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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