Stop Asking Questions

“Stop Asking Questions” is Andrew Warner’s book where he offers short lessons on how to be a good interviewer and podcast host. There are lots of great tactics that can be applied to everyday conversations. Here are my notes from each section:

4. What’s a win for you
Reassures the guest that you care about their needs, establishes trust

  • What would make your team happy to hear us talk about?
  • Why did you agree to do this interview?
  • How can I make this interview as useful for you as it will be for me and my listeners?

5. Join the resistance
“I never failed” → “It’s amazing to talk to someone who always got everything right”
“I’m not a worrier” → “I don’t usually get to talk to people who are 100% confident”

6. Discover topics they crave
Look for shoved facts during the conversation:
“Sorry I’m late. When you go through a divorce, everything takes longer …”

7. Reciprocation
If only one side shares vulnerable information, they will feel resentment. If you want people to be open with you, you need to be willing to share first

8. Promotion stopper
You can use this phrase: “We’ll get to that, but first let’s finish talking about ….”

10. Because
Just ask “Because?” to let the guest elaborate

11. The dramatic lowball
I threw out a number that was absurdly low for her. I asked “Are you doing at least a million dollars in sales?” She shot back, “We’re doing 20 or 30 times that.”
I gave her a number that was almost an insult. Instinctively, she felt the need to correct the record.

12 . Share a higher purpose
Give the guest a mission they can buy into and support, examples:
– “Greg, I want to record an interview so good that decades from now when your great-great-grandkids wonder how you built your business, they’ll come listen to what we record today.”
– “We both believe in pushing ourselves physically. I think I might be able to do my first solo 26.2 mile run, but I’m still at only 14 miles. Would you help me?” –

13. Stop asking questions
Question after question sounds needy. Instead of asking “How did you get your first customer?” I said, “Tell me how you got your first customer.”

14. Put the words in someone else’s mouth
“What do you say to someone listening to us thinking, ”James is only happy now because he has money in the bank.“ I imagine someone listening to us thinking …. What would you say to that?

15. Pre-ask the shocking before the interview
Would he mind if I asked him about it so he could address it?

16. A time when you
A lot of advice can sound cliche. But when you share advice through stories, it becomes memorable and actionable. Ask “Do you have an example of that?”

17. Stop asking most questions
Instead of asking “Who’s the most important person you hired? I go with ”Who’s an important person you hired?“

18. Use double-barreled questions
Double-barreled questions are questions that address two different issues. When reporters ask double-barreled questions, their subjects answer the easy part and ignore the part they don’t like.

“Is it inappropriate for me to ask …”

20. Sorry to interrupt
“I’m sorry to interrupt, but …”

21. Avoid train crashes
Have an emergency question ready like “What’s your motivation?”
“Listening to you, I can see you work hard. I have to pause and ask: what’s your motivation?”

22. Home run questions
The peak-end rule is a cognitive bias. Humans tend to remember two aspects of an experience more than anything else: the peak (i.e: most intense) and the end.
When an interview ended, I thanked them, and told them they did well, and mentioned one specific thing I liked from our conversation.

You might be tempted to send over a list of questions before the interview. I found that shortcut to be much less effective.

Interview Structure: Hero’s Journey

(Asking reddit founder) “True of false” You guys saw that Digg was doing well and said, ‘Let’s jump on that bandwagon“

Joe Rogan’s style: The host moves quickly through multiple subject areas, looking for what’s new and fascinating. “Forget about the flamethrower.” (switches subject)

Ask your audience: “I’m going to interview [whomever]. What questions should I ask them”

Stop looking for guests individually and instead look for sources of guests – search for idea fountains
Interview idea fountain: “Companies acquired in the last 3 months” or “Amazon’s upcoming book section”

How to say No
When it’s time to say no, depersonalize it. Put the rejection in someone else’s mouth. Did you promise your sponsor you’d focus on a certain type of guest? Say so. If there’s no one else to point to, blame your higher purpose and guidelines.

“I admire what you have planned for your company, but when I interview founders of smaller companies, my audience complains and sends me angry emails. It’s not worth it for you and me to get that kind of treatment”
“In recent years my audience has complained when I feature investors instead of entrepreneurs”

Tools he uses:

  • Descript [Editing Software]
  • Semrush [which websites send people to my guest’s website to understand their marketing]
  • Pipedrive [CRM]
  • Sachit Gupta –
  • Fusebox – audio player for your website

Not Giving Up
I couldn’t give up because I had already scheduled more interviews. I had to keep going because I’d already committed to interviewing them and others. The best way to ensure you keep going is to schedule interviews ahead of time. Let your commitment to another person drive you even when you doubt yourself.

January 3, 2023

Burn Rate

Burn Rate is a book about the intersection of mental illness and entrepreneurship. It tells the story of Andy Dunn starting a men’s fashion company, Bonobos, while fighting with bi-polar disorder. Here are some parts that I highlighted:

On mental health:
  • When we say someone “is bipolar” rather than “has bipolar disorder,” that’s like saying that someone “is cancer” rather than “has cancer.”
  • Perhaps depression is the absence of hope.
  • I became an expert at camouflage. Hide in workaholism, hide in alcoholism, show no vulnerability, do no serious self-inquiry, and have no hard conversations. In other words: get no help.
  • I came to perceive my job as, if not a mood stabilizer, certainly an antidepressant. By demanding so much of me, by insisting that I show up and keep the lights on at the company, the business gave me a purpose that transcended my malaise.
  • I wonder if I would have been able to pull this off were it not for those frenetic episodes of elevated mood that bipolar disorder made possible.
  • We buy things we don’t need, with money we don’t have, to impress people we don’t like.

On relationships:

  • Ingredients that spell doom between partners are criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling.
  • It occurred to me then that the best way to build influence with someone is to accept their influence to begin with.
  • I am who I say you are.

On business:

  • When you work at a private equity, your bosses buy and sell companies, mostly with other people’s money, and earn outsize returns by leveraging those investments with debt.
  • Information technology, software, and the developing internet made possible asymmetric returns that you couldn’t access in businesses where you had physical inventory and real estate.
  • I realized that the most self-confident leaders are not the ones who need to talk, but the ones who ask the best questions.

The book was a page turner, I couldn’t put it down after starting. The descriptions of his manic state were very engaging and I could imagine myself as a manic CEO. It’s a good read if you’d like to build empathy towards people with bi-polar disorder.

December 18, 2022

Gel Hayattan Konuşalım

“Gel Hayattan Konuşalım” bir söyleşi kitabı. Gazeteci Filiz Aygündüz ve psikiyatrist Alper Hasanoğlu’nun aşk, mutluluk, evlilik, ilişkiler, hayatın anlamı ve ölüm konuları etrafında yaptıkları sohbetin yazıya dökülmüş hali. Filiz Aygündüz gerektiğinde irdeleyen sorularla sohbeti ustalıkla yönlendirmiş ve ortaya kolay okunan, keyifli bir metin çıkmış. Kitabın ilk baskısındaki yazım hataları ise (Lawrence Durrell yerine Durell, adderall yerine adherall) editör Handan Akdemir İngilizce bilmiyor mu diye düşündürtüyor. Sohbet sırasında Alper Hasanoğlu’nun Türkiye’ye dönüş öyküsü ve İsviçre’deki psikanalisti ile yaşadığı deneyim gibi anıları keyifle okudum, kendi hikayesine daha çok yer vermesini isterdim. Okurken aldığım notlar şöyle:


  • Zaman çok hızlı geçiyorsa bir şeyleri yapamıyoruz gibi gelir bize. Zaman bir şekilde geçmek bilmiyorsa, canımız sıkılıyorsa yine bir şey yapamıyoruz gibi gelir. Ya eksik kalmıştır ya da yapacak bir şeylerimiz yoktur ve zamanı hissederiz. Ama eğer zamanı hissetmiyorsak, huzurluysak ya da huzursuz değilsek ve mutsuz değilsek bu yeterlidir, illa ki mutlu olmak zorunda değiliz.


  • Freud “İki insan arasındaki ilişkide en az dört kişi vardır” der. “Ben, benim gördüğüm sen, sen ve senin gördüğün ben.”
  • Terapi tavsiye etmek değildir, eşlik etmektir.
  • Eğer biri seni kızdırırsa, seni kızdıran o adam değil, senin bu konudaki kanaatindir. Başımıza gelen olaylar değil, o olaylara ne mana yüklediğimizdir bizim duygularımızı oluşturan şeyler.

Hayatın anlamı

  • Bir insan bir konuyla neden bu kadar çok ilgilenir? O konuda bir derdi vardır.
  • İnsan ne zaman anlam aramaya başlar? Hayatını anlamsız bulduğunda aramaya başlarsın. Ne olur da insan hayatını anlamsız bulur? Bir şeyler ters gittiğinde. Hayatımızda bir şeyler ters gittiğinde, kendimizi kötü hissettiğimizde, bi şeyler bizi tatmin etmemeye başladığında ne anlamı var diyoruz bütün bunları yapıyor olmanın. Bu kadar çok çalışmak zorunda mıyım? Yapmak istemediğim şeyleri niye yapıyorum? Hepsi aslında kendimizi bir şekilde sıkıntıda hissettiğimizde, kaygılı, depresif bir mod yaşadığımızda, mutsuz olduğumuzda, terk edildiğimizde gelir …
  • Irvin Yalom diyor ki hayatın anlamı yoktur, sen ona bir anlam verirsen olur.
  • Alfred Adler “Başkası için bir şey yaparsan kendini iyi hissedersin ve hayat senin için anlamlı olur” diyor.
  • Çehov’a soruyorlar “Hayatın anlamı nedir?” diye. O da şöyle yanıtlıyor: “Bir havucun anlamı nedir? Bir havucun anlamı neyse hayatın da anlamı odur.” Havuç bir bitkidir, yenir. Hayat da yaşanır.
  • Hayat anlamlı değil demek hayatın anlamsız olduğu anlamına gelmiyor. Hayat hayattır. Öyle duruyor.
  • “Hayat, bir sokak köpeğinin başıboş dolaşması gibidir.” – Melih Cevdet Anday
  • “Hayatın bütün zorluğu çok basit olmasında” – Melih Cevdet Anday


  • Kimse birisi öldü diye üzülmüyor. Ben onu artık göremeyeceğim diye kendisine üzülüyor. İnsanlar bencilce üzülüyorlar. Ölen adamın ya da kadının bir derdi yok ki artık. Öldü o.
  • Hiçbir alkolik, alkolik olduğunu kabul etmez.
  • İnsanın anne ve babasının ölmesi, geçmişinin ölmesi, yok olmasıdır. Ama kendi çocuklarının ölmesi geleceğinin yok olmasıdır.
October 23, 2022

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sarp centel

Sarp is a software developer. He writes about technology, books and software.
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André Rieu'nun Anthony Hopkins'in bestelediği vals eserini Viyana'daki Belvedere kalesinde ilk kez sahnelediği sıra… @sarp
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Stop Asking Questions
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