welcome to big think on the gotoday’s topic is become the smartestperson in the roomdevelop superpowers by investigatingwhat others won’tpresented by tim ferrisswe all have a preoccupation with lookingdumb we are social creatureshierarchical creatures and we don’t wantto shame ourselves humiliate ourselvesbut recognizing thatby zigging when everyone else is zaggingwith that particular contextyou can actually develop a superpowerand that is asking dumbquestions and this came up repeatedlywhen i was interviewing incredibleperformersworld-class performers meaning investorsentrepreneurswriters you name it and asking dumbquestionscan take many forms i’ll give you a fewexamples malcolm gladwellis very good at asking so-called dumbquestionsyou learned that from his father who wasa mathematician had nointellectual insecurities whatsoeverjust did not care about looking stupidand he would constantly ask or he wouldfirst say i don’t understandplease explain that i don’t understandcan you explain thati don’t understand can you explain thatand he would literally he might ask thatten times in a row malcolm mentionedthat he imagined sometimes what theconversation would look like between hisdad andbernie madoff because his dad neverwould have invested he just would havehe just would have said i don’tunderstand that at all explain that tome over and over again until madoff leftor his dad got so frustrated to leavebut uh if we look at another sphere sayinvestingchris sacca a close friend of minebillionaireincredible tech investor just immaculatetrack record is very good at asking dumbquestionsand this applies to in the very earlydays where he did somethingvery clever which was at google when hewasjust entry level guy really comparedcertainly to saythe the wonder twins the founders andothers he would go to as many high-levelmeetings as possiblemost of which he was not invited to andso he would show upat a meeting with say sergey or whateverand he’d walk in andsit down and they’d kind of look at eachother and ask him what he was doingthere you go ohi’ll just take notes and they’re likeokayand so he gets in on all these highlevel meetings and eventuallyhe would then ask these dumb questionsso the pink elephant in the roomwhy is no one asking this what seemslike a very obvious questionand he’s created some incrediblebreakthroughs in investing as a resultof thatthe asking of dumb questions cancertainly apply to exploring any topicor interviewingso alex uh bloomberg who’s co-founder ofgimlet media which has a slew ofgigantic podcast hitsjust a a factory for podcastsblockbustershe was the co-creator of planet moneywhich is a very successful radio andpodcast showand for instance during thesubprime economic crisis he asked thequestionthat no one else seemed to be asking butit was just sitting right in front ofmillions of people who couldn’t quitefigure out what the hell happenedand it was why would banks lend money topeoplewho stand next to no chance of paying itbackand so very often the dumb questionthat is sitting right there that no oneseems to be askingis the smartest question you can ask notonly is it the smartest most incisivebut if you want to ask it and you’rereasonably smarti guarantee you there are other peoplewho want to ask they’re just embarrassedto do soand in this case if you can overridethat embarrassment and be the one whoasks dumb questionsyou can end up having best-selling booksyou can end uphaving a huge blockbuster of a podcastor many you could end uppicking the next uber it is a superpowerin a world that is governed by shame andperhaps political correctness more andmore so peopleare not saying what’s on their mindthey’re not asking what’s on their mindand the questions here are the mostpowerfulif you look across all of the iconstitans world-class performers that i’veinterviewed in thesay wealthy section right if we’redividing them into healthy wealthy andwise we look at thethe business side of things one of themostcommon patterns that you spot is absurdquestionsand the power of the absurd question isreally something that i’ve paid a lot ofattention to in the last few yearswhether that’s say peter thiel so serialbillionairecertainly an incredible entrepreneur butalso an incredibleinvestor good at betting on presidentsturns out as welland he would ask questions such aswhy can’t you accomplish your 10-yearplan in the next six monthsand if you talk to say peter diamandischairman of the x prizehe might ask the founders of companieshe’slooking at as potential investments ifyou had to 10x the economics of yourstartupin the next six months three months howwould you do itand if they say it can’t be done it’simpossible his response isi don’t accept that answer try againthose types of questions i think arewhether it’s 10x thinking 100x howeveryou frame thatit could also be a constraint forinstance if you had to accomplishall of your work or grow your company 2xwhile working two hours a week if youhad a gun against your headhow would you attempt to do that thesetype of absurd questionsdon’t allow you to use your defaultframeworksfor solutions they don’t allow you touse yourbase of current assumptions to come upwith answers it forces you to thinklaterally it forces you to breaksome of the boundaries on the sphere ofcomfort that you’ve created for yourselfand that is what makes them i think in away so powerfuland these are not questions by the way ithinkare valuable if you ponder them for 10seconds and go hmmyeah maybe i would do this and then moveon with your day i think thatjournaling as an adjunct to asking thesequestions isis very very important so i will sitdown very oftenin the morning one of my rituals alsoborrowed from a lot of these people ismorning journaling of some type and itend to use either morning pagesfive minute journal or just a separatetype of freehand sort ofgoal dissection and this would be a casewhere i would ask one of those questionsand i wouldwrite freehand for say three pages threeto five pagesand drink some tea as i’m doing it andthat is when you will not only come upwithinteresting ideas uh and there might be90garbage but if you have 10 percent thatleads you in an interesting directionthat could completely revolutionize yourbusinessor your life if you take that seed anddo something with it and that’s been thecasefor me for a very long time i actuallycreated a list at one pointafter observing this pattern among thesepeople i was interviewingand i just made a list of what are themost absurd things i could do right nowrelated to my life and business icreated this long list and some of themwere terriblei mean literally i was at a conference iwas bored and that’s why i was doingthisand some of them were very specificbusiness related one of them was cut offmy own feet i mean like what the helland so i disregarded that when i stillhave my feet you can’t see but they’reintactand at the same time though one of themwas take a complete break from startupinvestingso retire from startup investing becausethat had become a source of stressdue to the inbound the deal flow andthat was a real game changer for metaking myindefinite startup vacation about twoyears ago which has led toincredible growth in other areasincluding in my own businessesso there you have it the power of absurdquestionsto summarize ask dumb questionsas social creatures we worry aboutlooking stupid in front of other peoplethe possibility of embarrassment keepsus from asking about things we don’tunderstandtry letting go of your intellectualinsecuritiesif you don’t understand something speakup sayi don’t understand can you pleaseexplain thatpersist until you grasp the answerwhen possible surround yourself withpeople who are more experienced orknowledgeable than you aredon’t be afraid to ask obvious questionsyou might help uncover a potentialbreakthroughoftentimes the dumb question is actuallythe smartest question you can askif you want to ask it others probablywant to ask it tooin a world governed by shame askingwhat’s on your mindcan lead to success[Music]ask absurd questions try asking yourselfquestions that seem crazywhy can’t i accomplish my 10 year planin the next six monthsif i had to 10x the growth of my companyin the next three monthshow would i do it it can’t be doneis not an acceptable answerabsurd questions can provide positiveconstraintsthey keep you from falling back on yourdefault frameworks for solving problemsthe idea is to set aside your currentassumptions and force yourself out ofyour comfort zonedon’t treat absurd questions as afleeting thought exercisetake them seriously try journaling toflesh out your answersasking absurd questions canrevolutionize your business or your life

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