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The problem with brain pickers

One of the last meetings I attended before my fall from grace (AKA exit from corporate) I recall an odd request that was made (that I now realize was a poorly executed strategy from leadership to transfer my knowledge to my successor)

The ask: "Sybil, would you mind doing a train-the-trainer session? You know... let us pick your brain a little."

My reply: "Why so?" "Is there something not written down that needs to be?"

The answer: "Everyone needs to be on the same page just in case."

Just in case of what.. hmmmmm... ah yes! Just in case I leave

When I realized my mind and ideas were an asset to the business, I also realized that it would also be a liability.

My job was to balance what I knew with what I was willing to share. Even then, I knew I had to protect my brand, which meant protecting my intellectual property. I had to navigate being a full contributor but accept that if I allowed it, they would squeeze every inch of potential from me and leave me dry.

Sound selfish? Like not being a "team player"? Not really, when you consider that I did spend - lots of money on advanced degrees and certifications when others didn't - lots of time to get to my 10,000 hours to be considered an expert - lots of time alone, sacrificing days with family and friends to make sure I came prepared 100%

What did I do next???

I gave them specifically what they asked for. Nothing more, nothing less. I reset the agreements with the persons who would "pick my brain" and stood firm that I would not discuss any more "new" ideas until I would be compensated according to my expertise.

How do you handle the brain pickers at work? You've met the person in the room who is always slow to create a unique answer but first to respond with other people's ideas and "piggyback" to get the last word. It's the person who takes copious notes in the hope they can figure out how you came to the fantastic conclusions that you did... How are you proactively protecting your personal brand?

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