Most questions about money really don’t have answers — or at least one answer. Nobody knows why the Dow goes up or down, what the value of the dollar will be next year against the Euro, or how much I will get for my house if I ever decide to sell it.
I started the Fully Invested Project because, in my day job, I kick off all of my work with the opportunity for my audience to ask well-structured questions After a very brief intro, I put them in small groups of 4-6 and ask them to come up with two financial questions, one “business” and one “personal”. People typically ask things like:
- Why does my client want to own their assets?
- What goes through the mind of a financial decision-maker?
- What does EBITDA, free cash flow, OPM or (insert weird acronym here) really mean and why should I care?
- Should I lease a car?
- Should I pay off my mortgage?
- Should I buy a certain stock?
These questions tell me what is on the mind of my audience and their approximate level of business acumen, so I can gear the rest of our time together to where they are in real life.
In answering their questions, my goal is to have them see that:
- the business questions and the personal questions are the same;
- they already know a lot about the world of money and financial decision-making;
- they know how to quantify the unquantifiable.
This works, because I’ve set it up so their “expected case assumptions” are embedded in their questions. There are three kinds of assumptions: best (my book will be on the New York Times Bestseller List. Hint..), worst, no one will ever buy it, and the expected case (Oprah will call me next year on my birthday, just to say hi.). The best questions are when the asker “shows what they know”.
In improv, it’s generally a bad idea to ask questions.
How are you?
But the scene is already dead. Instead, we try to convey assumptions about who we are to our scene partner, where the scene is taking place, and the general dynamic of the situation. It is easier to do this with statements but great scenes can begin with questions like these:
“Have you seen my lucky shorts?”
“If we name the baby Gertrude, will your mother be upset?”
“General, have we secured the perimeter?”
These questions work because, in improv and in money, the best questions are when we show what we know.
Got some good questions? Examples of really bad ones? Send ‘em on!