#240: Asking Better Questions with Taylor Buonocore Guthrie

They say an analysis is only as good as the question that was asked, so for our 2024 International Women’s Day Episode, Julie, Moe, and Val were joined by Taylor Buonocore Guthrie to discuss how to ask better questions. Every analyst is naturally curious, but the thoughtfulness that Taylor puts into what type of questions to ask, how to ask them, and when to ask them to get the optimal response is truly an art form. Instead of drilling the five-whys the next time you are gathering context with a business partner for an analysis or conducting discovery interviews, try prompting them with, “Can you walk me through your thinking?” or “What else is important for me to know?” to gather the right context and clarify your understanding. We can’t wait for you to hear all of the practical advice and suggestions for things you might consider incorporating into your repertoire!

Taylor also shared this bonus hand-out on the 4 types of questions that you will benefit from asking more often:

Links to Events, Books, and Articles Mentioned in the Show

Photo by Ana Municio on Unsplash

Episode Transcript


0:00:06.2 Announcer: Welcome to the Analytics Power Hour analytics topics covered conversationally and sometimes with explicit language.

0:00:14.1 Moe Kiss: Hi everyone, welcome. It’s the Analytics Power Hour, and this is episode 240. Now, when I think about the pursuit to be a better analyst, I largely think about the need to listen more and ask better questions. In fact, it’s something I’m a little obsessed with. And as analysts, we all get drummed into us the need to ask open-ended questions. But what if the question is not enough? What if we ask and we’re met with irrelevant information? Don’t forget our time is precious or worse, Stony silence. The topic of the perfect question has long been on my mind. Val, do you think there is a right thing to ask at the right moment or do you just wing it?

0:00:57.3 Val Kroll: I definitely think that there’s an art to it, so I am definitely looking forward to learning from this conversation today.

0:01:02.6 MK: And what about you, Julie? Is asking the ideal question that something that comes easily to mind?

0:01:08.7 Julie Hoyer: No, not at all. I cannot wait. I need the tips and tricks.

0:01:14.5 MK: Well, today is our special International Women’s Day episode, and I’m incredibly excited to bring you an all woman in powerhouse of Val, Julie, myself, and our wonderful guest to discuss today’s topic of effective questions for establishing meaningful conversations. Needless to say, we needed to bring in an expert, Taylor Buonocore Guthrie is our guest today. She has elevated connection and collaboration for more than 400 teams, boards, conferences worldwide, including Meta, Bristol Myers Squibb, FEMA, and the Rockefeller Foundation. And of course, for yours truly. She began her career in consulting with Mercer where she focused on leadership, assessment and organizational development. And she’s also had senior roles at Rio Tinto. And as the president of Born Free Africa, a private equity backed NGO, she now runs her own company, the Connection Spark, which specializes in strengthening communication skills that lead to meaningful conversation and deeper relationships, especially for colleagues and professional teams. And that’s actually how I first came across Taylor was at the wonderful Meta Women in Analytics conference. Welcome Taylor. We’re so excited to have you today.

0:02:27.8 Taylor Buonocore Guthrie: I am very excited and honored to be here, so thank you.

0:02:31.2 MK: Now I wanted to start off… Just getting a little bit of an understanding of what first kind of piqued your interest in this topic of questions.

0:02:41.7 TG: Well, that’s a great question to start with because questions, if we’re really paying attention, play quite a central role in our lives if we’re listening. And I was the very fortunate beneficiary of good questions, particularly when I was in undergraduate and I started to pay attention as I was about to graduate from university. Some of the most important things that people were asking me, for instance, a twist on what do you wanna do after you graduate became what would make you really excited to do after you graduate? Some really simple tweaks on those kind of standard questions began to grab my attention. Another example I had someone say, if you thought about the first 10 years after you graduated from university, and imagine your 10 years down the road and someone says to you, if you had to give that 10 year block of time a score and you rated it a 10 out of 10 or better yet an 11 out of 10, what would you have done over that 10 year period of time?

0:03:47.3 TG: And so I was lucky to be around these people who were asking really thoughtful questions that with very simple changes in the phrases, had me thinking in a much different way. So I became kind of attuned and a student of questions early on. And then as I grew in my career, I just began to practice. And I noticed how when I made certain tweaks, it led to a very different result or a very different type of relationship when I really leaned into practicing that skill. So I guess the short answer is it’s been an evolving practice, but something that once I brought my attention to has become something that has become an art and a passion and an area of study for me all in one.

0:04:26.6 MK: I love that. And I think there is, and I mentioned in the intro like this perception that we always need to ask open questions or there’s a very big difference between opened and closed questions. What’s your take on that?

0:04:39.2 TG: So there’s a big difference between open and closed ended questions. This is something that most of us learn about when we’re young, right? When you’re in primary school, you begin to learn the difference between an open and a closed ended question. And in the spirit of bringing attention to how people ask questions, I would love to tell a story that illustrates this point. If you know me well, you know I lead, in addition to being the professional that you described, I lead these outdoor nature classes with my kids and they’re all season long classes. So we get outdoors all four as they say. And that means that sometimes we’re out in the snow with our kids and the kids are usually toddler age, some kind of up to seven years old. But oftentimes three year olds, four year olds are in this class. And so I’ve taught this class over the course of a series of years, and that means that every winter I’m doing the class with these parents and their kids.

0:05:37.4 TG: So the story goes that we’re outside and the activity that day is to explore snow and ice. And before we’re gonna explore snow and ice, I prime the parents and the caregivers with a big block of ice in my hand. And I say, now listen, here’s what we’re gonna do. In a moment we’re gonna call the kids over and each of you is gonna get this big solid, hard, heavy block of ice. You’re gonna show it to your kids and you’re gonna say, with all the wonder and excitement that you can imagine, what is this? And you’re gonna hold it out to them with your eyes wide, ask them what it is, and then say, touch it. How does it feel? And the parents go, okay, great. Got it. Easy enough, right? What is this? How does it feel? They each take their block of ice and I see them circle up with their kids and there’s usually about 15 people in the field and they all circle up with their kids and I’m walking around listening.

0:06:31.9 TG: And year over year, at least half of the group of parents who have just been primed to ask these open-ended questions get wide-eyed and excited. And they hold the ice out to their kids and they say, look, look, this is ice touch it, doesn’t it feel cold? And they’re smiling and excited and I have all the emotion that I hoped for, but they make one central change. They default from asking an open-ended question to asking a closed-ended question. Now what happens? The kids respond with excitement, right? They touch the ice, they say, oh my gosh, yes, it’s ice feels so cold. But when the parents ask open-ended questions, we get surprised by the answers. So some of the kids say that the ice feels cold, but others say that it feels wet. Others say it feels slippery. Some of them try to pick it up and say that it feels heavy.

0:07:27.8 TG: And there’s a complete transformation in the way the conversation unfolds as a direct result of the question that gets asked. And the most important takeaway for me having seen this year over year, five, six years in a row, is that you can do the priming, but people still will default to their default question. Meaning they can be primed to ask an open-ended question and know how important it is. But when you get wrapped up in the moment or you take your attention and presence away from what you’re saying, you default to something like, look at this, it’s ice touch it, doesn’t it feel cold? Again, nothing terribly wrong with doing that except that we change the nature of the conversation. And this is an example that’s so lighthearted and it’s with parents and kids, but we see this every single day in work context as well. People defaulting to a certain type of communication that maybe isn’t detrimental, but it doesn’t get them actually what they want out of that conversation.

0:08:33.4 MK: I love that story so, so much, but one thing I would love to understand a little bit more from you, Taylor, is how come that’s the default? Like what makes that the default way of asking questions or communicating?

0:08:38.2 TG: That’s a great question. I sort of wanna boomerang that back to all of you. There’s so many things on my mind, right? I think we’re worried about how people perceive our questions in many respects. And so if a parent, for example, in that moment wants their kid to kind of appear in a certain way, we start to lead people with our questions. Lawyers are sort of known for doing this too, right? Asking a leading question. Again, it’s not necessarily detrimental, but we don’t access what we want in that moment. So something else sort of gets the best of us when we default to a closed ended question. But I’m curious, what would you all think? I know you haven’t been in these situations, but when you are asking questions and you find yourself ask something and then in retrospect think, why did I say that right? Or I wish I would’ve said it this way instead. I think everybody has something that gets in their way. So I’m curious what comes up for you.

0:09:34.4 MK: I do wonder if there’s a fear of the unknown when you ask an open question, right? Because especially if you’re intentionally trying to do it. And I’m now thinking like with a stakeholder, if you ask a very wide question, they might take it in a direction that’s either like off topic or like not in your wheelhouse. It could be uncomfortable. Whereas like if you ask quite a tight question, it kind of forces them down a particular path. And I don’t know if that’s something we do subconsciously, but I just feel like maybe fear is part of it.

0:10:08.9 VK: I know for myself, reflecting on this now, I think I sometimes get nervous that I have to qualify why I’m asking the question. So I default to almost caveating my question for why I’m asking it or my thought behind asking it. And then it becomes a really long run on sentence and I can hear myself doing it, but I can’t stop ’cause I’ve gone too far. And then I have to bring it back to the question, and by the end of it, I just sit there and kinda shake my head at myself and I feel worse than if I had just kind of like left it hanging. I do that all the time.

0:10:43.0 MK: Yeah. That time, the discomfort with the pause. Oh my gosh. And then you’re like, whew, I gotta jump back in. Gotta save it. [laughter] can’t let there be a pause.


0:10:52.5 JH: You’re like, pivot, pivot, pivot. Lemme try a different way.


0:10:57.0 TG: We’re also always looking for the response on the other side, right? So if you can read someone’s non-verbal cues, you’re looking to see how that question lands with them. And I mentioned I’m a student of questions, and so one of the areas that I’ve been working on myself over the last couple of years is asking stacked questions. So I find that I’m looking at the nonverbal, I’m really queued into people’s nonverbals. And so I’ll ask a question and I’ll be watching to see how it’s landing with them. And if the slightest thing suggests that I wasn’t clear or they don’t know the answer, right? I noticed a default in myself where I would stack another question, I would ask another question on top of that first one, either a rephrase or a twist, which actually makes it harder for the person to answer my original question, but it becomes one of those, I don’t know if I would call it a defense mechanism, but a default, right? When you are caught up in the moment and you do this thing that actually ends up being less effective. And so it’s about bringing your attention to what those defaults are and beginning to make some micro changes so that you actually get what you want out of the conversation.

0:12:03.9 Michael Helbling: It’s time to step away from the show for a quick word about Piwik Pro. Tim, tell us about it.

0:12:10.8 Tim Wilson: Well, Piwik Pro has really exploded in popularity and keeps adding new functionality.

0:12:16.5 MH: They sure have. They’ve got an easy to use interface, a full set of features with capabilities like custom reports, enhanced e-commerce tracking, and a customer data platform.

0:12:26.2 TW: We love running Piwik Pro’s free plan on the podcast website, but they also have a paid plan that adds scale and some additional features.

0:12:33.3 MH: Yeah, head over to piwik.pro and check them out for yourself. You can get started with their free plan. That’s piwik.pro. And now let’s get back to the show.

0:12:46.0 MK: So that example with you, like stacking another question on what do you do in that moment? Do you just stop yourself? Is that like how you make that micro adjustment?

0:12:56.2 TG: So I do a lot of planning ahead with my questions. I would say I do 50% planning ahead and 50% reading the room. And I think that’s really important when you’re having even a live conversation like this, right? You could script this conversation, but as soon as someone says something that’s interesting or worth pursuing, the script goes out the window. So it’s 50% prep and then 50% being willing to really listen and be able to change and adapt as you’re hearing what someone says. So to prevent myself from stacking questions, one of the ways is to actually write the question I wanna ask and I write it down ahead of time and I give it its own space, right? Its own bullet point. It’s not stacked on the paper. And then I try to be more measured in how I deliver information and remind myself that there’s science that tells us it takes time for the message to travel from someone’s ears into their brain, go through the processing where someone not only understands what you asked them, but then they begin to come up with their own answer and then they verbally formulate their answer and then say it to you, right?

0:14:09.8 TG: So there’s actually a lot of steps that are happening there, which is why the pause that you’re talking about is so important and why it’s so important to only ask one question at a time. And to know that anytime you’re communicating, you have to give a moment for the person on the receiving end to do all that processing, the intake and the output to answer you.


0:14:28.4 MK: And to come off mute and to.


0:14:32.1 MK: That’s not necessarily a reflection on you.

0:14:34.1 TG: And if there’s a delay.

0:14:37.2 MK: Exactly.

0:14:37.8 JH: Right.

0:14:37.9 VK: I know I’ve called this up before, but we had a coworker that Julie and I worked with Merit Aho, who was like the master of the pregnant pause, and I legitimately had a goal in 2021 is get half as comfortable as Merit with the pregnant pause. And I would ask a question sometimes and like literally sit and pinch my hand of like, don’t open your mouth, don’t say anything else just let it hang out there for a second. But yeah, the stacking of the que I’m so guilty of that. Like if you were trying to coach a team to stop doing some of those behaviors, like I imagine you’d have to like zap people when they [laughter] do some of those things when you’re working with them in a room. Like just because there’s so many people and different dynamics at play and like you were saying Julie, like people trying to qualify certain questions or parts of the conversation or why they’re taking it into a certain direction. But how do you get like whole kind of groups of teams or more if you have some experiences, I know that you had mentioned in the intro that you had worked with Taylor. Like how does that work in like the group setting?

0:15:40.1 TG: Well, one of the things that comes up for me, Val, as you’re speaking is you can hold a pause for the person that you’ve directly asked a question to. And I think it’s also really important to hold the space and hold the pause for others who are in the conversation, but maybe we’re not directly posed the question. This is another thing that I’ve learned over time, but facilitating. I facilitate for groups as small as five people in a room all the way up to several hundreds of people, even a thousand people in a room. And so the skillset is very different depending on the size group, but I would say that for most meetings and conversations that the average person is having day to day, there’s oftentimes more than one person present. And so you’re not only holding the pause for the person, you ask the question too, but it’s really important to actually hold on speaking so that whoever else is in the room might be able to chime in.

0:16:33.6 TG: The other thing that really gets in our way when we’re asking questions is thinking about what to say next. I would say this is probably the biggest thing that comes up when I have these conversations, and I do this too. I’m really trying to think about how am I responding to what that person is saying or what question am I asking next? And that counteracts your ability to pause and really listen and create space for everyone in the conversation to participate. It’s really important to know that we all have different processing speeds, that we all have different styles and ways of showing up. And so if you are the type of person who tends to reply after everyone says something, you again are actually going to counteract the ability of the group to participate and contribute. When you do that, it might be one of your defaults, right? You tend to jump in and try to acknowledge everyone and there’s something to be said for that, but also you might actually be taking away space from others who would say something or would contribute.

0:17:31.5 JH: How do you advise people to combat the panic that you just mentioned? That I felt so deeply in my soul [laughter] Yeah, like I feel that all the time when people say, lead a discovery call. I have my list of questions, I want to touch on them, but I want it to be organic. And then they’re answering and I’m thinking, oh God, what’s the next like, most natural segue based on what they said to the next question. Because I only have 30 minutes and I have to get these answered, and then I’m only half listening and sometimes it spirals like we get through it, but by the end of it I’m in a nervous, cold sweat.


0:18:05.7 TG: Yeah. You are not the only one. This has ever happened to Julie. I will say that. [laughter] one of the things I would say is I’ll give you a couple ideas. One of the things I would say is bring in some backup. So be aware of how much you’re taking on yourself and how capable your brain is of dual processing, right? When you are leading the discovery call and you’re capturing all the notes and you’re thinking about what question to ask next, that’s a lot for your brain to take on. And so when it’s possible to have someone pitch in with capturing, or if it’s allowed right to use an AI bot to help you capture some of the notes, it will take some of the processing strain off of your brain so that you can be more fully present in a single role. For example, the role of question asker and listener, an official listener versus the role of note taker.

0:18:57.0 JH: That is such a good point. Actually, one thought too, is it… Do you find that it breaks the magic of the moment with someone you’re having a conversation with, if you acknowledge that you have a list of questions you wanna get through?

0:19:12.5 VK: Good question.

0:19:13.4 TG: Oh, let’s pull that one around the room and then I’ll share.

0:19:18.0 JH: Oh, well, I think if it’s a discovery session, like I think that would be kind of expected. But I think if you, or if you went into like maybe a coaching session with someone that reports to you that you’re like, “Hey, I’ve got some things, some questions for you today.” I don’t know. But I think if you were going into some discussions that might be off-putting, yeah, I need to mull it over.

0:19:43.7 VK: I think it’s a good way to show that you have respect for the time that you’re taking of whoever you’re meeting with, like Julie and I both work on the consulting side. And so I think it’s like in order to make sure we’re using the best use of these 30 minutes or whatever that time space is, is that you’ve been planful. So I like that, although it also is like the other person might think, oh, well, I had some things I wanna bring up, I wonder where that’s going to fit into this discussion, which might put some anxiety on them. So that’s a good. I’m very interested to hear your thoughts on this.


0:20:16.9 TG: Yeah, well, I use lists of questions. So I’m a big proponent of this and I also will say, I very much go off the cuff. And I… Some people might say I wing it, I call it reading the room, like I read the room and then I adjust based on what I’m feeling and seeing and observing is happening in the room. But I typically am prepping questions and when I am smart enough, I actually send those questions ahead of time.

0:20:42.7 JH: Ah.

0:20:43.0 TG: Again, to be brain friendly, because it gives the other person a moment to think about what they wanna say and what’s most relevant. And not everyone preps with that question list, but for many people, they really appreciate the opportunity to have a moment to think before you have the conversation. I also think that there’s something to be said for using the time wisely, right? We have an hour together and I wanna make the best use of this time. I would say I also have as many conversations that are 15 minutes long, and in those, I say, “I’ve got three questions to ask you.” And there’s something about that rule of three, right? But that I’ve got three questions to ask you in the next 15 minutes, that’s the priority for us to get through. It’s another version of that I’ve done the pre-thinking, I’ve really been strategic about how we’re gonna spend this time. There’s three questions, there’s 10 questions, whatever it is, saying the number almost cues people to have them feel like you’ve really, you’ve got this covered, right? You’re in control, you’re gonna help guide them, you’re gonna help direct them and they can trust that you’ve got the lead.

0:21:50.0 VK: So I really, really wanna get to talking about different types of questions. So when I heard Taylor speak at the conference that I was at, it honestly just blew my mind because she shared with us her lists of the different types of questions that you can ask. And I’m not gonna lie, I like shamelessly took her questions, put them into account of the Doc, and it is now my screensaver. So whenever I’m in like a one on one, and my computer goes into screensaver mode, I’ve got like the list of questions up, which I did also share with Taylor. So I’ve like blatantly adopted all of her work. But yeah, Taylor, I would love like if we were able to touch on like different types of questions and some examples for our listeners, ’cause I feel like that would be really amazing practical advice for them.

0:22:39.0 TG: Yeah, absolutely. So I think of question types in two ways. There are the questions that open the conversation, right? They’re like lighting a match, they get the things started. And then there are the questions that are like fuel on the fire, they turn the conversation from being relatively surface level, right? The opener, you’ve just nudged open the door, to instead letting you walk through that door with somebody else or really get the fire going, you choose your metaphor here, I’ve got like 10 more where those two come from. But that’s really how I think of it. It’s like opening the door and then really going through it and going for a walk with somebody to have a deep conversation. So two of the types of questions that I really love for opening the door, one of them is called a consent question, some people call these permission questions, others call them consent questions. And they are what they sound like, you’re getting someone’s buy in. So a great example of this would be, let’s say you wanna meet with someone on your team to have a very specific dialogue about a particular topic, you might say something like, “Hey, can we set up 15 minutes to talk about and fill in the blank? Hey, can we set up 15 minutes to review that report that you sent?”

0:23:50.0 TG: “Hey, can we set up 15 minutes to talk about prepping for the discovery call?” You can use anything in that blank, but the idea is that you’re getting somebody’s buy in to set up the time. These also get very useful when the situations get a little bit more complex, right? So let’s say that you’re about to talk about something that may have some sensitivity to it. It could be a conflict or a disagreement, it could be related to something personal that you’d like to ask this person and you’re not really sure if it’s okay, right? You might use a consent question here as well, saying something like, “Would it be okay if I ask you about?” And that invites the person to do a couple things. One, they can make a choice, they have the opportunity to say yes, or say no, they can set a boundary or they can invite you in. And then if you’ve been invited in, you know that you’re both proceeding with the same level of buy in and interest in having the conversation. The other thing this is really useful for is feedback. So sometimes people come to us and they wanna show us something that they’ve worked on or an idea, right? And I once had a participant in a workshop say to me, I like to ask someone, “Would you like advice? Or would you like me to listen?”

0:25:04.7 TG: That is also a consent question, because you’re asking that person what they want in this moment. And similarly with feedback, you might say, “Hey, would it be okay if I give you some feedback about this?” That’s actually priming the person to be on the receiving end of feedback so that their brain doesn’t freak out and say,” Oh, my gosh, catastrophe incoming.” Now they’ve told you, yes, this is a good time or yes, I’m open to it, or frankly, no, I’m not open to it, right? Maybe this project is due tomorrow, I’m sending this email, I don’t want the feedback right now. And some people might say that. So these questions are really useful for getting buy in and they give someone the opportunity to choose and invite you into the conversation.

0:25:47.0 MK: Out of curiosity, I’m thinking of that exact example of like, would it be okay if I shared some feedback? I, and this is what I’m talking about fear, right? So you’ve prepped to have a feedback conversation with someone, you know it’s gonna be tough, feedback conversations can be really hard. And so you have built it up and you’re ready to go and then they say no, which is by asking the question, you’re giving them permission to say no, versus being like, I’d like to share some feedback now. I have kind of like a game plan of how I’d handle it in my mind, but what would you do in that situation?

0:26:23.6 TG: If someone declines receiving feedback? So I think it depends on a host of factors. I think if you are a team leader and this person’s your direct report, this might speak to the culture of the team and/or that person and how they feel about receiving feedback generally, or how they feel about receiving feedback in this moment, or how they feel about receiving feedback from you. Most of the organizations that I work with, highly value feedback, right? It’s actually really important, especially real time feedback. That’s how we grow and improve and like land the plane in the best possible spot is because we’re inviting feedback real time. So I would say if someone declines receiving it all together, I would open another question driven dialogue with them about where that comes from. And there’s other types of questions that we can cover, maybe we’ll loop back to this particular scenario. The other thing that you might hear, though, is saying, Hey, do you have 15 minutes now to talk about this thing? And if someone declines in that moment, I would actually say that is a huge win, unless there’s urgency with giving them that feedback, somebody being honest with you and saying, actually, it’s not a good time, right? I’m about to jump on a phone call.

0:27:39.0 TG: Or I’m about to end work for the day, we’re in a different time zone and it’s actually 6:00 PM for me, I’ve gotta sign off right now. That’s actually a great sign of a strong relationship that the person feels that they can be honest and candid with you. And it means that when you do connect, it’s gonna be a good time, they’re going to be in the position where they can receive what it is that you have to offer.

0:28:01.6 VK: I like that.

0:28:02.7 TG: So those are consent questions. The next type of question that is interesting to explore for opening a conversation, I call continuum questions, because the answers exist along a continuum. So a continuum question often looks like this, on a scale of one to 10, where one equals and 10 equals, or on a scale of low to high, on a scale of, I’m super excited about this to I would rather be dead than go to this thing. Whatever the scale looks like, you can make it up, which actually gives you the opportunity to be quite playful. And I’ve seen many people use crazy benchmarks for the high and a low end of the scale. You get somebody to open the door for a conversation that has more depth than it ordinarily might. So let me illustrate that with a question that we ask all the time. How are you? What do we typically hear with? How are you? This is where I…

0:29:02.0 VK: I’m good.

0:29:02.7 JH: Great.

0:29:03.7 VK: Good.

0:29:04.0 TG: I’m good. Yeah, I’m fine. I’m okay, I’m okay. Even when it’s not good, right? It’s like, I’m alright. How much information is that really getting us? None. How much connection is that offering us? Almost none, right? I would even say it’s like negative connection that comes out of that question. So what’s the fix for that? A continuum question is perfect for this moment. So you say, Hey, on a scale of one to 10, where one is like the worst day ever, I would never wanna repeat this day, and 10 is the best possible day, I won a million dollars, I’m taking a big trip somewhere beautiful and all my wildest dreams are coming true. Great. Where are you on the scale of one to 10 for today? Now, most people are not going to say one, and they’re not going to say 10, but they’re also not going to say five, which is the fine, alright, okay. They’re gonna give you something probably between a two and a four, or a six and a nine. And therein lies your opportunity, once they give you the number, whatever it is, you get to ask a second question to understand more about that number. The second questions are the ones that let us really stoke the fire, right? And like go for the walk with the person, but the continuum question opens the door for the second question.

0:30:20.7 TG: If we just ask how are you, I’m okay, it feels more awkward and harder to be like, “Oh, tell me more about that.” Right? It’s like, okay, now this just feels like an awkward conversation, where if you’re saying, okay, you’re a four, you can make a joke about how it’s not a dumpster fire, but it’s not a great day, like tell me tell me more about it. And again, there leaves room for playfulness, it doesn’t have to be playful, but you can add some more personality into the conversation when you use these questions. So you can use them with how was your day, you might also use them in the work context to understand someone’s skill level, or their comfort with something, or their understanding of a topic, right? You can imagine someone saying, Hey, on a scale of one to 10, where one is low and 10 is high, how comfortable are you feeling with this change that we’re gonna make with the process? On a scale of one to 10, where one is low and 10 is high, how would you rate your current skill level in creating a database with fill in the blank tool, technology tool, right? So it’s a really valuable way rather than saying to someone, “All good, right? Do you understand how it works? You feeling okay about this?” Where what’s everyone’s default? They’re gonna be like, “Yep, I think I’m okay.”

0:31:36.7 MK: Oh, my gosh.

0:31:36.8 JH: Especially who are more junior in an organization.

0:31:39.6 JH: I… Oh my gosh, I probably did this three times today. And now I’m like, kicking myself because if I had… Yes, because I always try to check in and ask, how are you feeling about what we just discussed? But to your point, it kind of does like, there’s a small window of what they would answer, when instead I am really trying to check in on a scale of one to 10, like, do you feel like you’re completely going to fail at this? I have not set you up for success, or do you feel like you could knock this out of the park tomorrow?

0:32:08.0 TG: Yeah. So Julie, let’s imagine someone comes back and they do give you a five and they’re like, “I think I’m a five, right? I’m not… I don’t feel like I’m gonna fail, but I’ve got some room to grow.” Ask them this question next. What would help bump up your score by one or two points?

0:32:23.0 VK: Oh.

0:32:23.7 JH: I’m gonna write it down.

0:32:24.7 TG: Right. So now is continuum questions also, create a gap. So nobody is saying like, I’m perfect, it’s great, there’s no room for improvement. You’re inherently driving somebody to create a gap, which helps you have more of a conversation with them, because they’re usually not gonna say they’re a one or a 10.

0:32:45.0 JH: So one of the things that has really been top of mind for me, or that I’ve really been practicing, Taylor, since I heard you speak. I think that energy or mental health is like one of those topics that when you’re a people manager, it can be really hard to ask about. And I love how you use continuum questions, particularly with mental health. So do you wanna just talk us through that a little bit?

0:33:09.8 TG: Yeah. So as we think about asking about energy or mental health, or even someone’s day, let’s use how was your day for an example. Typically, you get a one word response, right? It was either good, or it was okay, or it was fine and that’s not very helpful when you’re actually genuinely curious about how someone is doing. And so a continuum question where you say on a scale of one to 10, right? How are you feeling today, where one is not great and 10 is the best that I could possibly feel? Someone’s gonna give you that indicator number and then you can ask a second question about it. So even using a topic like mental health, which can be quite confronting to say, how’s your mental health today? A lot of people will be taken off guard by that question, a lot of us would feel uncomfortable asking that question. But if we use a continuum question and we add a little bit of context, even a few words, like, Hey, I’m really curious, I’ve been doing these check ins with everybody in my personal life, and even my colleagues. I’m curious for you on a scale of one to 10, where one is maybe not so great and 10 is excellent, how are you feeling about your mental health?

0:34:22.7 TG: It’s easier for someone to answer that with their one number and then you can ask a follow up question about that number. And you might even use a question that’s a consent question to ask them if it’s okay to ask them about their five, right? Or to ask them about their three, to ask them about their eight. Some people will feel more comfortable sharing than others will, but you at least open the door to that conversation. And sharing a number is a lot easier than sharing all of what’s going on.

0:34:54.6 MK: It’s so funny, though, Taylor, you really are the queen of questions, because every time you give a continuum example, you’ve got like the scale right in there nailed. And I actually did ask this recently, and someone was like, “Sorry, Moe, what’s the one and what’s the 10?” And I was like, “Oh, key component that completely evaded me. So I’m sorry, one is this and 10 is this.” So yes, so including the scale is quite important.

0:35:19.8 TG: Yeah, it is. And you can… That’s an opportunity where you can be playful with the scale also, this doesn’t work with the mental health question. But I’ve said to people before, on where one is like, I absolutely hate the taste of cilantro or guacamole or whatever, right? And 10 is like, more guac, more guac, where are you on the scale of one to 10. And so there’s ways to be playful and use inside jokes that you have with your colleagues or with your team, with products or snacks that are in the company kitchen, right? You can use these kinds of things to make it feel more lighthearted, depending on the type of question that you’re asking.

0:35:57.8 JH: Okay, I love that a lot. ‘Cause I was thinking about how this section of questions, when you first started talking about it, Taylor, I was like, this feels like it would be so hard for me to adopt. ‘Cause it feels so far apart from something I’m doing today, but you talking about adding the context on the scale points, I’m like, okay, this might be the way that I can make this my own or like try this on. But the thought of introducing it, I have to admit I’m a little uncomfortable by it, but I think that that’s what’s gonna make it something I can try on. So I like what you get out of it.


0:36:29.8 VK: I actually had this makes me think of just the other day, I can’t believe I didn’t think of this earlier. I had a co worker say, and we are all on camera and she said, “On a scale of thumbs down to thumbs up, like would that work? Or do you think that’s like too hard?” But she was just looking for physically show like within the range up or down, and you got no one with a perfect sideways, like kind of like the five. But that’s funny, I didn’t realize she was doing that until just now you’re talking about customize the scale.

0:36:58.7 TG: Yeah, so that’s a strategic choice that that person is making. First of all, they have a visual indicator with the thumb. I would also imagine that it was a pulse check type question, meaning there wasn’t necessarily going to be a follow up, it was just a way to gauge the pulse of the room really quickly. So I’ve also seen people do on a fist to five, where your fist is closed.

0:37:20.7 JH: Oh.

0:37:20.8 TG: And that’s a zero, your five is your full palm, where all five fingers are out, you can quickly see in the room where people fall on that scale. And the thumb also, you also point out it’s unlikely that everybody’s gonna give a thumbs up. And so these continuum questions are really valuable for creating a gap. Even with something like mental health, most people are not going to say every single day that they are a 10 out of 10. And so you’re creating a gap there where then you can inquire about the gap. And that inquiry is really powerful. That’s what this is all about.

0:37:57.8 MK: Okay. We’ve got to talk about the next two sections of questions because that is where I started to get really excited, probably because I’m a naturally inquisitive person and I love delving deeper and I feel like the next sections of questions let us do that.

0:38:14.0 TG: The next two help you go deeper. They are what I call second questions. If the continuum question and the consent question, open the door to the conversation. These two types let you walk through the door with somebody else and take a walk down the street. Or take a walk through the forest and explore with them. The first is called a context question. These are categories that I’ve made up. But it’s about context. And so these questions are particularly useful I think, when you experience a strong reaction to something that someone has said that may or may not be positive. Let’s imagine that someone has shared an idea with you about what they wanna do with you this weekend or some strategic plan that they wanna unroll at work. These questions, if you’re immediately feeling that no, using this question allows you to learn more or inquire about where this idea came from.

0:39:15.0 TG: What is the context behind this? What purpose does this thing serve? Why is this person particularly interested in this thing or in this plan or in this topic? Specifically, the questions sound like this. Let’s imagine that somebody has presented a brand new idea and it feels a little bit incomplete to you. Maybe your gut instinct is no, that’s not gonna work. You can ask them this very strategic closed ended question, which is also a consent question. Can you walk me through your thinking? But the key there is that you’re asking about context, walk me through your thinking. Walk me through your thought process, how you came up with this, what it was that influenced your idea. And in hearing that you may hear a nugget of knowledge or wisdom or information that makes you think differently. And challenges your initial reaction of, no, this is not gonna work.

0:40:08.3 TG: Or no, I don’t wanna do that. Or no, this is a bad idea. Another example is asking where the idea originated or what the catalyst was for someone. For example, somebody tells you that 10 years ago, they moved to Europe. Great context question there is, whoa, what was the catalyst for your move? It’s different than saying, why did you move to London? It feels a little bit more elevated to ask about the catalyst and it’s more expansive in what someone might say. Another example is how somebody first learned about a particular topic. This is great to better connect with your colleagues at work. How did you first learn about analytics work at the women in analytics conference? There were a lot of women there who work in a field where women are typically underrepresented. It’s like, who was it? Or how did you first come to learn about this field and become interested? All of these are context questions that help you understand the catalyst, the origins, the history that brought us to this point.

0:41:15.8 MK: And it’s funny, as you talk through these questions, it makes me think of that Christopher Vos book Never Split the Difference, because it really is about coming to like a shared understanding or like developing, sharing context. And I can think of an example that happened in the last couple weeks where an analyst did a piece of work, to be frank, they’ve misinterpreted the results and then they’ve shared them. Now we’re gonna have to have a conversation with that analyst and straight away I am like, versus, why did you do it this way? Which is quite antagonistic. Or being like, can you walk me through your thinking? Or, how did this idea originate? It honestly, it feels like you’re on the same team. You’re trying to find like consensus or commonality. Yeah. Is, do you think it’s just the changing of the why or I don’t know, it’s really interesting.

0:42:05.5 TG: Why we know spikes the cortisol when we hear that word. And so why is a very sensitive word to use? But it’s more about the openness. People are immediately put on the defensive when they hear why. And when you say, walk me through your thinking, implicit in that is like, I know you thought about this. You had your own approach that you brought to this situation and that may or may not have been the right one or the one that I was hoping that you would take, but I at least respect that you put your own thought into it. And I’m curious what it was that shaped, how you approached this. If you’re about to give feedback, it also puts you on a more respectful conversational level to say, Hey, walk me through your thinking. And then you can say, okay, here’s, are you curious to hear how I was thinking about it? Can I share with you how I would approach this?

0:43:02.1 MK: I like that. Yeah. That is so good. I never realized how hard it is to hear why until when you said that. And I put myself in that person’s shoes and could feel how defensive it can make you immediately. And it’s such a small word and I never thought of that, but that is a really good point to walk into hard conversations and realize you shouldn’t just ask why. And you know, what that makes me think of is how we’ve talked about this in past shows. A lot of analysts are taught to ask why, but not with the context of like, don’t just say why or.

0:43:35.7 MK: Yeah.

0:43:35.8 MK: Why do you want that? ‘Cause that is the worst thing to ask. I’m trying to think of now better context questions for analysts in those conversations to get deeper knowledge, from their stakeholders.

0:43:48.6 VK: Yeah.

0:43:48.6 JH: And it’s funny when you look through the questions that Taylor recommends or you listen back to the show, there is not a single question that starts with why. And I’ve only realized that myself.

0:44:00.4 TG: Why is very triggering for a lot of people. And I would include myself in that group when I used to work in consulting and someone would ask me why I did something, I immediately would feel that it was wrong.

0:44:13.9 JH: Yes.

0:44:15.2 TG: We associate the why with I must have made a mistake here. And for people who are high achievers or really data-driven, there’s gonna be a high desire to explain away or explain whatever it was that was going on. And so this just orients the conversation to more of an equal playing field, discussion about the context versus a justification for whatever it was that you did. Yeah.

0:44:41.6 JH: Why is a lot of baggage [laughter] I am curious, so we’re talking a lot about synchronous question asking and responding, but how much of this wisdom can you take to asynchronous? One of the ways that analysts engage a lot of times with the stakeholders, some of, sometimes there’s an intake form if you will, or sometimes it’s an email communication saying, here’s what I need. And so then a lot of times there’s secondary conversations that have to happen off the back of that. But is there something different that could happen in written communication to dig into some of this or to show that there’s a genuine interest in understanding or to really be on the same team? Kinda like you were saying Moe?

0:45:22.3 TG: This is a great question and I’ll tell you, I’m gonna think on the fly because so often the conversation is about a synchronous conversation. What I would say is the benefit of written communication is that you have the chance to think through what you say before you say it, which means that if I think of the times that I’ve written up a list of questions, I can pressure test them with myself a bit. Write the questions, give them a little bit of breathing room and then come back and try to answer them yourself and see how clear that question actually feels when you’ve had a little bit of distance from it. Particularly if you’re developing an intake questionnaire that you’re using repeatedly. It’s a great chance to iterate based on what you see. The response is, many people have said that a good question begets a good answer.

0:46:12.2 TG: When you’re not getting what you want from the responses, maybe not enough detail, not enough depth, it’s usually a reflection of the question that you’re asking more than it is the person who’s answering it. And so I would say when you get to develop an intake form, it’s an amazing opportunity to see what you get back and actually iterate on it over time. The second thing I would say is I try to vary the types of questions that I use. We’re talking about four types of questions here using a consent question, which I think is admittedly a little more for synchronous communication or to tee up a synchronous conversation, can we set aside five minutes to talk about this, but a context question, a clarification question which we will get to these can be used in an intake form or in a list of questions that guide a conversation.

0:47:04.0 TG: The key is to make sure that they’re varied enough in how you’re asking. For instance, you might use a scaling question, you might use a context question, you might use a clarification question that actually has multiple choice answers, meaning you are seeding some of the answers that someone might give you. The other thing that I often am doing is assigning percentage weightings to different options. And what that looks like is saying, okay, you’ve named these three things as your priorities. If you were to assign a percentage of an importance to each one, what number would you assign to each one? And that takes the conversation deeper and it helps me understand what really is the priority here? What are we really trying to speak to with this data? What story are we trying to tell? What’s the message that needs to come out?

0:47:56.1 TG: What’s the order of priority for this maybe big project that I’m taking on? When you invite people to assign a percentage waiting, typically you’re going to see the scale tip in one direction or another. The same way that people rarely give you a five when you ask them for a scale of one to 10, rarely are you going to get a 50-50 waiting on two competing priorities, for example. And those are all things that can easily be answered over email. It’s very easy to assign numbers quickly to three different areas or choose from a list of multiple choice options in an intake form. Whereas writing a lengthy answer, a lengthy response, you wanna use those types of questions for synchronous communication where it’s oftentimes easier for people to just talk it out.

0:48:44.8 JH: Yeah, totally. Because a lot of times, especially [laughter] those intake forms, the richest information is the anything else you’d like to add bubble. And that’s when people are like. And write everything [laughter], which is a good signal. To your point, Taylor, maybe we should make some edits to the form, yeah, no, that’s, I love that. So thank you.

0:49:03.2 TG: Yeah. A twist on the anything else that you wanna share, if you find, for example, you work with the same group over and over and you have paragraphs and paragraphs to read, what you can say is, what are two of the most important things to know that we didn’t ask about yet? This is gonna force someone to prioritize what it is that they wanna share with you. And it’s friendly pressure that you apply where now they feel like I better pick the best stuff to share in this anything else bucket?

0:49:32.1 VK: That is so good.

0:49:32.1 MK: So good.

0:49:32.9 JH: I love that Val is taking notes. I’m like, this is brilliant. And we haven’t even gotten onto clarification questions, which are actually my personal favorite.

0:49:43.6 VK: Sorry, I probably cut us off. [laughter]

0:49:45.8 TG: No, we’ve just dipped our toes in the water and there’s a metaphor related to water that I like to use for this one. And it’s the iceberg. Usually what people are answering you when you ask the very first question is what you see above the surface. It’s the piece of the iceberg that’s sticking above the water, which we all know represents a very small fraction of what actually lies below the surface. And the below the surface information is actually what you want. At the end of the day, information is probably our most powerful commodity. If you are a data analyst, that information is what allows you to actually produce the right analysis or collect the right info. But unless you actually get the information upfront, it’s gonna be tough for you to do your job.

0:50:32.9 TG: Same thing when it comes to relationship building. We share a fraction of what there is to know. And so what lies below the surface is really where the heart of a relationship is. And the only way to access all of that is to be asking good questions. And so a clarification question I say lets you go below the surface, meaning you’ve already gotten an answer from someone and now you’re going to actually deep dive or probe on what that means or say things like, tell me more. What do you mean by that? You said a word that maybe feels vague to me or I just have this intuition there’s, something else there to know saying, would you be willing to share a little bit more with me about that? Notice this is also a consent question because the person has choice, but ultimately you’re learning more about what’s below the surface. I also like to use these words, I’m curious with a question like why here? I’m curious, why do you think that is? This is very much going below the surface to hear someone’s point of view. It’s using the word why, but in a way that feels much more gentle and like it’s a conversation between you and me versus why did it happen like that? It’s a conversation that’s beyond us. It’s not a direct result of an action that one of us took. I’m curious, why do you think that is?

0:51:56.7 VK: It’s funny, the tell me could you tell me more about that? I actually say that all the time, but I never say it as a question. I always, I think I say tell me more about that. And, I love combining it with the consent piece because then the person’s getting choice. And so like already in my head I’m like, alright, I need to make these little tweaks to the things that I say.

0:52:21.8 TG: Yeah, these are the things like when people say ask why three times or use the question, what else? Or say, tell me more. It’s a very nuanced switch. But I do think that the choice is really powerful when you ask someone, would you be willing to tell me more or would you be willing to share why you think that is?

0:52:41.3 VK: And thinking of the ask why three times, but it’s a nuance thing and all the ways you automatically are able to riff on that and it’s very organic and nice. I was wondering, do you have any advice for when you have a brain freeze in the middle of a conversation like that? [laughter] You know you have to dig deeper, you’re trying to intake a lot of information. Maybe the conversation went a different direction than you were prepared, but you have your list of questions. What are some of the tips and tricks you have when you suddenly hit that roadblock?


0:53:10.9 TG: That’s a great question. This is why the list is so helpful ahead of time. This is why I always have a list prepared when I’m about to talk to someone. I also think just the humanity of pausing is very powerful. I have learned over time to embrace the moments where I feel like I don’t know and I need a moment to think. I do a lot of phone calls on my own. And so, having that extra person there as a note taker or someone that you can chat on the side is a beautiful thing. And when I have that, I’m so grateful and I don’t always have that. And so I have to lean into to naming the fact that I’m gonna take a moment to regroup. I’m gonna take, let’s take a 32nd pause. I just wanna be really thoughtful about the question that I ask next.

0:54:01.3 TG: Even saying something like that keeps you very much in control. It makes it look like a strategic choice to pause. You’re buying yourself a little bit of time to scroll through your notes or figure out what you wanna say. So that’s one strategy. It’s very confidently and, in an approachable way, say, let’s take a 60 second pause. We’ve covered so much ground. I wanna make sure that in the last 10 minutes of this conversation I ask you the questions that I really need to know. Is it okay if we take a 60 second pause? I guarantee everybody is gonna say, that person sounds like they are in control. They have done this before? And they’re about to ask me a good question. And so, okay, now let’s say you take the pause and you totally come up empty [laughter] And you’re like.


0:54:48.8 TG: I just promised this person, that I was gonna ask something great based on all the discussion we’ve had so far and I’m coming up empty. My personal style is to say, you know what? I feel like we’ve covered a lot. I actually am curious to turn it around to you. What do you feel like I haven’t asked you? Which is essentially.

0:55:08.4 VK: That is genius. That is genius.


0:55:12.2 TG: It’s essentially my cover for, I didn’t come up with something and we know that this works. Because value, were saying that anything else bucket gives you a whole bunch of information. I would say that’s my two part strategy. Pause and see what you really wanna know about in that moment. And then, second of all, offer that person to jump in with something and they might say, no, we’ve covered, you did a great job, we’ve covered it all. Or they might say, how much time do you have? I’ve got 40 more things I need to tell you.


0:55:45.1 VK: I like how you worded it though of is there anything you think I should be asking you instead of, do you have any questions for me? Because I think that’s also a default people would go to and that’s the direction I thought you were gonna go so when you flipped it of what you think I should be asking you, I was mind blown and I love that.

0:56:03.4 TG: Yeah.

0:56:05.0 TG: Okay, I’m gonna do the typical Moe thing and because technically I’m like hosting this session, I get to like choose when we stop. But I have been known in past episodes for like right as we’re running out of time to be like, let’s open a can of worms. I’m gonna do that exactly now because I really want to.

0:56:24.7 MK: On brand.

0:56:24.8 TG: Yeah.


0:56:25.8 JH: But stick to my personal brand. A lot of what we’ve been talking about today is about eliciting information, and particularly like from a stakeholder or someone in your team, trying to get something back from them and big shock because Moe works in people management wants to know more about the coaching side of things. And I feel like sometimes you do need to take a different approach when you’re coaching a person versus when you are. Yeah. You’re trying to get information out of them. Really curious, is there like a different tact that you would take there, or is there any advice you could help us with?

0:57:04.3 TG: Yeah, well, why don’t I tell you a story? So, I mentioned I’ve been a consultant in the past, which often requires that you manage up and you get other people to do things that you need them to do. And this story is from a relatively high-stakes time. It was from the COVID lockdown here in the US. I was supporting the largest city in my state, their COVID response, and I was working with the Department of Health leadership, which understandably was completely overwhelmed at this time, just like everybody in every department health and in the medical field was. And my job was to really bolster the resources… The human resources of the department. And there was a lot of time pressure and a lot of unknowns, and so there was this moment where we had to figure out what the next step was going to be. And the context here actually doesn’t matter. It’s just that we were under a high pressure, we needed action, and we had to figure out what the next step would be.

0:58:01.2 TG: And I had a pretty clear picture of what I thought the next step should be. I’m a trained consultant. I’ve always been oriented towards action, and so for me, it was like, “Duh,” right? “This is the next step that we have to do.” But in the role that I was in, I was a consultant. I didn’t work for the department. I was really meant to be there to be a backup resource, which means that I’ve got to build a lot of trust and influence from behind. And so in that moment, just blurting out what I thought the next step needed to be, probably wasn’t actually going to be that effective. And so it was this high-pressure situation, and as much as I wanted to say, “Hey, how about we” and fill in the blank with the action, something came over me probably from all these hours about talking about questions, and I heard myself, it was like an out-of-body experience, I heard myself say, “What’s your instinct on what to do?” to the person who was leading the department who, in that moment, truly was looking overwhelmed and like they needed some help.

0:59:03.5 TG: But I said, “What’s your instinct? What should we do?” And lo and behold, their response was exactly what I would have said the next step should be, almost word for word, right? He was like, “We need to get on the phone with the mayor’s office tonight.” And I’m like, “Bingo, exactly. That’s what we need to do.” Now, I had arm’s length, so it was a lot easier for me to come up with the answer. He was feeling overwhelmed, understandably so. But a question like, “What’s your instinct on what to do” which is a coaching-style question, it’s what I call an empowerment question, created just enough space for him to think about it and have an answer and show up as the leader in that moment, which had become challenging for this person to do, given everything that was going on. And so, for me, it really made me pause. One, because it truly was like an unconscious question that I asked, which showed me that the more you practice this mindset, the more it’s almost like your brain and body sync up, and the question comes even when you aren’t consciously thinking of it.

1:00:07.6 TG: And second of all, it was a major trust-building moment for us. Rather than me just directing the group with what to do, I actually got to set him up to look successful, and we did what I thought we should have done in the first place. So it was a win-win, kind of all around, and it just shows the power of questions for driving action, even when it’s an open-ended question. And I really have loved that word “instinct” ever since, because it pulls people out of some of the thinking that we do, and we get over… We overthink things, right? And so asking like, “Hey, what’s your instinct on what to do?” It just allows somebody to show up in a way where they can kind of name what they really think in that moment without all the pressure of having to back it up with various decisions. So it works not in every situation, of course, but I do think “What’s your instinct on what to do?” is one of those questions that I really keep in my back pocket now.

1:01:06.7 JH: That’s so good, ’cause it’s like we’re not always going to be able to have a piece of quantitative data to point to that says, “This is what we have to do.” The answers don’t just materialise [laughter] in the data, and I think sometimes we undervalue the intuition that we build as we look at different data points and are working on similar sets of problems with clients and things like that. So I love tapping into that good one on that intuition.

1:01:33.8 TG: Yeah. I’ll give you one more twist on that, right? If intuition feels too woo-woo for you if you’re listening, which it will for some people, you can also say, “What are the two or three options that you’re considering for what to do?”

1:01:49.9 JH: Ooh.

1:01:50.5 TG: And that does feel a little bit more grounded for some people. You can say, “What are the two things that you are playing within your mind with what to do?” Or, “What are the two actions you would consider taking?” And it’s a very similar vibe question. You’re allowing that other person to actually guide and lead the way, but you are opening the door for them to do that.

1:02:09.7 JH: I feel like… This is killing me ’cause I feel like I could spend like another five hours sitting with you all talking about this topic. I have honestly… And Taylor, that is such an incredibly powerful spot to end. I think, yeah, I’m just going to be churning over all of your advice over the coming weeks and months. But before we wrap, I did just want to go around and see if you all have a last call to share. So Taylor, you’re our guest. Why don’t we start with you?

1:02:37.6 TG: Okay, I love this question so much. I learned about something crazy that our brains do at night while we are sleeping, and this has stuck with me, and it’s like my last call for all last calls that I always share. So if you’ve ever woken up feeling foggy in your brain, like a little bit cloudy, it’s because when you sleep at night, research shows that your brain actually contracts to squeeze out toxins out of itself. And so when you don’t get a great night’s sleep… I know, I’m going to blow everybody’s world open with this. [laughter] When you don’t get a great night’s sleep, it’s because you were not able to squeeze and shrink all of the toxins out of your brain, and that’s what they say leads to a lot of that foggy feeling. And so ever since I learned this, I prioritize my sleep more than I ever have. And for people who really put a lot into their days and put a lot into their work, being mentally sharp is so important. And so allowing yourself a good night’s sleep, which is actually your brain squeezing out all the junk from the day, is super important. So get your sleep.

1:03:46.6 VK: Oh, I love that.

1:03:49.1 JH: I’m internally crying now [laughter] ’cause I know I don’t get enough ’cause I’m waking up multiple times a night right now. We’re in that phase of life.

1:03:54.9 VK: Yeah, the postpartum depletion.

1:03:57.2 JH: I’m like, “Is my brain able to squeeze out all the toxins?”

1:04:00.4 TG: Your time will come, Julie. Don’t worry.

1:04:02.6 JH: I’ll be back at it.

1:04:03.0 TG: I’ve also walked this road. Yeah.

1:04:05.3 MK: Okay, Julie, what about you?

1:04:08.1 JH: Well, it’s kind of funny. This pairs nicely with sleep because mine’s about coffee. So that’s my first way to combat my fogginess [laughter] in the morning after a long night. But crazy thing is, I stumbled upon a study about coffee and COVID. And they studied how… They did a bunch of different, big distributors, I think, of ground coffee. And so they were from all over the world. And they had a great large sample. And they looked at instant coffee, normal ground coffee, and even decaf coffee. And they found that one to two cups a day, there’s something in it not tied to caffeine that helps inhibit the COVID virus and a lot of variants from being able to actually infect your cells. Yes.

1:04:52.7 VK: Whoa. So I can drink more coffee?

1:04:54.7 JH: I know. I was like, “So coffee’s a good thing that I drink at least two cups a day.” [laughter] But I thought it was the coolest thing. And it’s been like my fun fact that I’ve been telling everyone. It’s a little bit embarrassing ’cause I think a couple of friends have heard it more than once now. And they’re like, “Julie, you really gotta drop it.” But I think it’s amazing.


1:05:13.2 VK: Come up with a new trick, Julie.

1:05:17.1 JH: Yeah, pretty much.


1:05:17.2 VK: You just need to get more sleep so that you are more sharp with your…


1:05:21.0 MK: And over to you, Val.

1:05:24.5 VK: So since it is our International Women’s Day episode, I haven’t finished, but I’m far enough along that this is a promising recommendation that I’ve been reading last year.

1:05:35.8 JH: Whoa. How good is it?

1:05:37.8 VK: It came out the end of last year. So good.

1:05:37.8 JH: So good.

1:05:40.2 VK: So good. So I was originally really excited to read it because I’d read a lot about how this is like one of the first CEO profiles, like female CEO profiles that’s really been written up. And if you know anything about the Glossier story, it’s like a lot of sensational stories about things that happened in the later years. But I really enjoyed the whole profile, back to the beginning. Like, “Tell me about Emily Weiss, early days.” That type of thing. So it’s really well written, and it has like tons of stories and anecdotes from people that have been involved in her life. So 10 out of 10 recommends. Really good book, so.

1:06:12.0 MK: I have to confess, I also loved it. But one of the bits that really blew my mind is there’s a particular section where they go through founders. And some of the things that “female founders” have kind of gotten taken down for versus, what some of their male counterparts have done and are still in their positions. And it just… I remember exactly where I was walking along Bourke Street in Surry Hills being like, “Oh my God” I was pretty riled up about it ’cause I was like, “That is so spot on.” And they also make some really interesting points about particularly female founders having to keep almost lower profiles and sharing less information about yourself is actually quite beneficial. So, yeah, it’s a really interesting book, whether you’re man or woman or non-binary, whatever whatever your background, I do really recommend it, even though it’s essentially talking about a makeup business. Okay, onto my very quick last call. I have been trying to read the book Shoe Dog for about… I’m going to say at least six or seven years.

1:07:12.9 MK: I have a girlfriend who’s had it on her list and I said I would read it after her. And finally, I just gave up. She’s a prolific reader of every article and magazine under the sun but cannot pick up a book. And finally, I just was like, “Nope, I’m going to read it.” And I’m absolutely hooked. I’m really loving it. So Shoe Dog is a story by the founder of Nike, Phil Knight. And, yeah, I’m just… I don’t know. It’s like really kind of a light business book. So, yeah, really enjoying that one. The moment? Okay. I’m really sad to know that I’m not going to be talking to Taylor for some time because I absolutely love… Yeah, I just love getting to hear your perspective and I know I speak for Julie and Val as well. Thank you so incredibly much for joining us on the show today.

1:08:00.1 TG: It has been my total pleasure. There is nothing like being at an event, Moe, and then having someone write you an email that says, “Hey, let’s talk again.” So, we can make this a regular thing.

1:08:11.8 MK: Oh, I love that.

1:08:14.4 TG: Podcast or no podcast. [laughter]

1:08:14.5 VK: Oh, that’s great.

1:08:15.4 JH: I think this might be… This might be one of the highest nuggets of wisdom per minute episodes. [laughter]

1:08:23.1 TG: Absolutely. Good. I would like to see the data on this.

1:08:25.0 JH: It’s like, “Boom, boom, boom.” [laughter]

1:08:25.5 TG: Maybe one of your listeners will actually run some numbers. [laughter] Yes.

1:08:30.8 MK: That sounds brilliant. So, as always, we’d love to hear from our listeners. You can find us on the Measure Slack or on LinkedIn. Taylor, are you on any of the social platforms where people can reach out?

1:08:43.9 TG: I am. I’m on LinkedIn, where I share nuggets of wisdom just like these that are mostly anecdotes that catch my attention day-to-day. And so you can find me there. And then I’ve got a website where I’ve put a couple of these tidbits and explanations, if anybody feels like they need a refresh. But, of course, this podcast episode will be a great re-listen. And hopefully, we’ll continue to be a resource for people.

1:09:06.3 MK: Amazing. And we’d also love you to drop us a review or a rating on whatever podcast platform you listen to us on. And no show would be complete without a very big thank you to our wonderful producer, Josh. He does a lot of the behind-the-scenes work and this episode is definitely going to make him work for his “paycheck” Now, whether you’re the one asking or answering the question, I know I speak for Julie, Val, and myself, keep analyzing.


1:09:38.2 Announcer: Thanks for listening. Let’s keep the conversation going with your comments, suggestions, and questions on Twitter at @AnalyticsHour, on the web at analyticshour.io, our LinkedIn group, and the Measure Chat Slack group. Music for the podcast by Josh Grohurst.

1:09:55.5 Charles Barkley: Those smart guys wanted to fit in, so they made up a term called “analytics.” Analytics don’t work.

1:10:03.5 Kamala Harris: I love Venn diagrams. It’s just something about those three circles and the analysis about where there is the intersection, right?

1:10:14.9 MK: Okay. I’m channeling my inner Michael. [laughter]

1:10:22.0 VK: Channel your inner Moe, because Moe crushes intros when Moe crushes intros. [laughter]

1:10:27.7 JH: That’s right.

1:10:28.0 VK: Aww. And then she realized that her computer actually does have a headphone jack. [laughter]

1:10:36.2 JH: Yeah, it’s funny they still have them in there.

1:10:38.9 MK: Right? It’s like, “Are you a professional?” I don’t know.

[background conversation]

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