The Network Marketing Magazine on the 17th Anniversary By: Michael York

Michael York

Big Congrats To My Good Friend George Madiou and The Network Marketing Magazine on the 17th Anniversary of an online resource for countless individuals on getting better in life as well as work. 

My contribution to this historic anniversary issue is about QUESTIONS!

We all have them, we all ask them…and the best part is we all have within us the ability to ASK BETTER ONES.

The 10 Questions That Changed (almost) Everything! WHAT IF…

While many, if not most, individuals think what they want is ANSWERS, often our focus just needs to be on ASKING BETTER QUESTIONS. Speaking and writing about this over three decades now caused me to come up with TEN QUESTIONS that CHANGED EVERYTHING. Some for the organizations that asked them and all that had a major impact on me and my ASKING. I’m sure there are many more, maybe even some you can add to the list, but here are a few to get the ASKING STARTED…

>1 The Starbucks Question                                                                                                     This is actually a collection of questions that launched a juggernaut of radical revenue generation. The Starbucks Q begins with WHAT IF, a classic beginning for many powerful Qs. “What if people who didn’t…DID?” Meaning of course, what if people who didn’t drink COFFEE (you can replace coffee with whatever it is that you do or sell) started drinking coffee? What would happen? Even though it’s hard to believe today there actually was a time when more people DIDN’T drink coffee than did, the tide has turned because Starbucks asked what if and then went to work on the answer (The Hawaii Question). There are actually 3 more BONUS questions from Starbucks, but we’ll save them for later.

>2 The Hawaii Question (or The HOW question) I call this one the Hawaii question because if we all agree that Hawaii is the destination, we then must determine HOW to get there.

Much like your goals, the key is the HOW in arriving there. I mean no one’s driving to Hawaii, right? Yet that’s how many organizations and individuals approach their goals. They may even say (as I’ve had salespeople tell me) “Our goals are unrealistic…” “And what do you base that on?” I’ll always ask.

The answer is usually something like “We haven’t made the goal in 2 years” or some other answer that blames THE GOAL. When the blame lies with THE INDIVIDUAL and the HOW they’re using now.

Change your thinking, change your HOW, and I’ll see you in Hawaii!

>3 The Top Performance Question  Simply this…What if, top performance, high achievement, a better life, financial freedom, and most anything else you wanted were as simple as READING, LISTENING, and WRITING?

The Department of Labor once in a study called it INFORMAL education. Saying that over 70% of learning happens because of it. I call it PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT: From The Strangest Secret and Think and Grow Rich, to the next modern-day best-seller. It’s so much more than SELF HELP.

Become a good student (you don’t have to be in school) and you’ll begin to understand the value of these 3 keys that have made up such a big part of any extraordinary individual.

>4 The EXPERIENCE Question (Also called the SECOND GRADE question) Seems everyone today wants to trumpet their years of EXPERIENCE, in essence how long they’ve been doing something. Which is usually a clue as to how long THEY HAVEN’T DONE ANYTHING (learned anything) NEW! Ugghhh…

Here’s the next question, if my doctor has 25 years of EXPERIENCE doing the kind of surgery I’m about to go in for, “Do I want that doctor operating on me with the same tools, training, and techniques he was using in 1985?” Right, and the marketplace doesn’t want you operating on them with what you knew once upon a time.

Get back to the future and get better at bringing VALUE. The marketplace will notice and write you bigger checks. Just ask my doctor.

>5 The Good to Great Question  If you haven’t read this book, WHY NOT? I believe it should be required reading for anyone in business. And isn’t that all of us? At least the first 15 or so pages. The essence of this book and what Collins calls “transcending the curse of competence” begins with the question

“What is it YOU DO (potentially) better than anyone else in the marketplace?” That’s it. Ask that question and go to work on the answer. It’s better than good, it’s the path to greatness.

>6 The Worst Question in Retail “Can I Help You?” We’ve all heard it, many have asked it and much like any attorney worth his salt, all know the answer before we ask. This question is WORTHLESS and blocks the path in the direction of even assisting the prospective buyer. Get rid of this question.

>7 The Worst Question in Hospitality  Again, we’ve all heard it. Leaving a hotel, restaurant, or another establishment where we could have (or did) spend our money for goods or services. The question? “Was everything OK?”

Was everything OK? Is that what you’re shooting for? To be on the cutting edge of OK service? Why not just ask me “We’re not the WORST PLACE you’ve ever eaten are we?” Because that’s what this “fingernails on the chalkboard” question sounds like to me. Set the bar higher than just OK, and then find the questions to help you get there. How? (next please…)

>8 The Best Question in Hospitality  The Chart House, Jacksonville, Florida. That’s where I was first asked this question and I’ve spoken about it in dozens of our COOL $chool sessions and with selling organizations over the years.

After an amazing meal, excellent service, and a desert we ordered specially for us BEFORE we ordered our entrees (at my server’s suggestion), on the way out the door a smartly dressed lady who could have been the GM, or just a GM in the making, asked me “Was there any ONE THING that we could have done to make your dining experience more memorable?”

Bang! You just did, hands down the best UNCOMMON question I’ve ever been asked leaving a restaurant and one that separates them from all the “just OKs.”

>9 The Las Vegas Question  Again my label on a question I ask in almost all of my business presentations and keynotes. “If Your Business Closed Tomorrow…Would Anyone NOTICE (or care)? While Las Vegas leaves the lights on all night long and blows up the old to build newer, bigger, and more extravagant giant casinos and hotels; another roadside motel is closing today.

Will anyone notice? Probably not. At least very few will notice, largely because they’re providing little value to too few customers, and (biggest reason) there are plenty of others who do what they do. If we can find lots of other (blanks) who do what you do…next question (this might sting a bit) WHY DO WE NEED YOU?

>10 The Happy Customers Question  The Happy Customers question is from a story that became one of the most-read, and responded-to columns I’ve ever written. It basically comes down to 2 things. They are: (1) If you can give the customer (or prospective buyer) what they’re asking for (sometimes over and over),  (2) WHY NOT DO IT? If you can’t sleep tonight wondering about that column and the story, just email me at [email protected] and I’ll send it to you.

>1. (Bonus question) What NOW? 

Welcome to The NOW Economy, the most sophisticated marketplace the world has ever known…HOW WILL YOU WIN? Great question. Sharpen your better questions and go to work on the answers that can radically change your results. Better questions are where all the answers lie. The treasure is buried right in your backyard. And it’s tough digging for it a spoonful at a time.

Here’s to Your Big Life,


Michael York wrote the book on Becoming Uncommon (2003).

In 2009 he was named The International Business Coach of the Year.

He is a business owner, author, entrepreneur, consultant, coach,

2 and professional speaker and has delivered “critical messages” on personal and professional development to over 1000 live audiences since 2001. His columns have appeared in The Network Marketing Magazine since 2007.

**EDITORS’ NOTE: Michael’s latest book Becoming Uncommon: Twenty Years Later is available at 


Michael York
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