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Welcome back to the MPN Thought Leader Podcast series. In this podcast, we speak with industry leaders about their perspective on doing business in the technology industry. Episodes feature interviews with inspiring speakers David Meerman Scott, Jo Burston, Dux Raymond Sy and Mario Carvajal, Carol Roth, Tim Hurson, Kris Plachy, and Mike Harvath and Reed Warren, covering topics from marketing to management to the future of the Intelligent Cloud.

tim_hursotnIn parts one and two of today’s episode, we hear from writer and creativity theorist Tim Hurson about how and why people think the way they do. Tim is the author of Think Better: An Innovator’s Guide to Productive Thinking; his techniques have helped various Fortune 500 companies in the US, UK, and Canada innovate and create new marketing and product development programs. In this podcast, Tim breaks down the statistics behind decision-making processes, thought structure and idea generation. He provides actionable tools and approaches that can help you make better decisions, defer judgment, and access your subconscious to improve your professional skills and business intelligence.

 

Listen on iTunes: Part 1 & Part 2

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This podcast is available for download on iTunes, SoundCloud, iHeartRadio, Google Play Music, and YouTube. For a full transcript of today’s podcast, please see below.

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[VOICEOVER]:  Welcome to the Microsoft Partner Network Thought Leader Podcast Series. Today, we talk with Tim Hurson, author of Think Better: An Innovator’s Guide to Productive Thinking, which has been translated into nine languages and is used in business schools throughout the world.

He’s also the author of Never Be Closing: How to Sell Better Without Screwing Your Clients, Your Colleagues, or Yourself, which was named by the Oprah Winfrey Network as one of the 15 best self-improvement books of 2015.

In part 1 of this 2-part episode, Tim looks at the tools, processes, and approaches that can put thought structure into practice to help generate more ideas and make better decisions with your clients and in your businesses.

INTERVIEWER:  Welcome to Tim Hurson.

TIM: Thanks, Shannon.

INTERVIEWER: Thank you so much for joining me today.  Tim, you’ve been involved in creativity and innovation for most of your career.  It seems like you’ve shifted focus a little bit.  Can you tell us where that shift is leading you now?

TIM:  Well, one of the interesting things about the creative bunch — and by the creative bunch I’m talking about people who deal with ideation techniques, people who get involved in innovation processes and so on and so forth — is we often talk about that; we use that awful phrase outside the box or inside the box, depending on which way you look at it.

And I came to realize that we actually have put ourselves in a box.  Over the years people have developed a range of tools and philosophies, principles, approaches to thinking ‘cause it’s all about how well you think.  And we’ve been inside that creative problem-solving box, that innovation box.

And a couple of years ago it occurred to me that the tools that have been developed, many of them are really much more universal than just in that box, and that they might be applicable to — my second book, for example, is about sales — might be applicable beyond sales to strategic investigations, might be applicable beyond that, in fact, to family matters.

And I’ve been experimenting with that and playing around with these tools and modifying them obviously somewhat in order to do that.  And I’ve discovered that really what they are is not a bunch of creativity tools, not a bunch of strategic tools; they’re actually life skills.

And there are things that almost anyone can use in a wide variety of situations to do better.  So that’s the genesis of this thing.  And my sense is if we can take these tools out into the world there are countless fields and countless people who could benefit by those simple things.  And here’s the thing; they’re so simple.  It’s just that people tend not to do them.

INTERVIEWER:  So what kind of tools are we talking about?

TIM:  Well, let me take a step back from tools and talk first about principles because all of the tools work not so much within a framework but they are supported by a set of principles.  And there’s a bunch but I’m going to list three.  One is the principle of lists.

And I know that that doesn’t sound like a really deep principle but I said this stuff was simple.  Another one is the principle of structure and a third one is a principle of deferred judgment.  So we’ve got these three principles.  Let me start with the principle of structure.  So human beings do things well because we have developed structures through which to do them.

We are better athletes because we know how to train.  And we have developed regimens that allow us to improve our performance, whether it’s golf or marathons or whatever it is, any athlete knows that there’s a system or a structure that you have to employ.  Musicians do the same thing.  There’s hardly a field of human endeavor that doesn’t — we’re on structure; we’re in this amazingly big building.

Well, people don’t just pour sand on the ground and a building appears.  There’s design, there’s plan, there’s structure.  And yet when it comes to most kinds of thinking — not all, but most kinds of thinking people don’t use structure at all.  They just sort of grab ideas and opinions from — I don’t know, from the ether, from the sky.

And if you could impose — and it is kind of an imposition — structure on the way we think in the same we impose structure on a golf swing, wouldn’t it be interesting?  ‘Cause here’s the funny thing; everybody says — and if they don’t say it they think it – “I think as well as I can.”  Like there’s this inherent belief that we were born with this brain and some people are smart and some people are not smart and some people are creative and some people are not creative.  It’s nonsense.

Who would say about their golf game, “I played the best game of golf I can?”  Nobody because everybody knows you can get better.  How do you get better?  Through structure.  So first principle is that if we impose often very simple structures on our thinking we can do better.  Second principle is the principle of lists.

So those people who are involved in strategic planning again and innovation and creative thinking, they’re used to lists.  You’ve got those flip charts full of lists and post-it notes and all of that stuff.  And listing is part of the process.  And yet when you go home, for example, and you want to think about a simple domestic decision or you want to decide on a vacation plan or you’re having an argument and you’re trying to come up with a reasonable position, you don’t make lists; you make them in your head.

Well, that’s kind of okay except for the fact that we can’t keep a whole lot of things in our head.  There’s that old myth — and it is a myth — that the most number of things we can keep in our head at one time is seven, and it’s actually slightly lower statistically.

But imagine that; imagine throwing away all those flip chips, which may be boring but useful, and relying on only the five ideas that actually can stay in your mind at one time.  You’re really limiting yourself astonishingly by doing that, so just making lists is useful.

And then the final one, the thing about deferring judgment, I want to come back to that later.  So now let’s tie that together with some tools.  So what’s the simplest tools you could use — and I said they were simple — the simplest possible you could use is make that list.

If I have a variety of options, or I have a decision to make which might involve variety of options, just listing what those options are will first of all relieve me from that limit of five to seven things that I can remember.  And as I write them down, what will happen is I’ll automatically be stimulated — automatically.

You don’t even have to do it to write another thing because something will remind you of something else.  You will see visually — and we’re visual creatures — you’ll see visually something that stimulates you to write another idea.

So suddenly you’ll have a list, not of those four or five things that you can actually remember, but a list of — I don’t know, maybe eight or nine things.  Not too bad.  Suddenly just by doing that we’ve doubled the amount.  And you can think of all kinds of situations where that might be useful.

And here’s the other thing; it takes no time.  It actually takes very, very little time.  So forget structure; just by the list you have increased your options.  Now impose structure, and you begin to have what we sometimes think of a tool.

So let’s take that list and structure it in a particular way.  One of my favorite tools, and one which many of my colleagues used — I developed it, I guess, fifteen years ago — and I developed it kind of as an afterthought, as a side thing, and started to use it.  And I saw what happened when people used it, and it was almost miraculous.

It’s called Know Wonder, and all you do is you divide your paper into two lists; not just one, but two.  And on the one side you write down all the things you know about this particular issue.  Now you may be wrong.  Whether you know them or not, not important; just write down.  And so now you’ve got seven or eight or nine or ten things that you know about this issue that you have to decide on.

And the other side of the list you write out all of the things that you don’t know, that maybe you should know.  And that’s your list of wonders.  So know and wonder, now suddenly you probably have not those ten or twelve that we talked about earlier, but now there’s 24.  And guess what?  Every single wonder usually has a question mark behind it.

So it in turn stimulates you to think about more issues that either you’re going to have research or you’re going to have to understand better or they will lead you in a particular way down a variety of paths.  So what we’ve done is we’ve combined the most simple kind of list with a most simple kind of structure; just two columns and suddenly the world changes.

And I’m not exaggerating; the world changes for you and the people around you.  So now imagine that you have this super simple list, and instead of doing it with one person you do it with two people.  So you and a colleague write down all the things you know and all the things you wonder.

And you’re going to know different things; in fact, you might disagree about what you know.  And sometimes what you wonder about, your colleague might know the answer to or direction and vice versa.  So suddenly there’s a cauldron of chemicals brewing here which allows you to have even more information and more perspective and more depth on the issue.

We’ve still just done the most simple thing; list two columns, that’s it.  We all have this phrase that we use, which is let’s get on the same page.  What a great way to be on the same page.  Ever been to a meeting where you thought you were on the same page and you weren’t?

Here’s a simple way to not ensure, because guarantees are hard to come by, but to make it a lot more likely that you and the one person that you’re working with are not just figuratively on the same page, but literally on the same page.  You can take that and multiple it again to a couple groups of two and now you have different perspectives and so on.

So there’s an example of combining two of the principles, the principle of list and the principle of structures and coming up with a pretty simple tool.  I can give you another one, and I don’t want to go into too much detail on the tools themselves ‘cause it’s probably hard to follow in the form of a podcast, is another great tool for evaluation.

One of the things I’ve noticed about organizations is that they’re willing to spend a whole lot of money upfront but not a whole lot of money measuring results.  And so it’s a pretty good idea usually to do an after action review; what worked, what didn’t work, what might we do next time.

Well, a great tool to do that is a tool that I call GPS.  Now we take the two columns that we had in the know wonder; we expand it by a column.  You’ve got three columns, G, P and S.  The G stands for good or great, the P stands for problematic and the S stands for step-ups.

So what we do is we take an event that occurred, an action that we did, a plan that we did, a sales meeting that we did; an idea even that we might have, and we put it through a GPS system.  We can do it either by ourselves or with one or two or however many other people.

And we make that nice long list of all the good stuff that oh, we were terrific here; we really succeeded there.  And we put down a list of all the stuff that didn’t go so well.  You have to be kind of ego free, and that’s another sub-principle of this, and I’ll get back to that when we talk about that deferred judgment thing that we talked about earlier.

So put down all of the problematic issues.  And then finally we take a look at that S for step-ups.  And we go back to the good stuff and say how might we step that up; how can we make it even better?  We’re not satisfied.  So we start enhancing the good and then we go to the problematic and we say well, how can we step that up?  Well, how can we reduce or eliminate or even reverse a particular problem?

So once again, one list times three, three columns, a bunch of people and you have a really, really interesting way and a quick way of evaluating a process, a project, whatever it is.  Then from that GPS you use another tool; super simple, not about lists this time.

What do I have to start doing, what do I have to stop doing and what do I have to keep doing but do better.  These are the kinds of things that when you say them, you say oh yeah, that’s so obvious.

INTERVIEWER:  But nobody takes the time to do the drill.

TIM:  Who does?

INTERVIEWER:  Right, exactly.  It sounds like these are all tools that teams can get better at over time and can be really more productive, even.  The first time you go through the listing exercise it might be a little difficult but then kind of trained to get better at over time.

TIM:  Yeah, it’s true.  I said earlier that this is all simple stuff.  And it is simple; it’s simple to say.  But to put it in practice is much harder.  Every major religion in the world has some form of love thy neighbor.  Pretty simple to say, right; it’s three words.

INTERVIEWER:  Tricky.

TIM:  But let’s take a look at the world around us and we know how hard that is to execute.  So in the same way, this stuff is simple to say, simple to conceptualize, but it is difficult.  And there are a couple of reasons that it’s difficult.  One goes back to that principle that I haven’t elaborated on yet, the principle of deferring of judgment.

So we creatures are bred, in a sense; it’s in our genes to evaluate our environment.  You walk down the street and consciously or subconsciously you evaluate your environment.  You’re walking through the jungle; is there danger here?  Is there food there?

We’re constantly in this mode of is it good, is it bad, is it going to be problematic, is it going to be something I’m going to like, pain/pleasure?  Well, that’s so deeply embedded in us that when somebody comes up, for example, with an idea about something — doesn’t matter what it’s about — we will start to evaluate it before it’s even finished being articulated.

So it’s either good/positive or it’s threatening/negative.  And as the ideas are articulated, we want a weigh in with our opinion.  As a result of that, we often don’t have the opportunity to make lists because we get stuck on the first thing we hear.  Well, that’s not a particularly good idea.  Or we could say that’s a great idea.  It’s not negative; it’s all kinds of evaluation that are problematic.

What they do is they prevent us from generating enough material to really think about it.  So the analogy I like to use with regard to deferral of judgment is imagine that you’re some ancient Fiji Islander and you’re paddling your outrigger canoe into the lagoon and you know that there’s an oyster bed out there, and you dive in for oysters.

So you dive in, grab an oyster, climb back up in your boat, take your shucking knife out, open the oyster; pearl or no pearl.  Dive in again, another oyster.  Back in the boat, shucking knife, open the oyster; pearl or no pearl.  Well, let’s say you can make 50 dives; that’s 50 oysters and whatever the chance is of finding a pearl.

I have no idea what the numerical thing is, but it’s probably not that high.  So you get a couple of pearls.  What if you decided to defer judgment; that is don’t open the oyster, but go down with a little bag and oyster, oyster, oyster, oyster, oyster; swim up, don’t even get into the boat.  Hurl the bag in, grab another bag; make the same 50 dives.

Then when you come out of the water into the boat, you’ve got 50 bags full of oysters and obviously 50 bags times the numbers of opportunities to find those pearls.  Are you going to come up with more than a couple of pearls?  You are.  It’s almost exactly the same way when it comes to any kind of idea.

And I’m not even talking about creative ideas.  I’m talking about any idea.  I’m going to have more quality ideas just by looking for more ideas.

INTERVIEWER:  And being open to that.

TIM:  Being open.  So part of that, ‘cause we talked earlier about — one of the processes we talked about, the GPS process is you have to be ego free, particularly when it comes to the problematic side.

INTERVIEWER:  Which is tough, yeah.

TIM:  Ego is one of the factors that goes into judgment.  This is threatening to me, to my self esteem.  So when you do a GPS, for example, you have to say, you know what, I’m going to put my ego on hold. — when somebody says, “Tim, one of the problems was…” and names the fact that I was late or that I was sloppy or whatever it happens to be.

And unless I do that, that idea won’t get onto the table sufficiently; I’m start arguing about it and we’ll actually lose focus completely.  But wouldn’t it be great if we did identify a problem that I had that could change the performance of the team and accelerate it way beyond what it was right now?

So that’s where this deferral of judgment — now deferral of judgment does not mean no judgment.  What it means is grab all those resources, then revisit the resources afterwards and now start making some choices, now start making some evaluation.

So a short form is make lists — that was one of the principles — make choices, in that order.  Make lists, make choices.  Do that one simple principle with every list that you do.  You’ll have more ideas, better ideas, more performance, better performance, guaranteed 100 percent of the time.

[VOICEOVER]:  Tim concludes his discussion in part 2 of this episode.

Check out the other podcast episodes in this series to learn more from Microsoft Partner Network Thought Leaders. Keep in touch with us via LinkedIn, Facebook, and YouTube by searching for the Microsoft Partner Network, and be sure to follow us on Twitter with the handle @mspartner. And if you like the podcast, don’t forget to rate and review it.

PART 2

[VOICEOVER]:  Welcome back to the Microsoft Partner Network Thought Leader Podcast Series. In part 2 of this 2-part interview, we continue our talk with Tim Hurson about applying structure to our thinking in order to solve problems better.

Tim explains that, by far, the largest processing part of the brain is the subconscious. Relying on only the logical, or conscious, part of our brain is akin to counting on fingers versus using a calculator.

INTERVIEWER:  So here’s a question for you.  Let’s say I’m going to follow this procedure of make lists, make choices.  At what point do I feel like I have completed step one and I’m now ready to move to step two, ‘cause I think one of the problems I have as a person is I tend to make that list, get to something that’s really interesting, jump off the list to go focus on that thing.  So how do I know that I’ve done the rigor and stayed with it?

TIM:  So answering that question is kind of like predicting the future so I don’t know if I should get into reading the future.  But there’s certainly once again principles that you can use to help.  You can set a numerical target.

You can simply say for this particular project I’m planning a vacation.  I’m going to write down fifteen possible choices.  And that’s going to be better than what we started with, which was gee, I wonder where I’m going to go on vacation.  So even if it’s not necessarily the super optimum best, it’s going to be substantially better than where you started.

The second thing that one can do is to take a break.  One of the things that we know is — and we know this from cognitive science and neuroscience — is that it is really hard, that the process of making decisions is very different from the process of generating options.  This is a different process.  And it may be a very good idea to separate those two.

So you might say to yourself let’s spend the next fifteen minutes generating some lists.  And then tomorrow let’s look at the lists again.  And when you do that several things will happen.  One is you will be stimulated by the list to come up possibly with some more ideas.  But you will also have been incubated.  Whether you know it or not your brain works in the backend.

Your brain is always working; it’s doing a great job.  And everybody’s had the experience of going to sleep with a problem and waking up with a solution, or at least close to a solution.  Well, that process of incubation is really powerful.  So you come back and you look at the list and you will have a different perspective, probably a better perspective on the list itself.  So it almost doesn’t matter how long the list is — I’m being a little extreme — it almost doesn’t matter how long the list is as long as you feel that you’ve gone past.

And here’s the key that you’ve gone past the obvious — ‘cause we tend to list the things that are easiest, most familiar, most obvious first — push yourself to the stuff that feels kind of uncomfortable ‘cause it’s not so obvious or conventional.  And then once again push yourself even further because there’s another principle that I should mention; it’s call the principle of the third third, and it’s one of the coolest of all.

There’s good psychological study that says that in a brainstorming session, the first third of ideas are those mundane, everybody’s had them before ideas.  Second third, those are a little bit away from the norm but they’re still rooted in reality in a sense.  The third third, that’s those wacky ideas, those crazy ideas.

And the odd thing is that sometimes the best solutions you will ever come up with — not always, of course — are in that third third.  So when you feel — and it’s a feel — I’m getting to those crazy ideas.  Maybe I’m really tired, maybe I’m just forcing myself and there’s tools that actually can facilitate forcing yourself to get into that space.  That’s the time to say let’s get a couple more of those third third ideas and then let’s stop.

INTERVIEWER:  And then maybe take a break and come back to it tomorrow and see if they still sound crazy?  That’s great.  So one of the things I thought was really interesting was this idea that you can use these tools and this kind of thinking for any sort of decision making.

And while we think there are differences between strategic thinking and creative thinking or analytical and evaluative thinking, you’re saying that these tools apply sort of across the board to any kind of thinking; how does that work?

TIM:  So here’s a good example of that.  And this applies particularly to people in the business that Microsoft is in, the software business.  Earlier we talked about structure, so algorithms or codes, what can be more highly structured than that?  And we rely on data a lot.  And we’ve almost made a God out of data.  Well, data’s great; it’s fabulous.

But the largest portions of our brains, by far the largest portion and by far the fastest processing portion of our brains is that thing that’s called the subconscious, that emotional level of the brain.

INTERVIEWER:  The gut, right?

TIM:  The so-called gut.  So if you rely only on the logic part of your brain, it’s kind of like counting on your fingers literally.  You’ve got one, two, three, four, five.  If you allow, if you can open the emotional portion of your brain, the feeling, the gut portion of the brain, it’s like the most powerful super computer that you can possibly have.

And this is not a metaphor; this is actually true.  Your brain is calculating an astonishing number of things.  We just generally don’t have access to them.  And so we have this name for it; we call it intuition.  But it’s not magic; it’s actually there.  So we have to give ourselves the opportunity to get to it.  So let’s come back to decision making.

So how often has it happened where people have been in a room and they’ve made rigorous numerical decisions?  What is the likelihood of this happening, what is the importance of the issue when we add this matrix and we add numbers and rows and columns?  And we come up with that item number one scores a 92.6 and item number seven scores an 89.4.

And everybody kind of looks at that decision and somewhere inside them they say you know what?  But I think number seven is better.

INTERVIEWER:  So we get held up by that number?

TIM:  Yeah, but 92; there’s a reason that you’re saying I think number seven is better.  Now again, nobody can predict the future; you don’t know for sure.  But I can guarantee you one thing; that the people who make the decision that they feel right about are going to be more committed to that solution than the people who don’t.

So that’s where this stuff come in.  It doesn’t deny the value of data; not at all.  What it tries to do is enhance the value of data with a whole other portion of our brain that we know is there.  Everybody knows it’s there.  There’s no such thing as a sixth sense.  That’s that bucket; just dump everything into the sixth sense.

We know it’s there.  Why not try to access it in a meaningful, once again structured way.  And that’s why the principles and tools that we’re talking about can move way out of the realm of creativity and into powerful strategic decisions.  Good financial decisions; really good financial decisions.

Powerful decisions as it relates to your role in the community and your social circle and your family and so on.  Decisions about marketing programs and on and on and on and on.  I hate to quote or refer to Steve Jobs.  Everybody talks about Steve Jobs all the time.  But one of the things about Jobs is he had gut.  And there’s a lot of proof that he did a pretty good job with that.

INTERVIEWER:  So if you could give our partners homework to do, what homework would you give them?

TIM:  Good question.  I think one of the things to do would be to just do some small practice.  So we started out this interview with small stuff, with the power of a single list.  Often what happens is that when you teach people new process or new structure, and particularly if they get excited about it, they try to apply it to the biggest, most humungous problem that they’ve ever had.  They’re not ready.

It’s like you weren’t ready to run a marathon after you took your first step as a baby.  You had to learn; you had to get used to it.  So what I would suggest is take some of these simple principles that we talked about, the principle of list, the principle of structures, the principle of deferral of judgment, the principle of incubation, and there’s some others that I haven’t mentioned but I should.

There’s a principle of stating things as questions as opposed to statements.  Statements are flat; they’re lifeless and we don’t have enough budget.  How about we get more budget?  Now your brain is activated instantly, so principle of asking questions.  And try them on little things.

Say I’m so dissatisfied with the way I’ve organized my workspace.  Let me see how I can do a better job of that, not big stuff.  And see what works; become habituated in a sense to approaching things in this way.  Become habituated to not judging right away, just hold back just a little bit.  Doesn’t mean you don’t judge.  Write it down on the side but don’t verbalize it.  It’s those small things that can add up.

So the homework would be it’s kind of like for those of you who do music, it’s like scales.  Great musicians practice their scales.  Pablo Casals practiced his scales into his 90s.  Here’s the weird thing; musicians never perform their scales but they couldn’t perform without them.

Same thing; little steps, get used to it and you’ll begin to feel and see the results of this new kind of thinking.

INTERVIEWER:  It seems like it’s instituting a sort of deliberateness about the way you go about making decisions rather than just assuming the right answer will come if you have the right kinds of discussions.  But there’s a very deliberateness about adding structure and doing lists and applying principles.

TIM:  In a sense the homework is tested out but not on the biggest problem that you’ve ever had.  Start small and you will see; it happens with our clients all the time.  They’ll say we’ve been wrestling with this problem for two years, and in less than two hours we’ve made headway that we hadn’t made in the past.

So it actually becomes pretty obvious pretty quickly.  It is not hard to convert people once they try.  It’s not hard; it’s actually pretty easy because they see it works.  It’s not a miracle, it’s not a magic pill, it’s not a silver bullet but it works.

INTERVIEWER:  And I’m sure our partners will have questions and want to pursue more information.  Where would be a good place for them to go for more information on your ideas and thoughts?

TIM:  A couple things.  The web page is TimHurson.com.  There are descriptions of the two books that currently exist; that’s Think Better and Never Be Closing.  There is a third book coming out which is called at the moment — it’s not written yet, or at least finished — it’s called How to Use Your Noodle.

And it is literally a list — it’s like a little recipe book, I guess, cookbook of my favorite tools; the ones that I have noticed go way beyond that creativity and innovation space and can be used in virtually any context.  And the way it’s organized is here are a bunch of context kinds of things that we often encounter and here are a bunch of tools that might work within that.

Here’s a bunch of different context and a bunch of other tools that might work with that.  Of course there’s some overlap.  And that will be coming out hopefully within the next six or seven months.  So those are good places to go.  My email is Tim@TimHurson.com.  I am really open.  I like to share this material.  People can write me.  There’s LinkedIn, too.

INTERVIEWER:  So are there any more principles that we should touch on before we conclude today?

TIM:  Oh my goodness, there are.  Let me just elaborate a little bit more on the principle of questions.  And there’s a simple way to maybe illustrate this.  So if I were to say here we are sitting in Toronto and I happen to be going to Toledo.  And I could say, It’s far from Toronto to Toledo.”

And when you hear that sentence you kind of take it in, you accept it.  Not much is happening in your brain.  But if I simply change that to a question and I say, “How far is it from Toledo to Toronto?” your brain gets activated.  It could get activated in a lot of different ways.  You might see the Indiana Jones plane flying across the globe.  You might see time zones.

But in some way your brain has become more engaged just by putting the question mark at the end of that thing.  So this idea of phrasing things as questions as opposed to statements is hugely powerful.  And you know MRI studies tell us that as well.  But you can go for it and that is you can ask what I call the right kind of questions.

I do a lot of work with doctors, I do a lot of work with engineers.  And I guess probably engineers are among the people who are listening to this.  Doctors and engineers have a particular problem — sorry doctors and engineers — and that is that they hate to be wrong.  They hate to be wrong. And there’s good reason for that.

You don’t want your doctor to be wrong and you probably don’t want an engineer who is designing a big system to be wrong, either.  But because they hate to be wrong they tend to ask questions that they already know the answers to.

So where do you go when you ask that kind of question?  Exactly where you already are.  The safe path is the one that takes you to where you’ve already been.  So asking those tough questions, asking sometimes those scary questions is really important.  So that’s another principle; ask the tough question, ask the scary question.  What’s going to motivate you more; going towards an ice cream sundae or running away from a lion?  You’re going to run away from the lion.

And we know that when we phrase questions. If we say, “Let’s talk about the opportunity involved in this thing,” and you do an MRI, a brain scan is like boop, boop, boop — nothing.  “Let’s talk about this weird problem that we’re facing.” The  MRI is BLOOP, BLOOP, BLOOP; it’s astonishing.  So let’s not fool ourselves.  We talked way in the beginning of this talk about walking through the jungle, the fight or flight principle.

That flight principle is powerful; we want to survive.  Why don’t we tap into it instead of trying to escape it all the time?  So that would be another principle.  You’re going to have to end this sometime, though.

INTERVIEWER:  Getting far too much good value out of it.  That’s probably a great spot.  Thank you so much for joining me today.  This has been really valuable information and I’m sure our partners will appreciate having heard all this.

TIM:  It’s really cool, Shannon.  This is fun and I kind of love the buzz that’s going on in the background, so I hope your folks like it, too.

INTERVIEWER:  Thank you so much.

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