Why Ask Why? Why Not?!

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Why Ask Why
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This week I got to live out my rock star fantasy. It didn’t involve musicians, movie stars or heads of state. I had total access to some of the top marketing minds around. They are innovators and thought leaders. They are funny, brilliant, forward thinking people and I got to hang with them! They came from all over the country for 3 days of knowledge sharing and idea development. And to also participate in my version of the Spanish Inquisition.

Young children are so inquisitive. “What’s that?” they ask. “Grass.” “Why is it grass? Why is it green? Why is it itchy on my skin? Who makes it? How does it grow?” They can go on like this for hours, or in my case, for 3 days. I was that little kid this week. I was in awe of great minds and trying to absorb every ounce of information I could before I flew home, or they ran away from me screaming.

I’m not ashamed though because, like a kid, this is how I learn. I ask question after question after question until I get to the root of the answer. Strong interview skills are an asset. Whether in sales, writing, journalism, or career development you have to ask the right questions. Below are a few quick tips.

1. Do your research. Read their books and blogs. Study their LinkedIn profiles, read their Twitter streams. What do they read? Where do they consume information? What’s their background?
2. Ask “Why?” And keep asking why. The natural response for most people is to answer with a brief response. Dig in and keeping digging. It’s amazing what you’ll learn.
3. Talk about them, not you. A simple rule in dating that’s easily transferable into business. People like to talk about what interests them. Ask about their business, education, hobbies, etc. Learn what their drivers are. What inspires them and why?
4. Listen. You can prep as many questions as you want, but you can never predict the direction a conversation will take. Listen and learn to build questions based on their responses.
5. Put aside your fear of annoying someone. In most cases people want to converse and share information. If you’ve done steps 1-4 then step 5 is easy.

What tips would you add for conducting a good interview?

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Marilyn Cox

Marilyn Cox is the Director of Marketing for Second City Works - the B2B division of the famed Second City.

You know the buzzwords; inbound, outbound, content, demand gen, lead gen, martech, social media, account-based, advocacy, customer success, sales enablement, and analytics.She studies it, plans it, executes it, experiments with it, and loves it.

Through discovery, creation, and innovation she's learned to say "Yes, And".Like business, her career is one big improvisational act.

She leads all aspects of the brand and culture, developing and executing a clearly defined, integrated marketing communications strategy.Marilyn is responsible for planning, organizing, staffing, training, and managing all marketing functions to achieve objectives of growth, awareness, customer success and making work better.

Marilyn exists to empower sales and support the customer. When not geeking out over marketing analytics, she can be found daydreaming about her unrealized dream as a professional wrestler with the WWE.
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