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'Ask More' - 80/20 Summary

Updated: Nov 30, 2021


Mental Models from the book:

'Ask More' can be summarised into 11 mental models:

1. Alloying

  • Making connections between unrelated questions, problems or ideas is the most effective way to innovate.

2. Authority

  • Project moral authority by evoking a statement from a respected 3rd party. This takes the attack from you as the questioner to someone with expertise, trust or moral authority.

  • Challenge the experts. They owe you an explanation as to what's going on. Ask them:

    1. How did they reach their conclusion?

    2. What was their process?

    3. What are your options?

    4. How would they feel if their mother was in the same position?

3. Curiosity Instinct

  • The more you show genuine curiosity, the more people will open up and trust you.

  • Some of the best questions don't have question marks:

    1. Tell me more.

    2. Please explain that to me.

    3. Go on.

  • Be playful: Ask a person if they would be willing to play a game, for example: give them a name or a topic, and ask them to give you a 1-word answer.

4. Ego

  • When others talk, do you convert what you hear into a reference about you or a similar experience you had?

5. Emotions: Anger

  • People who are angry, don't usually find others who listen. A person who affirms acknowledges and listens can provide a welcome solace.

6. Liking

  • People remember how you make them feel not what you say.

7. Narrative Instinct

  • 'How' questions trigger explanations, background and stories.

8. Newton's 3rd Law: Action & Reaction

  • Ask without comment or judgment and then allow the silence to linger. This allows the person to reflect and answer more deeply.

  • Bad news is good news. If you want to fix a problem you need to look for it and not bury your head in the sand.

9. Resistance

  • Be respectful, charismatic yet forceful and skeptical when asking questions. For example: Mr. President. You seem so sincere in your quest for peace. Why don't you do something to demonstrate that to Israel? Perhaps you could open some direct human contact with Israel. Why not allow an exchange of journalists, or athletes or scholars?"

10. Stress

  • Start by asking safe questions. When the person seems relaxed, ask the deeper, more probing questions.

  • Ask people questions that you (and they) already know the answer to. Get into a comfortable dialogue so that they feel at ease and then take the questioning somewhere that they had no anticipated.

  • Ask people about what shaped them and what adversities they faced.

11. System 1 vs System 2

System 1 questions are easy for people to answer, they do not require much thinking. System 2 involves thinking and can make people defensive.


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