Larry King wrapped up his CNN television show with a kind of schmaltzy program, as one might expect. Amid a particularly awkward segment where Fred Armisen from Saturday Night Live was imitating Larry King and peppering him with questions, he asked, “What’s the best interview question?”

The real Larry King responded, “’Why?’ is the greatest question because you can’t answer it in one word, and it forces the other person to think.”

What a great strategic insight about such a simple question.

Several years ago, a so-called career coach suggested I ask fewer “why” questions since, in his estimation, they made me seem negative. As a result, I’ve downplayed “why” in the Brainzooming question repertoire. Having heard Larry King’s perspective, however, I’ll be putting more “why” questions into the mix.

P.S. The real star of the show was Cannon King, who did a spot-on imitation of his father getting ready to go to the show that evening. Somebody should give this kid a program! – Mike Brown

The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at [email protected] or call 816-509-5320 to learn how we can ask the right questions to get the answers and strategies you’re looking for to improve your business success.

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Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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6 Responses to “The Greatest Question Ever According to Larry King”

  1. I love asking the “why?” question, but like you, I’ve sometimes been viewed as being too negative. So, I now ask that question of myself much more frequently than I do of others. It really helps sharpen my own thinking.

    Someone once told me that to drill down to the root of a complex issue, I needed to ask the “why?” question five times. In other words, I should not be content with the first answer that comes, but rather respond to that answer with, “And why is that important?”

    I’ll date myself when I share this next thought because our economy and the workforce have changed since I was in college. I remember, though, one of my professors saying, “The person who knows HOW will always have a job, but he or she will always work for someone who knows WHY.” Quite profound, even in today’s new landscape.

    • Mike Brown says:

      Interesting Duane that you have received the same reaction relative to using the question, “Why?”

      There may be a lot in the tone of the question. You can ask “why” hopefully or skeptically, and probably a variety of ways in between. As I use it, I’ll be trying to employ a hopeful or wonder-seeking tone in my voice.

  2. Absolutely, Mike. Sometimes it’s appropriate to become 4-year-olds again. Check out TED’s The Power of Why also http://ow.ly/3xrkU


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