I have to admit, when I first met Warren, the fact that he had this framework was a real surprise to me. I met him at a dinner my mother had put together. On my way there, I thought, “Why would I want to meet this guy who picks stocks?” I thought he just used various market-related things—like volume, or how the price had changed over time—to make his decisions. But when we started talking that day, he didn’t ask me about any of those things. Instead he started asking big questions about the fundamentals of our business. “Why can’t IBM do what Microsoft does? Why has Microsoft been so profitable?” That’s when I realized he thought about business in a much more profound way than I’d given him credit for.
“What are My Questions?”
Asking great questions is a skill, but doesn’t come as you would expect. One contributing factor is that, with age, education, and experience, we become conditioned to cogitate in very rigid terms. Heuristics and mental shortcuts become deep-seated and instinctual to allow for faster problem-solving and programmed decision-making.
Idea for Impact: Don’t ask the same questions most people ask. The smartest people I know don’t begin with answers; they start by asking, “what are our questions?”
Make inquiries using open-ended questions that can’t be answered with a ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ Effective questions will help you think deeper, generate meaningful explorations, and yield far more interesting insights.