The Most Important Question You Must Answer

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Last week I received a great surprise invitation that made me put my money where my mouth is.


Kelsey Fabian, morning show host at WPHL 17 TV here in Philadelphia – invited me to join her on the air Wednesday morning to debrief the one and only debate between Mehmet Oz (“Dr. Oz”) and PA Lt. Governor John Fetterman in the contest to win the soon-to-be-vacant PA seat in the US Senate.


You may recall that last week’s newsletter covered what I anticipated looking for in that unique debate, for a number of reasons, and you can see my full review of the event in my LinkedIn post here.


One theme I have harped on election cycle after election cycle, and in my leadership communication training overall, is the importance of being able to get your message into “tweetable and repeatable” sound bites.


The “strict interpretation” of that phrase, apropos for campaigns of any sort, is being able to essentialize your key points into short phrases. (e.g. “Make America Great Again” – whether you loved it or hated it, it’s extremely “sticky” in marketing terms, i.e. easy to understand, remember, and repeat, which also made it very effective.)


But the “loose interpretation” is more universally necessary. It’s simply the ability to be clear and concise in a very short period of time. In my case, it was in a six-minute television interview.


Now remember – that’s not a six-minute monologue. It includes their introduction of the segment, showing a few clips from the debate, and Kelsey’s questions and comments… which left me with somewhere around 3 minutes total time broken up to answer questions about three different clips (AND share my book title and website when she generously invited me to do so at the end.)


Here’s a link to our interview – you can judge for yourself if I succeeded in making my points clear and concise, and hopefully interesting too!



But one thing I realized from the experience was that there was something else I had in common with the candidates besides super-short windows of time in which to make my points.


I realized that our audiences are all asking the same implicit core question:


“Why should I take a chance on you?”


That was also a theme that came up in this week’s episode of the Speaking to Influence podcast. My guest, Charles Stiles, head of the Mystery Shoppers Professional Association, and president and CEO of Business Evaluation Services, recounted a moment early in his career when speaking with his very first client who had a chain of thirty schools (and was probably old enough to be his father). The client looked at his young face and point-blank asked the question, “Why would I take a chance on you?”


But whether you are a doctor, attorney, sales rep, entrepreneur, or heck, anyone who has ever pitched an idea to someone – from throwing your hat in the ring for a promotion or new job, to just suggesting where the group should go for lunch – you still have to answer that same question somehow or other.


By the way, if Charles’s name is familiar to you, you’ve probably been a long-time fan of the Food Network: Charles hosted the show “Mystery Diners” for eleven seasons!


Incredibly, there are over 2 million mystery shoppers across the country. Does it sound like fun to get paid to shop in a store or eat in a restaurant and secretly evaluate your customer experience? Maybe mystery shopping is for you!


With a little insight into how mystery shopping works, he also shared that now more than ever, one of the biggest challenges pertains to motivation.


In today’s “WFH” world when people have gotten comfortable working in pajama bottoms with no commute, and mystery shoppers are independent contractors (1099s), not “employees,” the hardest question sometimes is how to get people motivated to actually go out the door, turn the key in their car, and GO to work!


Listen to the full conversation here or watch the video on YouTube here.



Last but not least, last Wednesday I also had the honor of being invited to moderate a panel for the annual Women In Philanthropy event for the Catholic Foundation of Greater Philadelphia (CFGP).


“Philanthropy” can be an intimidating word for a lot of people, conjuring images of Bill and Melinda Gates walking around handing out enormous checks to charities.


But note that even if you’re just sending $10 checks to your alumni group, it means you somehow got an answer to the key question of why you should take a chance on them, compared to all the other charities out there.


Of course, although checks are certainly nice (and necessary, eventually,) the women on this panel shared a range of manners in which they selflessly gave of their time, money, energy and resources for the sole purpose of serving others.


Not only was I utterly inspired by their stories, but as a bonus, I got to meet former podcast guest Milena Lanz of Maternal and Child Health Consortium! Here’s a photo of me with Milena (center) and CFGP President Sarah Hanley (left).



How can you decide which of the myriad charities in your neighborhood or around the world deserve your donations of time, money and resources? Start by – literally – asking them the question:


“Why should I take a chance on you?”



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