• David de Souza

The Book of Beautiful Questions Summary



The biggest takeaway from this book was just 3 words:"...and what else?" - As a follow-up question, these 3 words can break through our trite tendencies to say the first thing on the top of our mind and to help us go beyond the obvious answers.

Want to dig deeper than the core principles? Check out my notes in Roam Research.:



Core Principles:


I have summarized 'The Book of Beautiful Questions', distilling the book into 12 core principles:

  1. If you ask more questions you become more likable.

  2. Daniel Kahneman found that "people who face a difficult question, often answer an easier one instead."

  3. Ask Don't Sell - People put up their defenses when they think you are trying to sell them something. When you ask questions you build a relationship.

  4. The Journalist Mindset - Before going to a gathering tell yourself: I am going to go to this event as a journalist, looking for stories about the people I meet.

  5. Scientific studies do not support following your gut instincts. You will be wrong more than you are right.

  6. We are happier when we make bolder choices. Steven Levitt conducted a study using people who were in the process of making a difficult decision. These people agreed to use a coin flip to decide if they would go ahead with their decision, if it landed heads they would say "yes". 6 months later he found that the "yes/heads" people were significantly happier than the "no/tails" people. When left to our devices we are too risk-averse and say no too often.

  7. To overcome our risk aversion tendency: (instead of using a coin) use a weighted question: If I am usually better off saying yes to bold opportunities, why wouldn't I say yes to this one?

  8. We are too short-termist in our thinking. To overcome this ask yourself: Which decision will make for a better story in 5 years?

  9. To become a better listener ask: (1) "Just to make sure I am understanding, are you saying...." (2) "Can I try and explain what I think your position is- and then you can do the same for me? Because until we can accurately present one another's arguments, we do not know what the other is saying" (3) Repeat back a few words that the person has said in the form of a question.

  10. Asking: "And what else?"... encourages people to think more and go beyond the obvious answers.

  11. Jeff Bezos says 'if you have a conviction....even if there is no consensus say: "Look, I know we disagree on this but will you gamble with me on it? [can we disagree and commit?]

  12. 6 Ways to Improve a question: (i) Open Your Question - Use What/Why/How (i) Close Your Question - to help reduce faulty assumptions. (iii) Make it more precise (iv) Add a "Why?" to the end of it (v) Soften it - "I'm curious to know..." (vi) Make it less leading




The 80/20 of Worldly Wisdom: