'Talk to Me' Summary
Updated: Jan 18
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:
What first got you interested in.....
If you were a contestant on Jeopardy, what would be your specialist subject?
How would your life have been different if...
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.
Play to people's ego: Tell them why interviewing them provides a unique perspective in understanding the big picture.
'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:
"Don't you remember what it was like getting started in your career?" I could really use your help"
"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".
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.
Preparation will do 2 things:
Put the person at ease because they know they are in safe hands
Make them more likely to tell the truth.
Prepare someone for a tough question by saying:
"I want to ask you about something which is interesting but which is perhaps painful to you..."
"I am sorry if this seems offensive..."
9. Narrative Instinct
The structure of an interview should be similar to that of a story arc:
Rising and falling
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
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