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Learning how to ask questions is an essential skill for startup founders

Learning how to ask questions is an essential skill for startup founders


For many of us, learning to ask questions was a matter of the five W’s: who, what, where, when, why (and how).

As I interviewed founders about the most valuable learning resources that allowed them to grow into the leaders they are today, I realized that many of them leaned heavily on carefully crafted approaches to asking questions. In all the interviews, inquiry was by far the most cited learning process. I found these founders to be incredibly methodical, brave, curious, disciplined and efficient in their pursuit of learning.  

Founders showed incredible discipline by approaching information gathering as a structured process. Some founders have a highly systematic approach in how they target their outreach:

I learned by being systematic about talking to people smarter than myself. I needed to know hundreds of people and know what they know. I made a table matrix of who I talk to and for what topic. For example, Eric Schmidt is one of six experts I turn to on establishing management OKRs.

— Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn

And in how they catalog/store information about who is an expert …

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