry, sourcing contracts and calculating financial predictions as well as various other essential information.

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Business Ideas Directory

10 South African Apps For Our One-of-a-Kind Country

South Africa’s population is diverse and dynamic, with unique needs compared to the rest of Africa and the world. These local innovators are creating ground-breaking apps to suit our one-of-a-kind market.

Nicole Crampton

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The amount of apps created to meet South Africa’s unique market needs is on the rise. Apple’s famous ‘there’s an app for that’ slogan is becoming reality, as more apps are created to cover a wider variety of options. South Africa’s mixed culture and diverse society can benefit from this growing variety of apps.

Here’s a list of homemade South African apps for our unique, one-of-a-kind market.

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