October 18, 2007

"After tiring of acquaintances inviting him out to shoot the breeze, Mr. Amtower... began charging $600 an hour with a four-hour minimum."

From an article about how some people really don't want to do breakfast/lunch/dinner with you to do meetings or because you want to "pick their brain." The fact that you are paying for the food is basically nothing to them.

Ask them out, and they won't just turn you down, they'll humiliate you for asking: “I don’t do lunch, except with my family or friends. We have very little time together, so I save down time for them." That's how a female career consultant — who'd just given a speech about women in business — reacted when a woman said "I'd love to have lunch with you and pick your brain."

Okay, so you need to preserve your time. Why can't you say that would be very nice but I can't fit it on my calendar? You don't have to announce that other people are more important to you. What is that? Is it preening over the fullness of your personal life? An attempt to educate everyone to think business-related socializing is now considered offensive? If you're so keen on withholding personal time, why don't you also care about withholding personal information?


Ralph said...

The Doctor is IN.
5 cents please.
(Lucy Van Pelt)

You can pick my Brain
You can pick your Nose
But you can't brain my nose without legal consequences.

hdhouse said...

In the past years I've participated in perhaps 10-12 advertising pitches where the potential client has absolutely no interest in hiring any agency, big or small, but simply is using the gambit as a way to hear a bunch of ideas, costs, implementations, etc.

It is hard to generalize as to the type of people who do this but generally it is the type who "picks your brain at lunch" type of thing but a little company of likeminds instead of just one person.

I just wrote a long and detailed POV overnight that had to be at a potential client this morning at 9. About 4am I was wondering if my brain wasn't being picked and that I should just bill him my hourly much as your Mr. Amtower.

rhhardin said...

Courtesy in all things.

Posted at the time clock by the main exit of a Kroger supermarket.

Nobody wants my opinion, but they insist I attend their meetings anyway. Companies are taken over by people who like running meetings, not people who like working.

Paying overtime rates for meeting attandance might fix this structural flaw.

Pogo said...

"who'd just given a speech about women in business"

Certainly, commodify your discretionary time. Bill hourly (in 15 minute increments) for those attempting to meet you. Rent your lunchtime chatter and your networking prowess. Great idea.

Although, you can forget the chance encounter that sparks you, the serendipitous ideas borne of idle conversation. Why should women so gain? And why should the female career consultant remember how she was assisted in her social climb? Screw that and screw them. She's selling access.

Seriously, capitalism would be great if it weren't for the capitalists.

Ralph said...

Pogo, I agree selling lunch is ridiculous, but the second woman was presumptuously expecting to get something valuable for free. The consultant could have said, "Make an appointment," but she tried deflecting instead.

paul a'barge said...

Ralph +1.

a female career consultant — who'd just given a speech about women in business.

Given this, I find it extremely unlikely that someone at this level of achievement would be careless in her dealings with colleagues.

Much more likely is, as Ralph pointed out, that the other woman was trying to grab a load of wisdom for nothing, and that this was not the first woman to attempt this.

I salute the female career consultant for being blunt.

Trooper York said...

In my real life I am a tax accountant who specializes in bars and restaurants. I would often end up doing the taxes for the waiters and bartenders as well as the owners of the business. So when I would finish I would be enjoying a cocktail or two at the bar and they would flock around and ask complicated tax questions. I would answer politely for a while until I got tired of them pestering me. So I would point to the sexiest woman in the bar, and say "Hey I'm going home with her tonight, so you know how good my judgment must be." For some reason they would leave me alone after that. Clients, what a hoot.

Jonathan said...

What's even better is when you realize (after the fact) that the exciting "job interview" you just participated in was nothing more than a successful attempt to troll you for information. And you didn't even get lunch out of it.

LawGiver said...

"Hey I'm going home with her tonight, so you know how good my judgment must be."

So did you take them home, bill them by the hour, and deduct it as a business expense?

Trooper York said...

Actually if there was any billing involved, I am afraid that I was on the wrong end of that transaction. But that's another story best not discussed here.

LawGiver said...

If I'm enjoying the person and the surroundings I have no problem with someone picking my brain in a social setting.

I work as a consultant for a major corporation which charges $1700 a visit whether I'm there for an hour or a day. People charge what they think they can get away with and it blows my mind that companies pay as much as they do. The government funded entities are the worst. They don't even blink when you give them the bill, they just send you the check. After all, it's not their money.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

In my real life I'm a financial planner and investment advisor. I charge by the hour or by the assets under management. It took me years to get the knowledge that I have and lots of money for training, licensing, ongoing education and fees required by the SEC.

People are always trying to put me on the spot for financial advice or free investment tips. I also applaud the bluntness of the consultant. In a social setting, I usually deflect by suggesting that if they need to have advice they can schedule an appointment...."Here is my card, please call my office and we can set up a time. Looking forward to seeing you" Either they set up a time or they don't.

If people persist: I explain I'm in a highly regulated industry and giving advice off the cuff without the required compliance procedures and due diligence is not legal or ethical and I would be more than happy to schedule some time.

I had a friend years ago who was a bank executive and got irritated when trying to have a social moment at a local pub. He told people..."I don't drink at the bank and I don't bank at the bar. Come see me tomorrow." Loved it.

tony said...

Doctors have the worst of it. I had a dermatologist friend who would have people actually show him their rashes at cocktail parties and ask his professional advice, even request a prescription. He said doctors would play "can you top this" with these stories.

Jeremy said...

As a garbage man, when my wife tells me to take out the trash, I politely remind her that she doesn't sign my G D paycheck.

As as watchmaker, when people ask me for the time, I like to respond, "Wank off, you old hag! Why don't you come and see me at noon - if you can figure out when that is!"

As an IT guy, when people ask me for help with their computers, I don't mind because I can finally get someone to listen to me ramble on about the latest Red Hat Unix release - Shrike (2.4.20 kernal) 9, not 9.0! Can you believe it?! OMGWTFBBQ!

Synova said...

Is that really so humiliating? Maybe it would be, if the person making an advance about a lunch date was trying to pretend it *was* friendship. I donno.

I do know that the worst lunches *ever* have been the ones where someone was doing business at the next table. Do I *really* want to overhear details of legal accusations (or any other personal or business details) that I realize are NOT supposed to be public information?

john said...


So your'e a tax consultant! That's great news. Say, maybe we should get together over a beer sometime (first one's on me!) and talk about stuff, you know, football, taxes. I'd really like to get caught up on the latest, you know, tax stuff.

How 'bout this Friday, happy hour at Hooters.


john said...

Pogo has it just right: we forget how we got here sometimes, and letting someone "pick your brain" occasionally may be good for both the picker and the pickee.

Methadras said...

In my line of work, Product Design Engineering and Development, I have to cater to any potential client in that meeting for lunch or dinner to discuss potential business may mean that I would have to divulge business trade practices in order to pitch to the client that I can give them what they are looking for. However, like hdhouse said, you would get the client who has basically sat with several other like minded professionals to hear their pitches to simply garner ideas without paying for them. Early in my career I fell prey to that type of tactic. Now, in order to weed out the riff-raff and there is plenty in this industry, I make them sign non-disclosure agreements and charge them a small nominal fee for that time. Something benign at around $15 per quarter hour. That way, they fully understand that my time and their time is valuable and that if they really want to talk to me about their ideas, they will be quick and efficient in expressing those ideas to me. Likewise, I will also be quick and efficient in my methods of explaining to them how I can get them the product they are looking for. My time is valuable, their time is equally as valuable.

Clients who are serious have no problem opting for this method of dialogue, clients who want to pick my brain for the sake of amassing larger knowledge from a group of other professionals will have to pay for it from me. It weeds out the riff-raff and works pretty well.

People who call meetings just to gather people around them for the sake of it are controllers and want everyone to know they are someone important that can call them to a meeting anytime they want. It's stupid office hierarchy and that's why I've stepped out of that life now for over 25 years and just remained a consultant. Much much better for my overall health.

Methadras said...

LawGiver said...

"Hey I'm going home with her tonight, so you know how good my judgment must be."

So did you take them home, bill them by the hour, and deduct it as a business expense?

This is why context is important. :D

Fred said...

Regarding the woman at the bar...
See: The Color of Money- the scene where Newman bets Cruise that he will be leaving with the cute girl.

tc said...

Althouse blog;10-18-07 Female executives are far less decent than male; "acquaintances" and refusal to help other women

Ah Ann,

This is another reason why women should not be working, but home with their children. Like you, for instance.


Trooper York said...

John, if you are ever in NYC, let's definately get together for a few cocktails. But not at Hooters. Because if you hang out with me, every bar is Hooters. Or least has them avialable for your viewing pleasure.