“That’s a great question,” the interviewee said, inserting a long pause between the comment and her answer. I had flashbacks to similar moments where I was also forced to bide time to construct my response. And that got me to thinking. What was it about this particular question that made it “great?”

Great questions shed light on pivotal moments from our pasts. These unexpected epiphanies shift our minds into overdrive to extract meaning so deep that it’s impossible to answer with a single sentence. In other words, great questions require story-answers, thus we need additional time to work out the details, setup the premise, and deliver the conclusion. 

  1. What made you start this business?
  2. What event made you who you are today?
  3. If you had to pick one moment to relive, what would it be?
  4. What single piece of advice would you offer your younger self?

Great questions are time machines that deliver us to the most influential moments from our pasts.

So, when was the last time someone asked you a great question and you had to think deeply about your answer? In all likelihood, you answered with a story.


Photo Credit: Wood, Thomas Waterman, Artist. Thinking It Over. , 1884. Photograph. https://www.loc.gov/item/2002723420/.