top of page
  • Writer's pictureDavid de Souza

'Talk to Me' Summary

Updated: Jan 18, 2022


Mental Models from the book:

'Talk to Me' can be summarised into 10 mental models:

1. Activation Energy

  • 'Legacy Questions' are great questions to get started. Ask the person how they want to be remembered. This question will allow you to find out what is important to them.

  • 'The Noah Adam Question Technique': How did you think it was going to work out before it happened? Follow up with: How did it really work out?

  • Other great questions to get started include:

    1. What first got you interested in.....

    2. If you were a contestant on Jeopardy, what would be your specialist subject?

    3. How would your life have been different if...

    4. What is your favorite unimportant thing to do?

2. Critical Mass

  • Place any tough questions about 2/3rd of the way in the interview. You must have created enough rapport to allow the tough questions to be asked.

3. Ego

  • Play to people's ego: Tell them why interviewing them provides a unique perspective in understanding the big picture.

4. Emotions

  • 'There is a difference between asking a question that provides heat for heat's sake and one that provides heat for light's sake.

4.1 Emotions: Shame

  • Play to shame when a person does not respond to logic, self-interest, altruism and pleas for help you. Tell them that not talking to you is a breach of public trust or responsibility.

4.2 Emotions: Sympathy

  • Play to people's sympathies to get an interview. For example:

    1. "Don't you remember what it was like getting started in your career?" I could really use your help"

    2. "I have a father that I love. I know that if something like this happened to them, I would want the world to know how wonderful they were".

5. Equilibrium

  • The best questions are open-ended ones but don't ask an open-ended question that is too open-ended, resulting in meaningless answers. Asking someone "What was it like to live in the Arctic" will provide a vague answer of "cold". To get a better answer, ask: "How did you get food?" "How did people go on dates?"

  • What do you make of..,, It can't be too broad of a question, for example: What do you make of climate change? It needs to be narrower: What do you think of people who don't believe in climate change?

6. Fundamental Attribution Error

  • Every conservative has a liberal exception (and vice versa). Ask a person what their exception is.

7. Margin of Safety

  • When you improvise 'go with the rip current for a while, but never lose sight of the shore'. Write your questions down but don't be too rigid. Be ready to answer a follow-up question based on the response.

8. Miss-en-Place

  • Preparation will do 2 things:

    1. Put the person at ease because they know they are in safe hands

    2. Make them more likely to tell the truth.

  • Prepare someone for a tough question by saying:

    1. "I want to ask you about something which is interesting but which is perhaps painful to you..."

    2. "I am sorry if this seems offensive..."

9. Narrative Instinct

  • The structure of an interview should be similar to that of a story arc:

    1. Interesting beginning

    2. Rising and falling

    3. Crisis point

    4. Resolution/conclusion

10. Randomness

  • Juxtaposition questions are based on the game "would you rather..." where you think of 2 unrelated topics. Follow-up by asking: How are they similar/different?


Mental Model Mind Maps

Mind maps can help you to remember the most important parts of a book. Signup to my newsletter below to get a free mindmap of this book:

19 views0 comments


Get Mind Maps of the Mental Models from the Best Books:

Thanks for submitting!

bottom of page