How to Ask Better Questions from Tim Ferriss



To think means to ask questions. The form of questions that we ask matter because well-formulated questions can lead us to the answers we are searching for. The practice of asking questions, especially better questions, is becoming rare these days as people are more favoring answers than questions. We all want answers but we seem to forget that the only way to get better answers is by asking better questions. To understand what makes good questions, Tim Ferriss, the best-selling author, the host of podcast Tim Ferriss show, a modern day of Stoic philosopher, offers some practical tools on guiding us to be better at asking better questions.

These are some of the main points of the video:

    1. Ask questions that can be answered quickly and concretely

“Can it be answered relatively quickly? For instance, if you found someone you idolize in an elevator, Jimmy Fallon, if you asked Jimmy a question, could he come up with a really concrete answer in 5 second or less. If the answer is no, find a different question, for you or for other people. What is your favorite book for instance, not a good question, because people have read hundreds or thousands of books in many cases. But what book or books have you gifted the most to other people? It’s gonna be a short list. The search query is really refined. It’s fast click.

Much like asking yourself: what makes me happy? It’s not really a great question, too broad and takes too long to search. But let’s just say: what makes me feel most relieved after work when I get home?” […] Now it’s more refined and you can answer it much more quickly and is more actionable.

    2. Don’t ask questions that can be answered on Google

“A few things you should not do, if you meet someone who is, say, above your weight class in terms of professional development and you want to connect with them, don’t ask them questions that you can answer on google.”

   3. Avoid broad questions

“Don’t ask them really broad questions. They couldn’t conceivably answer quickly. What should I do? What advice would you give me for succeeding? These are not good terms. If you can’t define success, in say, 10 words or less, get rid of it, lose it from the question.”

At the end of the video, Ferriss, who has been asking hundreds of excellent questions on his podcast, says:

“And I would encourage you to strive to be interested in the form of good questions, if you seek to be perceived as interesting. Stop talking. Start thinking about questions. And then stop and listen.”

Steve Jobs on the secrets of life



Transcript from the interview between Steve Jobs and the Santa Clara Valley Historical Association in 1994:

When you grow up, you tend to get told that the world is the way it is and your life is just to live your life inside the world, try not to bash into the walls too much, try to have a nice family life, have fun, save a little money. But life, that is a very limited life. Life can be much broader. Once you discover one simple fact, and that is everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you, and you can change it, you can influence it. You can build your own thing that other people can use. 

And the minute that you understand that you can poke life and actually something , if you push in and something will pop out the other side, you can change it, you can mold it. That is maybe the most important thing. It is to shake off this erroneous notion that life is there and you are just gonna live in it versus embrace it, change it, improve it, make your mark upon it.

I think that is very important, however you learn that, once you learn it, you will want to change life and make it better because it is kind of messed up in a lot of ways. Once you learn that, you will never be the same again.”

Via: (Silicon Valley Historical Association)

If you want to see the full-length interview with Steve Jobs discussing his values as a person and an entrepreneur, his thoughts on failure, and his advice to entrepreneurs, you can purchase the video here: (Silicon Valley Historical Association)




George Saunders on the value of Kindness



“What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness. Those moments when another human beings was there, in front of me, suffering, and I responded. . .sensibly. Reservedly. Mildly.”–George Saunders.

Beautifully illustrated by Tim Bierbaum of Serious Lunch and narrated by George Saunders himself, this video was inspired by the commencement speech that George Saunders gave for the class of 2013 at Syracuse University. In our age of endless cruelty and selfishness, we need kindness more than anything else. To be kind is to acknowledge the fundamental truth of humanity, that is human beings are essentially collages of other humans’ actions and dreams, alive or dead. 

To cherish Saunders’ wisdom on kindness, read his full speech on The New York Times