The surprising power of questions


I’ve always been a fan of questions – I’ve devoted an entire category on this blog to questions. Probably because I always ask a lot of them myself. And I tend to question most everything around me, but especially authority. I was that annoying kid in every class raising his hand again with yet another question.

I’ve learned empirically that questions are one of the most powerful tools in an entrepreneur’s toolkit and have been my most used tool as a mentor.

I’d don’t have a lot to add to this fantastic article from The Harvard Business School Review entitled The Surprising Power of Questions by Alison Wood Brooks and
Leslie K. John. So I won’t be annotating his lengthy article as I usually do. But here’s a sample from the article:


Alison’s research, using human coding and machine learning, revealed four types of questions:

  1. introductory questions (“How are you?”),
  2. mirror questions (“I’m fine. How are you?”)
  3. full-switch questions (ones that change the topic entirely)
  4. follow-up questions (ones that solicit more information). 

And this quote from Albert Einstein: Question everything.

The one thing I will add is that there are two situations where I’m judging the questions rather than the answers. The first is in recruiting. I pay a lot of attention to the nature and depth of a candidate’s questions. The nature of their questions reveals how well they have prepped for the interview, what they know about my venture, and how curious they are. The second is in presentations. As posted elsewhere, the number and quality of the audience’s questions is how I judge how well my presentation went over.

I highly recommend you read the entire article and learn how to make questions an indispensable tool in your toolkit.

Author: Mentorphile

Mentor, coach, and advisor to entrepreneurs, small businesses, and non-profit organizations. General manager with significant experience in both for-profit and non-profit organizations. Focus on media and information. On founding team of four venture-backed companies. Currently Chairman of Popsleuth, Inc., maker of the Endorfyn app for keeping fans updated on new stuff from their favorite artists.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: