In Chapter 8, "The Solvable Problem," you'll see how you can create a sense of purpose and mission through your questions and inspire people to pitch in, or maybe even write a check. You'll meet Karen Osborne, who has raised millions of dollars, and Rick Leach, who wants to feed the world. You can borrow from their approach to become your own pied piper. You'll discover surprising ways to improve listening, set common goals, and take concrete action.
Chapter 9 ventures into the unknown and the unexplained to see how scientific questions can solve the mysteries of the world. You will meet the doctor-researcher who threw himself at HIV/AIDS and Ebola when people were dying and the public was in panic. You'll also find inspiration and ideas you can apply in your own life.
Next come the money questions. You're trying to fill a job. You want the job. What you ask tests your compatibility and, just maybe, predicts the future. Chapter 10 shows you how these questions get asked—from both sides. You'll meet a CEO who goes for the team approach and a technology veteran who just might ask about your favorite aisle in the supermarket.
Entertaining questions can turn your boring dinner into a theater of wit and ideas and provocative conversation. Be your own talk show host. In Chapter 11, you'll learn ways to draw out memorable dialogue and keep the conversation moving, using ideas from one of the most engaging and curious people I've ever met. Invite Socrates to supper—if you dare. Serve this recipe at your next meal and you'll have everyone talking.
Finally, what does it all mean? Chapter 12 asks legacy questions that reveal your life story and craft an uplifting narrative of accomplishment and gratitude. These questions from the edge will help you step back and take stock of what you have done and the people you have known. Here, you meet the rabbi who gets asked about God's intentions and read the curious words of a twenty-five-year-old who questions her future. I introduce you to one of the bravest people I've ever met.
At the back of the book, I provide a guide that summarizes the question categories and their component parts, with a few ideas you can try to become a more effective questioner.
This book is not prescriptive. It doesn't tell you how to ask in every situation. But it does offer examples that demonstrate the power of questions and the benefits of deep, nuanced listening. The categories reflect a range of curiosity. As you will see, each enlists different asking skills in search of distinct outcomes. Humans are built to be curious, that much is in our DNA. This book illustrates how some of the most successful people have honed their curiosity and developed an ability to ask and to listen that has served them extraordinarily well.
Our questions reflect who we are, where we go, and how we connect. They help us learn and they help us lead because effective questioning marshals support and enlists others to join. After all, asking people to solve a problem or come up with a new idea turns the responsibility over to them. It says, "You're smart, you're valuable, you know what you're doing—what would you do about this problem?"
My aim in writing this book is to show you the power of questions and how it can be applied effectively and freely. Enjoy and learn from the exceptional questioners you meet here.
And then, ask more.
SOMETHING'S NOT RIGHT
There are days reporters dread, but they come with the territory. A tumor, a phone call, and then a pit in your stomach, no matter how seasoned you are. A passenger jet has disappeared. Air traffic controllers lost contact with the crew. The plane vanished from radar screens. Airline and aviation authorities are racing to figure out what's gone wrong. So are we.
In the newsroom, we are scrambling, preparing to go on the air with the story. What exactly will we say? What do we know? Where will definitive information come from? And when? We deploy reporters. We're all over the FAA and the FBI and the airline. We're using new flight-tracking apps. We're working sources, contacting anyone who might have heard anything. We brace ourselves for the most perilous time in live TV— that period after something happens but before anyone in authority can confirm what actually happened. If we get it wrong, we spread misinformation, scare innocent people, and may even affect the actions of first responders. We tarnish our credibility and outrage our viewers.