Better Questions For Fun And Profit: Ignite San Francisco

Better Questions For Fun And Profit: Ignite San Francisco

Ignite is a great event that started in Seattle (I was at the first one, way back when). They invite a bunch of speakers (anyone can propose a topic), give them 20 slides and 5 minutes with the slides advancing every 15 seconds automatically.

No product pitches, just good thinking and 5 minutes to deliver a message. I still remember some of the better talks from so many years ago.

I heard they are having one here in SF, so I whipped up a quick proposal on the off chance that other people are interested in what I’m interested in.

Here it is:

Title: Asking Good Questions For Fun and Profit

Why is rhetoric an ugly word in our society? It smells of something old and distant. It’s been dropped from our educational curriculum and to the uninitiated might seem largely useless in modern times.

Nothing could be further from the truth. In that ancient time where spoken words were the only form of mass communication, methods of conveying, convincing and persuading people were the “high tech” of the times. Those lessons are lost on most of us, but still very very relevant. We spend our lives persuading others, at home and at work. Master negotiators, high end business development and sales people learn some tricks of the trade that would be useful to all of us.

Here are a few basics that can first change how you think, then how you speak, and then your outcome.

I’ll focus on 2 things in 5 minutes.

What tense you speak in:

Why would you phrase things in the past tense? (the tense of Blame)

The present tense? (The tense of Values)

The future tense? (The tense of Choice)

And how you phrase your questions:

When should you ask questions that demand a specific answer? Questions that start with a verb? Or interrogative questions that lead your counter to a come up with a vision in their minds eye, which will lead to a decision… How does this relate to open ended vs closed questions?  What is the effect on your audience?

 My hope is that you will use this with your spouse, your friends, your adversary in business, and your colleagues at your next staff meeting.  We still live with our words, how much thought are you putting into how you use yours?

I’m a tech guy. But over the last 10 years I’ve been extremely interested in human psychology and persuasion, and in the last 2 years I’ve been in my own company which has lead my day to day role to include an extreme amount of negotiation between parties. I’m sharing some of the lessons I’ve learned both academically, and in practice.

I got a Electrical Engineering degree at Rice University, then moved to Microsoft in Seattle, then left and wandered for a bit (learned fluent Portuguese, lived in Brazil, did an Ironman, did some Public Speaking and learned to twist balloon art for pocket money).

Then I re-entered the startup world in music at a company called iLike. It sold to MySpace, and I moved to a game company called Playdom here in the Bay Area. I started and ran their mobile division and stayed until after the acquisition by Disney.

For the last couple years I’ve been running a micro-cap public company initially focused on consolidation in the game space, and more recently I’ve personally become interested in the online advertising space. I thought my career used to be about tech, then about product, but now it’s about people, and getting those people to move in the same direction.