If you’re anything like me, you don’t hear, but listen; you don’t see, but observe; you don’t say something, you mean it.
You are not simply there, You are present (most of the time at least.)
So, If you’re anything like me, this may come in handy.
There’s a way some people will try to exploit you, or may have already done so, and I know how to block it.
Read on.\

Anyone who saw me even once knows what makes me engaged & interested in a conversation.
New Challenges
When someone talks to me about a new idea to create or capture value, or to solve a problem, I’m suddenly all ears.
I can’t just ignore it, well, better to say I couldn’t.
About 7 or 8 years ago I used to get involved in that idea so much that I spent many hours thinking about it, generating new ideas, researching and experimenting, working on prototypes and designs, and after all that enthusiastic work I either found out that the other person only used my weak spot to get advantage of my time and expertise, or he wasn’t serious or even interested at all in the first place.
You may think now: Well, That’s so kinda amateurish!
Think Again. I bet you also have been in these kinds of situation, albeit I hope not on the other side.
These situations made me feel bad, like very bad, but as I’m not a fan of victim mentality and blaming others, I took the initiative to make this stop once and for all, and I’ve successful in doing so.
Here are my 3 Golden Questions I Ask Myself when someone talks to me about an idea or a problem:

1- What’s This Person’s Track Record?

Does he have a bad history with me?
Is he someone who really cares about solving new problems? Is he the type of person who would go through hardships of solving a new problem or a solution to create/capture value? or Is he just all talk and nothing more?
Be careful not to rule out new comers with no track records. Everyone starts somewhere.
Asking other questions helps with avoiding this fault.

2- What Have He Done So Far?

Nowadays it’s one of the first things that pop in my mind.
If this thing you’re talking about is worth it like you say, well, you must have done something about it, right?
It’s easy to fiWhat Have You Done So Far?
Ask non-intrusive questions to find out what’s been done so far.
Oh, A startup to help people optimize their college choices? Nice.
Do you know how people choose which college to go? If so, how?
If it’s only your opinion, or if only asked your sister and her friend, then guess what, It doesn’t count.
Are there any similar product/services out there?
If so, How are you going to differentiate yourself, sustainably and for a long run? You may not have all answer yet, but surely you though about it, right?\

3-How Much Time/Energy He’s Going to Invest in This Himself?\

Don’t ask this directly
This is a simple indicator of how serious a person is.
Ask him to do something, and return to you with the result. If he doesn’t come back, means he didn’t even took a single small step, yet expects you to do so. RUN.

I will another take a step forward only If I’m convinced that this person is not talking just to take advantage of my time & expertise, or just to simply talk and appear active and interesting.
Only after I got satisfying answer all these 3 questions I go on to consider if I’d like to work with this person, or on this challenge.
This helps me stay focused on things that matter most, and only choose new challenges that are worthwhile my time.\

One important thing is that I always take into account is that I don’t expect anyone to know answers to these questions because there are no concrete and absolute answer, that’s the nature of doing something new.\

Morale of story:\

I consider my time precious, and I also treat others and their time likewise, because after all, time is the only resource that cannot be renewed, and it’s much more limited than we may think.