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March 1999


First Word

Q and A Is The Only Way - John Milton Fogg

John Milton Fogg Back in the 18th Century-- the so-called and perhaps rightly titled Age of Enlightenment-- there was an acknowledged intellectual giant whose real name, François Marie Arouet, you may not have known. Now, you do.

You're probably quite familiar with Franc's "stage" name-- he loved actors and acting; by the way, it was Voltaire.

If Voltaire had lived in our world today, I'm absolutely persuaded he would have been a Network Marketer-- and a very, very successful one. He was one heavy-hitter of an entrepreneur, a self-made millionaire back when class rules didn't allow for that kind of upward mobility. He was also a master Networker, with a warm-market circle of influence that eventually included kings, nobility, and the leading scientists, artists, writers, philosophers and even religious leaders of his day. I'm convinced he would have sponsored Frederick II of Prussia into his downline. How's that for recruiting leaders?

But the real reason I say he would have been one of us was his love of asking questions. "Judge a man," Voltaire said, (sadly, with the sexism of his day), "by his questions rather than his answers."

I'll take one Networker who has just some of the right questions over 100 who have all the answers any day. In Network Marketing, Q & A is the only way to build your business; from prospecting and follow-up, through sponsoring and leadership development. And the emphasis is on mastering the "Q" and listening to the "A."

What kind of questions are best?

Any kind-- any of the genuinely interested and curious kind that reveal what's really important to people.

Long ago in my learning of this business, Richard Brooke told me a story that I have re-told countless times around the world. It was about a psychiatrist who was doing research for a book.

The doctor set up the following experiment: He would book a first-class seat on a plane flight from New York to L.A. and he would only ask questions of the person sitting next to him. No facts and figures. No declarative statements of any kind. He would only ask the person questions.

Sure enough, a fellow sat down next to him and the psychiatrist started asking questions. He kept it up for the entire flight-- six hours coast-to-coast. When the plane landed in Los Angeles, the man was met by the doctor's research staff and interviewed. Two important and powerful things came out of that meeting:

First, the man who sat next to the psychiatrist and talked with him for six hours didn't know his name. Proof positive that the good doctor did not reveal any information.

Second, the man who sat next to the doctor-- who only asked questions-- said the psychiatrist was, the single most interesting person he had ever met in his life!


Human beings are reciprocal creatures. We like people who like us. We are interested in people who take an interest in us. We usually don't particularly care for people who can't stand us. The point: When you are curious and interested in a person's favorite subject-- themselves-- they will be interested in you, too.

And you give form and substance to your interest and caring by asking questions about them.

A new spin on the old "Show and Tell": Show them you care-- by asking questions about them. And they'll Tell you all you need and want to know.

Dr. Stephen Covey said it magnificently in his all-time best-seller The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People: "Seek first to understand, then to be understood." (Habit number five, I believe; subtitled "Principles of Empathic Communication.")

If the two Francs-- Voltaire and Bacon (Bacon, often suspected of being Shakespeare's ghost writer, said, "A prudent question is one-half of wisdom.")-- Dr. Covey, and the likes of Michael Gerber (of E-Myth fame) Socrates, Plato, and a whole host of awfully bright famous and not-so others are on the Ask, Ask, Ask bandwagon, far be it from me to stand down there on the street-- with all the answers-- and just watch it and them go by.

Questions. Asking questions. That's the thing to learn, teach and train.

If you were stranded on a desert island in the middle of the Sea of Network Marketing and could only take one tool with you, what would it be?

Leave Being The Best... and The Greatest Networker... home. Forget Randy's and Tom's tapes. Just bring a bunch of questions. When you're finally rescued, you will have an organization of thousands.

Q & A has a life of its own. It is a process, and, like all processes, if you simply trust it, the process will move you right along like a canoe on the James River after a spring thaw.

How are you?

What do you like best about that?

If you could be anything other than a human being, what would you be?

If I could show you a way...?

Ask and ye shall find out whether or not there's a fit with that person and your products and opportunity.

And speaking of Great Questions, I came up with this instant classic while working on the sequel to The Greatest Networker. This IS NOT a prospecting question-- unless of course you're the kind of person whose recruiting process includes a little deep psychological probing for fun and profit.

This is a question designed to reveal the fundamental thing that stops you from your own greatness, from being the best you can be-- in or out of MLM.


Cool, here it is: Complete the following sentence:

"No matter what I do, it's never ___________________________ ."

Now that's a stunning question!

What the answer to this fill-in-the-blank exercise speaks to is the core self-imposed limitation that holds you back in your life and work. I first started asking this question in The Greatest Networker Mentor Program. So far, with great self-discovery response.

We the people come in two predominant shapes and sizes when it comes to how we complete this sentence: Quantity or quality. We find ourselves either wanting more or wanting better. The conclusion we reached way-back-when as children tends to lead in one of two different directions: Either we decided we were not good enough (quality) or were simply not enough (quantity).

Look at yourself and the people in your life. Do you notice a striving to be better, do better, have better-- or to be, do, have more? Chances are, it's one or the other.

And chances are, in Network Marketing-- this most relationship-centered of all businesses, where personal growth and development are so vital for sincere and contented success-- this is a question that may help you discover the key to whatever has kept you from the accomplishments that are due you.

Which, I think, makes it a question very worth asking-- with an answer greatly worth listening to.

Enjoy the question. It's the only way.


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Reprinted with permission from Upline, The First Word-March 1999, 888-UPLINE-1,