Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Tyler Fredrickson Survivor Interview

What is it like to be a cast member on the TV show Survivor? My buddy Tyler Fredrickson spills the CBS beans, plus he tells us if he has Jeff Probst's cell phone number.


https://soundcloud.com/thequestionacademy/tyler-fredrickson


From time to time I will actually stop writing about the voices in my head and actually ask questions. We will test out my big time theories about questions on actual people. 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Philz Coffee Interview

Phil Jaber is the coffee guru of San Francisco. Phil invented the single pour-over cup of coffee(yes, Phil invented it). The ultimate brew-master tells us why his coffee tastes better than rest and how "Ambrosia- Coffee of God" was made!

https://soundcloud.com/thequestionacademy/philz-coffee



From time to time I will actually stop writing about the voices in my head and actually ask questions. We will test out my big time theories about questions on actual people. 

Friday, February 6, 2015

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Sal Castaneda Interview

Sal Castaneda is a Bay Area media legend. He takes us behind the curtain at KTVU and tells us what HDTV has done to his search for nose hairs!




From time to time I will actually stop writing about the voices in my head and actually ask questions. We will test out my big time theories about questions on actual people. 




Thursday, December 18, 2014

Question Homework



I have never been a big fan of homework (my grades throughout school reflected that.) I went to so far in college to declare that I would never do homework on a Friday or Saturday (my grades definitely reflected that.) I do remember one of my college professors once saying that if I just came to class, I would pass. If I did extra work (homework) I'd get an A or a B.  The same applies to being a good conversationalist. If you only listen to the person you are talking to...you can fake your way through the discussion. But if you go home and digest what that person said to you earlier in the day, you'll remember more of the conversation and you'll be able to have a much deeper discussion with that person the next time you chat.

Occasionally at my work I will walk with someone from the parking lot into the radio station, if we both arrive at the same time. It takes about 10 minutes. One time I was walking with a co-worker who I knew had just bought a house. I asked how it was going, how the process of buying went, if it was her dream house, what they had to do to fix it up. She eventually asked if I owned or rented and then if I was ever going to buy a house. I said funny you should ask, we put an offer on a house the day before and we're waiting to see if it was accepted. I see that co-worker just about every day. Do you know how many times she followed up with me to see if we got that house? Exactly ZERO times!

I thought we had a pretty cool little conversation (as cool as you can have with a co-worker.) I'll give her credit and assume she was listening to me, but as soon as we went our own ways...my tidbit that I was waiting to hear back on buying a house went right out of her brain.

Anybody that has ever bought a house knows its a big freakin' deal. Like, your stomach is in knots until it gets resolved. If you have ever gone through the process...you can sympathize with someone who is going through it.

I just kept thinking every time I bumped into her following our conversation, she would check in and ask how it went. She never did.

For most of us, if we don't intentionally review information...it's gone forever.

A counselor once told me that if you get into the habit of replaying your day right before you go to bed, you will be able to notice habits - good and bad. You'll also be able to see the pattern to what your favorite parts of the day are. After undertaking this exercise for about two weeks, I began to realize the favorite parts of my day were always conversations where I connected with people. I shared something and then they shared something back and a genuine connection was made. What the exercise showed me on a practical level was that I was much better at connecting with people -- if I remembered what we talked about.

Doesn't it mean a lot when you see someone you haven't seen in a while and they follow up on something you talked about last time? "How was that job interview you had last week?" How is your cousin Bob that had the kidney transplant?" What it practically means is that they remembered you. Now some people just have a great memory, but others intentionally go away and think about you and your situation, process it and file it away for future use. Just having someone remember your name is cool, but what an honor it is to have someone think about you when you're not standing in front of them.

I am awful at remembering names. I can't remember where I put my keys and wallet half the time. I leave articles of clothing everywhere across the city. The point is I don't have a great memory in general, but man I remember random facts about people's lives that I've talked with and it's usually because I spent time thinking about them after the conversation.

The best part of this homework is that it doesn't take very long to make information stick, One minute or two at the end of your day is all you need to process something and file it away.

P.S. If I could figure out how to make a Wikipedia entry about myself it would read: Never studied on a Friday or Saturday in college and invented the phrase "Lets Do This"!


Who should talk now?



I want to start with a very big disclaimer: I am a big fat nobody! I am not just saying that to be humble. Ask my wife if you don't believe me.

Ever since I was 19-years-old I have been somewhat in the spotlight. When I was a sophomore in college I was an intern for a radio station's morning show.  People that listened to that radio station knew me as Intern Harry Larry. Being on the radio, most people have no clue who you are. But every once in a while, someone will find out and say, "hey, you're that guy that they made eat yellow snow"!

For just about half my life, I've had a job that people are interested in. My first internship out of college was for was a big time radio show in LA and everyone had questions about the hosts. I've been at TV stations and radio stations and I've gotten the, "what's so and so like" question about a million times. People usually want to know about my job as well. We'll call it the "glamoressness" of my career!

I remember the first time that I hosted a real morning show myself. At radio station events people would always come up and want to talk. They'd ask me questions. I always thought that was funny because every morning I would be sharing about myself on the show. So when I would meet fans of the show (yes I had fans), I would always say, "you know all about me already, what about you?"

I have a muuuuuuuuuch lower profile job then I used to, but every now and again someone will come up and want to meet me.  It's always a kooky experience. But the most recent incident involved my mother-in-law wanting to introduce me to her friend because she knew he listened to me all the time. That was flattering. Having someone tell my mother-in-law, "wow, can you introduce me to Larry?"

It was a long time family friend and it was great. And I don't know how to describe the experience, but when you're in the situation when someone wants to meet you...you get this feeling like you want to talk at them. It's like they are staring at you and saying, "can you give me a private TEDtalk about your life please?"

For some reason this alarm always goes off in my head telling me that it's this other person's chance to talk to me, I already got to talk to them when they heard me on the radio. This particular person heard me giving a traffic report and I immediately asked him where he worked and how long it took to get there. It led to a great discussion about his life and morning routine.

A great discussion considering I was about 5 seconds away from giving him a 10 minute lecture on the finer points of being a bonafide traffic reporter. But instead I asked questions of him and in turn I got to put a face to my unknown audience. I get to think of Ed when I'm giving my traffic reports and thinking that he actually cares about what I am saying makes me better at my job.

How many times does this happen in real life? Maybe it's when one of your children asks you a question or a co-worker compliments you or someone you meet at a party likes your profession. We feel as if this person has just entitled us to give them a discourse on the meaning of life.

You know what these people are looking for? Connection! The guy in his car wants to know what the guy giving his traffic report looks like and he also wants someone else to know that he drives for an hour each way to work to provide for his family.

When an actual person is standing in front of you, and starts off a conversation with a flattering comment, they probably don't want a lecture (they can go get that on YouTube). They want a connection! But what do you want? Do you want to feel important and talk at someone and make sure they know you are a big deal and that yes, you do live up to the standard of the compliment they just gave you?

Or....... are you waiting for people to open up the door just a little bit so that you can start a real conversation and make a real connection? It's not easy. Flattery puts us in a mood to flap our mouths about ourselves. Wanting to build connections is a mindset. Stop Talking. Ask Questions. Change The World.

Just in case I haven't mentioned, I am not a big deal. I am in fact just a scumbag traffic reporter!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Why Talk To Someone You Don't Like



In a perfect world we wouldn't have to talk with anybody we don't like. But most of us go to work and there are people we don't like there. Most of us have to go to a family Thanksgiving every once and a while and there are definitely people we don't like there. But there's the flip side as well; people saying 'I can not handle another family function that Laaaaaaary will be at.' I kinda have an idea of the people that don't like me, and what I find fascinating is that when we bump into each other...they're always talking.

Now to be fair I am totally playing the question game with them, so I am throwing out questions fast and furious. But these people that I kinda know don't really enjoy me......they are the most willing to just blab on.

First and foremost, what I think they are trying to do is establish their superiority and so they talk about themselves. It's like they are trying to set themselves up to be the Alpha in the conversation. We hear people do this - talking about their big work projects or athletic feats. It could also be talking about their big social conquests. "Yeah, the Eagles sounded awesome last night from my front row seats at the concert."

Second these people could be blabbing on because it might be a contentious family relationship and so they are nervous and they're just talking and talking out of uncertainty.

Third, it could just be a control thing. If they talk, they think they are in control. 

But it's completely backwards to blab on to someone you don't like!

I am not trying to lead a seminar on how to deal with difficult people OR endorsing a plan to keep your enemies close OR telling you to bypass the counselors office for dealing with all the people that have wronged you. All I am suggesting is that there is a better way to get through conversations with people you aren't necessarily in love with.

If there is someone at work that you are adversaries with, why would you share anything personal with that person? And let's just pretend you're both sales people; something you say could give them an edge up on a client you are both chasing after. 

The actual power-person in a conversation is not the one talking, it's the one directing the conversation. So, why not find out all you can about your adversary? Once again, I wouldn't go out of my way to talk to them, but if I bumped into them in the break room, I would just start probing. Before you know it, they'll spill the beans on their life, you might learn something useful and just that quick, you'll be done with the conversation. And by the way, that person might actually think you're beginning to like them, because people always think you like them if you ask them questions (it doesn't necessarily hurt to have people think you like them.)

The same strategy applies when running into the relative that drives you to gulp down the last of the spiked egg nog. First off, you might actually learn something. Maybe a relative is a computer nerd, just ask them every question you wanted to know about computers. Got a cousin in the insurance business, pepper him with questions about whether you are getting a good deal from your insurance broker.

Second, Thanksgiving is a long day. You gotta kill the time somehow because your mother-in-law is only going to let you watch football for so long. 

The more questions you ask, the more you will fill up your database of information so you can ask more questions at the next awkward family get together. "Hey the last time we talked you said you were going to start a stamp collection, how's that going"? 

If your mother-in-law sees you talking with Uncle Vinny for a long time, she'll give you major points for trying to make the holiday special and all you did was ask Vinny about stamps.

There is an actual real reason to ask questions when you're faced with someone you will never be best friends with - practice. As I've stated about a million times, Americans are awful at asking questions. Why not use the time to see if you can develop some curiosity about a subject you don't necessarily care about. If you can do it with a person who ranks low on your totem poll, you'll be better at it when you're around people you actually care about.

Here is the flip side of not asking questions to a person you don't really get along with -- you'll be the one talking and guess what...they're probably not listening. They didn't care what you had to say in the first place, and nothing you tell them about your last family vacation is going to change that. Don't waste your words! Let them waste their words!

Here is the best reason to let someone you don't really admire talk....you can day dream. Seriously! Some people are so clueless that they are jabbering away, and they won't have any clue that you are not paying attention. I mean it, you can literally ask a question and then check out. Day dream about your perfect vacation. Think about what you're going to do with your tax return. Just make sure not to yawn, make sure to keep eye contact and nod every now and again, and make sure you don't ever scowl.