David speaks with Joe Ferraro, a teacher, professional speaker, and the host of The One Percent Better Podcast, where he’s interviewed some of the world's most successful people. He is also the founder of DamnGoodConversations.com, a company whose mission is to teach repeatable ways to have the best conversations in your life and work.

They talked about:

🎧 Joe as a one-man team podcaster

⚾️ Life lessons from baseball

πŸ… The common ground between sports coaching and fatherhood

πŸ’¬ The reward of having great conversations

🧠 The power of curiosity in conversations

❓ The best question that Joe has ever asked

πŸŽ™ Listen to your favourite podcast player

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πŸ“„ Show notes:

[00:00] Introduction

[02:30] Joe as a solo podcaster

[03:47] The spark that made Joe want to start a podcast

[06:21] The story of growing up aggressively curious

[08:44] Sporting life of Joe on the baseball field

[10:25] Lessons from having a close relationship with his dad

[12:35] The sparks that led Joe to coach

[14:12] The importance of asking good questions

[18:03] Lessons learned from Joe's podcasts

[20:47] Reading without action is useless

[24:30] The benefit of meaningful conversations

[27:48] The importance of being curious in conversations

[30:08] Asking the right questions

[32:40] The value of being interested in others

[34:29] Joe's most memorable question

πŸ—£ Mentioned in the show:

Malcolm Gladwell | https://www.gladwellbooks.com/

Outliers: The Story of Success | https://amzn.to/4chjh8T

D1 Training | https://www.d1training.com/

American Legion | http://www.legion.org/

VHS | https://sites.google.com/venturaedu.org/vhsathletics/about

One Percent Better Podcast | https://www.onepercentbetterproject.com/

KDWB-FM | https://kdwb.iheart.com/

James Clear | https://jamesclear.com/

Seth Godin | https://seths.blog/

Atomic Habits | https://amzn.to/3KoufgK

Larry King | https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Larry_King

Frank Sinatra | https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Sinatra

Jackie Gleason | https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jackie_Gleason

Jackie Robinson | https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jackie_Robinson

Uber | http://www.uber.com/

Airbnb | http://www.airbnb.com/

Oscar Trimboli | https://www.oscartrimboli.com/

Roy Firestone | http://www.royfirestone.com/

ESPN | https://www.espn.com/watch/

Up Close | https://www.espn.com/tvlistings/programs/upclose.html

Jerry Maguire | https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0116695/

Cuba Gooding Jr. | https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cuba_Gooding_Jr.

Ansel Adams | https://www.anseladams.com/

Laura Gassner Otting | https://www.lauragassnerotting.com/

Firestone | https://www.firestone.com/

Full episode transcript below

πŸ‘€Connect with Joe:

Twitter: https://x.com/ferraroonair?lang=en

Podcast: One Percent Better | https://www.onepercentbetterproject.com/

Blog: DamnGoodConversations.com

πŸ‘¨πŸΎβ€πŸ’» About David Elikwu:

David Elikwu FRSA is a serial entrepreneur, strategist, and writer. David is the founder of The Knowledge, a platform helping people think deeper and work smarter.

🐣 Twitter: @Delikwu / @itstheknowledge

🌐 Website: https://www.davidelikwu.com

πŸ“½οΈ Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/davidelikwu

πŸ“Έ Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/delikwu/

πŸ•Ί TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@delikwu

πŸŽ™οΈ Podcast: http://plnk.to/theknowledge

πŸ“– Free Book: https://pro.theknowledge.io/frames

My Online Course

πŸ–₯️ Decision Hacker: http://www.decisionhacker.io/

Decision Hacker will help you hack your default patterns and become an intentional architect of your life. You’ll learn everything you need to transform your decisions, your habits, and your outcomes.

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πŸ“© Newsletter: https://theknowledge.io

The Knowledge is a weekly newsletter for people who want to get more out of life. It's full of insights from psychology, philosophy, productivity, and business, all designed to make you more productive, creative, and decisive.

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πŸ“œFull transcript:


Joe: [00:00:00] You think that because you have a quote unquote, famous person on the show, the show's viral the next day. You know, you get James Clear you're on episode 62, now I'm famous. Nope.

You get invited to a speaking engagement, five episodes in. I'm a public speaker for life here comes every recurring income ever. Nope.

Those types of things, they don't happen, but you realize you start it for a different reason. You didn't start it to be famous, to have 10 million downloads, all things like that. So that's one like big meta thing.

Speaker: This week, I'm coming to you from a slightly different location. So if you're watching this, you might be able to see that I'm actually in China. And if you're listening to this, I will humbly beg your forgiveness for any background noise that you hear in the audio.

But this week, I'm excited to share part of my conversation with Joe Ferrara, who is a teacher of over 20 years. He's a speaker and a coach. He's also the host of the One Percent Better podcast, which is a podcast that I personally [00:01:00] love and have been listening to for a very long time. I'd highly recommend it. I was actually on the Metro here in China, in Shanghai a few days ago, listening to one of Joe's most recent episodes.

And Joe is a master of great conversations. And so you're going to hear us in this part, talking about. First of all, Joe's experience being a one man band as a podcaster.

We talk about his life lessons from his baseball days and his continued fandom of baseball. We talk about the parallels between coaching and fatherhood as well as what his experience was like having a coach for a dad. His dad happened to be his baseball coach back in the day.

Then we talk about the rewards that you get from having great conversations, some practical steps on how you can improve the quality of conversations that you have, the power of curiosity, being able to ask high velocity questions.

There's a ton we're going to unpack in this and we end on the best question that Joe has ever asked on a podcast.

So you can get the full show notes, the [00:02:00] transcripts and read my newsletter at theknowledge.io and you can find Joe on Twitter @ferraroonair and his podcast is the One Percent Better podcast. I'll have all the links in the description below.

Now, one final thing. If you love this episode, please do share it with a friend and don't forget to leave a review wherever you listen to podcasts because it helps us so, so much to improve the podcast, find better guests and find other listeners just like you.

Joe as a solo podcaster

David: There's a lot of pieces to cobble together. I'm interested to know how do you find running your podcast actually?

Joe: I'm a one man team. I don't say that as a badge of honor, right? Like I invested in headshots. Let's talk about aesthetics. I don't know, a year and a half ago, and I just never regretted it for a second, even though I could, I tend to be self-conscious about my appearance. When you asked for headshots, I was able to send you a few, right. And I knew you were someone who values promo materials and in a certain aesthetic and a keen decision. So it just kind of took something off the table. [00:03:00]

A lot of running my podcast is about removing obstacles and excuses. So once upon a time, I almost didn't launch the podcast. Once I found out that there was a $7 a month fee to host it, right. I said, I thought it was free. If it's seven a month, I'm out. And my friend looked at me like with absolute disgust.

So a series of pieces like that, where I'm like, well, okay, if I'm spending that much on coffee and if I have the headshots and if I have the logo. And so now when I'm coaching clients and people who are launching podcasts, that's a lot of what we do try to remove, right? Like the old Michelangelo, he's got the block of clay and you just remove it to reveal the statue of David. And, you know, my podcast is far from the statue of David, but there is that part of it where I'm chopping away so that we can get to the good stuff.

The spark that made Joe want to start a podcast

David: That's a really interesting analogy. I actually love that. What was the spark that made you want to start the podcast?

Like I know you had the coaching part of your background, but I think there's also this jump between maybe [00:04:00] analog and digital that a lot of people struggle with. And I know you touched on that slightly, but there's people that can do things physically, person to person, and they're great at kind of contact, and they like to keep things in that format. And then there are some people that may be only gravitate towards doing things online and they wouldn't necessarily be comfortable doing things shared. And you have this balance of, okay, on one hand, you're a teacher, you're in classrooms full of people. And then you do this coaching. One form of coaching, I guess, would be coaching teams. I know you did some baseball coaching. I'm not sure if you're still doing that, but then also coaching people and coaching people on how to, how to speak and how to do other things.

So what made you decide to bring that world online?

Joe: I think the podcast genre was just about built for my sensibilities. I interviewed my parents with a fist, that was my microphone. And maybe there was, you know, if we deep dove into psychology, maybe there was a bit of attention gathering, right. I was the oldest of three, so I didn't really feel like I was, you know, hurting for attention, but I mean, the minute you do this [00:05:00] and someone's face, how'd you feel about that coffee?

And then we'd have a wiffle ball game at my, my grandmother's house. And I would, and this is real. I mean, I'd be in the game. I was pretty decent at wiffle ball but I would run up to my aunt and I would say you just drove in the winning run at the Clumubage family party, talk about it. And then I would be interviewed at a local little league game after a good game. And I would find the questions good or interesting, or maybe even a little trite, and then I would do that. And then my younger brother or sister had a penguin, which I feel like would have been a hit, this toy could be re-released. It had a recording box inside its stomach. You could unzip the penguin and it would record up to 10 seconds. So then you would, you had talked to the penguin and you would play it and the penguin would repeat back your voice to me, like when I trace it back, that's a part of a podcast. Like you're recording your thoughts and you're playing them for an audience.

So when it came time to go to high school, I would do some broadcasting on a table with my friend because to impress our friends on the basketball team. College, we would do it with the women's basketball team on the radio station. And then when I found out about this idea of podcasting, the only thing I didn't like [00:06:00] about it was the name. You know, I still don't know if it's a great name, a podcast confuses people. And I feel like it separates people from two different places. Like I don't know what it is and I don't want to get into it.

I just try to tell people it's a radio show on demand. So, you know, those are some broad strokes that kind of give some color to how I've thought about it. And as we go on and talk, I'm happy to go into any of those nooks and crannies.

The story of growing up aggressively curious

David: Yeah, sure. I'd love to pull on some of those threads. I know something you've talked about in the past is being that people have referred to you as someone who is aggressively curious. And I think that filtered through in some of the stories that you just shared.

I guess I have two questions. One, is that something that you have always found to be something that was consistent and just innate to you?

And how do you think that was maybe cultivated in your upbringing? It sounds like were your parents and family quite supportive of that? Was that something that was actively nurtured or was it something that you just kept putting your foot in throughout your life?

Joe: Very interesting to think back on that. I definitely would say I'll plead guilty to aggressively curious, but to do that, you have to go to the other side, which can be a [00:07:00] little bit annoying, right? You can get the it's too much now too many questions. I don't tend to believe that, but as a parent, we've all been in that place where it's like, okay, like we've pulled on this thread enough. Like you don't have to investigate everything.

But I look back and I asked my dad a ton of sports questions. You know, almost every question from my dad was either sports or food and to this, to this day those are big threads in my life. Now it's funny, I would always ask unusual questions though. I would ask my dad things like if the guy is sliding into second base and the tag gets applied, but then when he sweeps the tag, the ball goes flying into the outfield. But before it hits the ground, the outfielder catches it. Shouldn't he still be out at second, just like a wide receiver when they catch a ball and it gets bottled and someone else catches it and he would just be like, no, like, he didn't have the ball, you know, he would go into it. He would indulge me. And I think until he went away to work for the day he would indulge me.

My mom was an expert storyteller, still is. Sits at the kitchen table with a coffee and entertains people really generous of spirit and of deed. So I think that, that worked [00:08:00] well. I don't ever have any memories though. Like I can't sit here and tell you, like, I remember mom and dad being like, you are curious, keep that up. It's a good thing. Which sounds weird when you say it out loud. But the reality is like, I do say that explicitly to my kids now, like we talk about curiosity as a vital tool and we encourage it.

So I guess everything's like one generation, right? Like Gladwell wrote about how a lot of the Jewish immigrants, you know, they were tailors and then their kids became lawyers because they saw the fruits of the hard work. But you could do things with your mind, et cetera. I think that happens when we raise kids, my parents were passively encouraging the curiosity. My wife and I now are actively, and I don't know which one works better, but we're definitely doing it.

Sporting life of Joe on the baseball field

David: Okay. I want to put a pin in the topic of the lessons that you teach to your kids, both your personal kids, and also the kids in your classroom. And I want to go down the line of something you mentioned just a moment ago, which is sports. And it seems like you've [00:09:00] always had this interest in sports. Sports has always been a part of your life, particularly baseball.

And I'm really interested in that part of your life and your career as well. Because from what I understand, you must've been really good at baseball because you went to play D1 at college or university. And for those that are not from the US or people that are listening from anywhere else in the world, that is like the highest level of collegiate athletics or collegiate sports.

We don't necessarily have the same system in the UK. I don't think we take sports as seriously, but you have like D1, D2, D3, I'm not sure what's below that but it's hard. It's hard to play at that level.

Joe: You're on it.

Nah, I enjoyed it. I put a lot of time into it. I wanted to hear where you're going to go next. Cause you may, you may make me sound better when you said I was even on some kind of team go for it.

David: Yeah. You on the, was it the '96 national team?

Joe: I'm impressed. Yeah. National champions, American Legion. We were the best team out of 5,000 or so amateur teams, footnote to [00:10:00] that was my dad was the assistant coach. So we actually have the moment on VHS where we hugged at the pitcher's mound, as the announcers circled up and talked about it. So I spent a lot of time, David with baseball. There was no doubt about it. I watched a lot of college football, a lot of college basketball at the time, this recorded, you know, division one has some range, just like anything else. I'm not going to sit here and tell you that I played it the best of the best division one.

But, yeah, it was, it was a big passion of mine. And I went on to coach it and spend a lot of time with it.

Lessons from having a close relationship with his dad

David: I didn't know that your dad was the coach. What did your dad teach you about coaching? Or what do you think you learned from maybe having that close relationship with your dad where you're both playing or both involved with the sport at the same time.

Joe: One of the things I didn't mention earlier when we were talking about actively or passively encouraging the curiosity is my dad is not a big talker. If you called on the phone to reach me during my high school years, the conversation would be, my dad would pick up the phone like, Hello? No. That was the entire conversation. And you don't know, you were just left, like wondering what they asked. Like, can Joe come to the phone? Is he available? Are you [00:11:00] eating dinner?

My mom was the gregarious one. So, I got to believe that there's a direct line between how do I get dad to talk? Well, I hit a baseball, you know, I asked him questions about, what his softball days were like? I can tell you stories about his playing days, which, you know, had much more adversity than me getting cut from teams and not having the opportunity and just playing nonstop and his parents not being in any way supportive of it. You want to play baseball? Go play baseball. We're, we're going to be working. You can get there like so totally different piece of that.

So I think, that part of it is interesting. The other part that I'd want to mention is on Episode 150 of One Percent Better. I had my dad on and, I think I even say it in the intro after I edited, I say, you know, what was it like coaching your son? A lot of people say, it's incredibly difficult and before I can get the word difficult out, he jumped in on the mic and said easiest thing I've ever done. And it actually choked me up in the moment. I remember being choked up in the moment we're sitting in my own house and, we had these two mics set [00:12:00] up and easiest thing. Everyone criticizes parents coaching their kids and stay away from that. And the politics involved. And he went on to compliment and his relationship with me. And, you know, we butted heads at times, but, he would look at you and he would think like, I know what you're capable of. Cause I see you every day and you're not delivering it here. So why aren't you getting those hits? And you'd be like, dad, I'm trying, like, he'd be like, oh, but it was never anything like you read in the stories in the movies. I mean, it really solidified our relationship, you know, that's the cleanest way I could put it. I mean, that was our bond. Everyone tries to find a bond over whatever it is and that with some great family dinners was, was our bond.

The sparks that led Joe to coach

David: That's amazing. And do you think that was maybe one of the sparks that led you to coaching for yourself?

Joe: Oh yeah. Yeah. because you see, we would have, you know, there's an interesting line that almost sounds like I'm making it up, but like there's an interesting line towards conversation, right? Like we would then have a discussion about the game and I would say, well, why do you think coach did that? And he would say, well, what do you think if you would have done this? Or a lot of times my dad was the assistant [00:13:00] coach, right. So he kind of was in an interesting role where we could kind of observe and he would do all-star teams and then we'd have a little more insight. I was like that too, because I would know ahead of time, the starting lineup. And I was good enough to where, it wasn't like one of those awkward, like Joe's playing because he's Joe's son, you know, so it was like we had that safety net. But then it would be cool, cause he'd be like, I'm going to probably start Jason tomorrow, don't say anything. And I would have like that insight, right. Which is like, no confidentiality agreement signed, just kind of like, oh, okay. And then I could be like, well, it's interesting dad. It's none of my business, but are you thinking about playing him left field or right field? And a lot of the cyclical nature was really appealing to me. Play the game, talk about the game. Game tomorrow, what about the travel? Oh, we're going there. There's a great deli on the way there. Like it all kind of wrapped together for us and it made a, it made it beautiful.

Now right now, my son's not very into sports, but we still try to find those bonds through the food and he picked up Rec basketball. And I think that that's been something really cool, even though he's not incredibly skilled at it, he's loving it. And it's just [00:14:00] providing those same types of things. Like just this week out there dribbling the basketball with him it's a great, I mean, I, I guess I never realized this as a parent. It's just a great excuse to have a conversation at the end of the day.

The importance of asking good questions

David: That's a super big point that you're touching on because that links to one of the main talking points that you have. And one of the things that you spend a lot of your creative time on, which is about one, having great conversations and also, two, asking great questions.

And I'm really interested in the connection between coaching and sports and also asking questions, because I think they are incredibly interlinked. And maybe in some ways it's quite natural that you came to the position that you are, because maybe you can speak more to this, but what do you think is the importance of being able to ask good questions within the realm of sports and within the realm of coaching?


Joe: Well, first it starts with asking bad questions, I think. You know, if you're not comfortable, if someone's listening and is not comfortable asking good questions or that paralyzes them, just like good writing starts with bad first drafts. I think it's very powerful to just free yourself up and say, I don't ask a lot of questions. Let me ask two more questions a day and start really basic.

Now, someone listening to your show might be a little bit more curious than the average person might be asking a lot of questions. Then I find that that improving the [00:16:00] quality of the questions matters a great deal. If we think about that in two places, one is on a podcast and one is in sports. I think the difference between a good question and a bad question can be the difference between the pupil or the listener learning something life changing. I really do. I mean, I think on the pitch or on the field, it's these quick hitting questions, but they have to be clear. So there's no time for confusion, right? You're in the middle of a live game.

Think of basketball or soccer. I think you get into a situation or I should say football in this case, but, you get to a situation where you don't have time. It's fluid, it's moving. You can't ask a long and windy low velocity question. You got to ask something pointed and quick, you got to get information. You hopefully want something that's more than yes or no. And I think that that can unlock something for an athlete really quickly.

On a podcast conversation, it's tricky. I've been studying it for a long time now. And you know, if I look at hosts, oftentimes they will ask questions that begin with the word do D O, they will give multiple choice questions, which I don't favor in general. But I think [00:17:00] a lot of us are getting false information, right? Because someone as seasoned as you. And hopefully as me, we can run with any question, right? If you say to me, do you like coaching or playing better? You've given me two choices and you've really given me a close answer, but listeners can already tell, I'm not going to just give you an, a one word answer. We're seasoned enough in the media to know what you're getting at.

But what I would argue for people that aren't on podcasts or that are just getting started on podcasts, just really workshopping questions like that, not to paralyze someone and say, Oh, my God, if I don't ask the right eight words. But just to open it up, like you do so beautifully. What is it that you love about, or draw a line between, or connect the dots like these ways that you invite, it's the best verb I could use. You invite your guests to speak and a do, and a multiple choice doesn't invite it.

Now, there are times for that in sports, right? Hey, do you like it better left or right? Left, go. But for the most part, we're trying to invite and draw out and uncover some insight [00:18:00] from people. And it's one of the reasons I've really been loving your show.

Lessons learned from Joe's podcasts

David: Oh, thank you. And you've had, you've had a lot of experience with podcasting with speaking, with running One Percent Better, which is the podcast that you are a host of. And I think you also host a baseball podcast. I don't know if that's a constant thing or an

Joe: I did. Yeah, that's that's we, we paused that. But we did a 85 to 95 episodes with a co-host that was called KDWB radio. So if people wanted to do a deep dive, it's still out there.

David: Yeah. But in total, that is a huge number of podcast episodes. Obviously, there's a lot that you've learned and you talk a lot about the things that you've learned and we can get into that, but I'm perhaps interested to know something that you may have learned that was unexpected or unconventional.

Is there something that you learned through the experience of just so many reps that was perhaps counter-intuitive or that was genuinely new to you at the time that you discovered it?

Joe: I think there's a bunch that, that start bubbling up. Some short strokes would be like, you think that because you have a quote unquote, famous person on the show, the show's [00:19:00] viral the next day. You know, you get James Clear you're on episode 62, now I'm famous. Nope. You get invited to a speaking engagement, five episodes in. I'm a public speaker for life here comes every recurring income ever. Nope.

Those types of things, they don't happen, but you realize you start it for a different reason. You didn't start it to be famous, to have 10 million downloads, things like that. So that's one like big meta thing. I think it's probably been done before and shared before, but it's worth repeating.

You cannot wait for the perfect time. You know, Seth Godin will say ship it. Others will say build in public. Some will say start before you're ready. It just could not be more true. I mean, someone's listening to this right now and they're going, I know I want to start something, but I don't. I got to wait until no, no, no, you have to start because if you don't start, it's just harder and harder and harder and harder to do.

So I think that lesson is worth underlining and I think maybe a final one that I'll share. I don't know if I anticipated the direct and quick implementation [00:20:00] of the ideas I get. So if I learn something on a podcast, I'm putting it into my classroom tomorrow, if appropriate, I'm not waiting until next school year. If I learn something on a podcast a little while ago, I shared with you an example of that do, and either, or question, I heard that last week while I was studying a podcast, interviewing people about interviewing, and I immediately share that with you. I don't wait. I don't put it into a journal that I go back to in 30 years.

So I think I underestimated the immediacy it would have at least from my learning style or my preferred way of learning that I could just make it so much more practical. So as if only 10 people listened to the show, because of the way it's resonates with me, the audio medium, it just has an incredible exponential factor for me to do. So that, I think I maybe underestimated when I first started.

Reading without action is useless

David: And I think it touches on something I think you've mentioned in the past and it's definitely intuitive or not intuitive, but it definitely means something to me, which is, I think you shared some advice that you got, which is essentially that [00:21:00] reading without action is useless.

And that resonates with me so much because, so for example, what you were just saying made me think about, so I read a lot, but I think what makes my reading useful is the fact that I also write. I force myself to write every day, and also every week. I share writing every week and I write for myself every day. And that is almost the crucible for thinking, and that helps me to think better and improves my thinking. And I'm sure for you in a similar way, having this podcast that you've been running for years and years now, where you're having these conversations every week, one, it's almost like there's a velocity from being on this treadmill where you're having these engaging conversations, conversation after conversation with really interesting people, you're picking up things, you're putting out things into the next conversation, and then you also have these other avenues that you can share.

So one is within your podcast, but then also with your class and your kids at home. And there's all these other avenues that you can use to put out some of what you're learning and maybe also get feedback, because I'm sure that you're going to get some interesting [00:22:00] responses about how people respond and interact with the things that you're sharing.

Joe: Oh, Yeah. And it's reading without action is useless, is a, you did some beautiful digging there to get that one. That was, that was like the ultimate last line from a mentor, I kept asking him questions about launching the podcast. And I said, can you give me a book recommendation? And he said, sure, I'll give you one more, but then reading without action.

Now for people who immediately hear that and go, ooh, I don't like that. Reading is its own reward. I'll just offer this. We can define action a little differently, right? I mean, in a recent episode, I had a, I was discussing someone I found in my life that I'm calling a reverse mentor. Someone who's much younger than me, much less experienced than me, but teaching me incredible amounts about teaching. And I sought her out. Well, we had just this this like nerd chat the other day, where we were talking about creation. It's supposed to be the highest form of like creativity or learning like kids are taking in content and then ultimately create their own is supposed to be the best. But she had posited that potentially, intentional and thoughtful [00:23:00] consumption would be higher than mindless creation.

So if you're going to put out a podcast with no effort, no aesthetic, no whatever. It'd be interesting to know, like that might not be as valuable as really thoughtful reading with notes and then ability to put it into a conversation. The podcast is a bad example in the scenario, because I just think it has its own rewards, but potentially, you know, certain type of creative work would not be as valuable as consumption, but ultimately doing something with the reading, right.

Even in a basic lesson, in an English class, let's read it and let's do something with it. Like that's a good framework for a lesson. Like okay, give them something provocative to read and think about, and now let's do something that demonstrates our thinking. So I'm definitely tracking with what you're saying there.

David: Yeah. And I think part of the reason that the podcast is a bad example of that, you know, following from what you were saying is the fact that it's a conversation. And I think that is almost the perfect format by which you can practice ideas and digest ideas because you can share them. [00:24:00] And I think there's something unique in that exchange with another person that develops your thinking that maybe it conflicts with what you're thinking that really challenges you to think in different ways

And you share so much about, you know, having good conversations, and without narrowing you down too much. I want to ask just on a very basic level. Cause I think some people can hear that and not understand the value there and not understand the promise of what it is that you are trying to get to.

The benefit of meaningful conversations

David: So what in your mind is the destination of that? Like what do you actually get out of having great conversations? What changes there? What's the, the transformation that happens when you go from just passively having the normal conversations that you have, day-to-day going about your life, speaking to people and maybe intentionally putting some of these tools that you talk about into practice and we can get into what those are.

Joe: I feel like when to use James Clear again, as an example, when he talked about Atomic Habits, that word atomic comes to my mind now. [00:25:00] I feel like, I'll be fundamentally changed after this very conversation because you and I will now have a friendship of sorts and certainly a professional respect, and I'll be tracking your work and you'll be tracking mine a little bit. And inevitably someone will be so kind to email me that they heard on this podcast. And now just from a molecular level, things have changed. As a major tool of great conversations, I just think when you ask better questions, you have better conversations, which is simplistic and true, but it also gives you the ability to be about three inches taller.

I think you walk through life with almost like, you know, I joke with my students, I'll make up a name, Mr. Adams, you know, you don't want, you don't want to fight Mr. Adams. And they're like, why would I want to fight Mr. Adams? Like I'm saying you don't want to fight him. And you have an idea of why but like he's strong? I'm like, no, he's strong, fine, but like he knows about four or five different martial arts. They're like really? I'm like, yeah, like you don't want to fight someone who has all of those tools in the bag. If you are just a puncher, great. If you're a kicker, great. But if you can do Krav Maga [00:26:00] and other things I can't pronounce, it's probably not a great matchup.

And I think if you are versed in the skills of conversation and question asking, you just kind of walk through life that way, you're just like, well, even if you take Larry King's perspective, he used to say, like I heard this morning, he said, I tried to ask dumb questions, questions that weren't from an intellectual standpoint, just why'd you do that? Tell me about that. And even that, I think his style allowed him to be able to interact with Frank Sinatra and Jackie Gleason and Jackie Robinson and all these different people, because he was curious, because he was able to ask questions, because he was versed in conversation. So those are two ways that it really works well.

And then I think just connecting with another person being present, I've often said that, a lot of people want to have podcasts that feel like everyday conversations. I believe in the inverse, I believe putting these on and using this quite literally lifts the conversation. And I want more everyday conversations to feel like podcasts, a [00:27:00] slightly heightened form of reality.

David: And in practice, what does that look like? Does that sound in my mind, maybe that sounding a bit

Joe: Like this, it sounds like this.

David: Socratic debates.

Joe: It sounds like this, man. It sounds like a curious, you know, human being inviting me, showing super amounts of respect that you know, I just feel really touched by and, and just the ability to go anywhere, right. So if I pause now and let you pick up, you pick up, right. It's not a ping pong match. You just, you know, I kind of cut you off with a compliment there but that's what it sounds like, right. There's give and take and you know, what I like to underline for people is, if we do this conversation tomorrow, it may be better. It may be worse, but it will most certainly be different. We will not be able to recalibrate this. You could send me a transcript of this conversation. We won't be able to recreate it. And I love that about conversations.

The importance of being curious in conversations

David: I agree. And I think you touched on something important, which is that I think not enough people spend enough time being curious about the people that they are around and the people they interact with. [00:28:00] And it's so interesting, to be honest, it's not that I want to have a conversation all the time. I'm even thinking about sometimes you get into the back of an Uber and you're tired and it's 10:30 at night and you just want to get home. Okay, fine. That's okay.

But simultaneously some of the best conversations I've had have been with people that I've never seen again, I'm thinking of I was in Bosnia and actually okay, two conversations. I was traveling around the Balkans for a little bit. And at one point I was in Bosnia. I spoke to the guy that was a taxi driver that was driving me to the airport. And then another time I was in North Macedonia and there was a guy that was driving me from the airport to my Airbnb. And both of those conversations were so interesting because in that alone, I learned more than all the research that I'd done before the trip about the politics of the country and what's going on and how people think, and you learn things that are so different and really counteract some of your preconceptions about, what life might be like and what different people think.

And as an example, so the UK was previously part of the EU and we had this [00:29:00] whole Brexit thing about wanting to leave the EU and sovereignty and this and that. And typically we think of the free movement within the EU as a good thing. And I think it is, but usually we're thinking of that because we are the highly mobile people that get to travel and we are the ones that get to move. And we are the ones that get to go around and go to all these different countries, and then we can come home, and it's fun, and we can do that. But hearing the perspective from some other people, for example. So he was talking about North Macedonia joining the EU, North Macedonia used to be called Macedonia. And somehow by joining the EU, they had to change the name of the country and they had to change a bunch of things. And then all the smart people left because now they have free movement and they can go to any other country in the EU. And if your country is not as well developed, you don't have all the resources. Why won't you go somewhere else? And so you have a bit of a brain drain, you have a new name, you have all of these things and you also have to pay to be part of the EU.

So it was just really eye opening to, in the span of maybe like 10 minutes, a really short drive, just having this enlightening moment where I'm learning [00:30:00] an entirely different perspective about something that I might have previously thought was just basic. You know, why wouldn't it be good to just be able to move freely between countries.

Asking the right questions

Joe: It's perfect. I mean, first of all, the cab driver, the Uber driver example works really well because one of the things I do when I work with a client right away is I have them do a little bit of a self-examination, a little reflection, maybe even an audit on how they ask questions. Like when you show up in the world, like, what is your question? The second part is the framework of, what's your philosophy? But the first part is like, do you ask a lot of questions? Just basically, do you ask a lot of questions or do you prefer not to?

Once you start there, think about the cab driver, right? Like if you're not going to engage, then don't engage, you know, put your headphones on and don't engage. But if you are going to engage, ask the questions from a place of curiosity, really listen which is the crucial part to any conversation. And then begin to slowly over time, ask better and better, more clear and more fresh, more unique questions. [00:31:00] And then you see that you open up a world of information like you just got. Now for someone who says, I want to be better at asking questions, a great place to start is to say, what do you do typically in the back of a cab? Well, I'm tired and I don't want to engage. Okay, so when do you engage? Well, I don't really like not with strangers. And then all of a sudden we start to uncover some patterns, the person that we're painting here in this picture, doesn't like to ask a lot of questions to people that they don't know. I understand that. But there's a direct link with curiosity there, right.

Now, you'd have to find the curiosity somewhere, I hope. But you're really demonstrating this mythical avatar that we're creating. They're demonstrating someone that doesn't ask a lot of questions. And you know, one final point on that is I always like to give a practical example. If you're in an Uber going to a new city and you're looking for a great place to eat, you can say, Hey, what's a good restaurant around here? And the cab driver will tell you probably something that every other tourist has been told, right? You'll get the exact same answer probably out of a grab bag of three things. And you move on with your day and you don't even realize you're none the wiser. But the thing is, if you would have just asked the [00:32:00] question a little differently, if you would have said, what's a great restaurant around here that no one knows about? You're eating at the greatest place. What's one that's not a tourist trap? What's one that you never tell people, cause you don't want to, you don't want it to get too crowded? The person's not going to say, well, I can't tell you that. They're going to say, actually, it's Molly, Yolanda's down the street. And all of a sudden now you've transformed quite literally transformed your experience because your question was better.

That's one of the main, like stakes in the ground that I put in. And I say, if you ask a better question, you will have a better experience. And it's just an incredible, it's an incredible way, David, to walk through life, knowing you can curate your own experience through words like it's, it's wild at times.

The value of being interested in others

David: Absolutely. And it's one of those surprising things that. I think people take for granted. And it's a combination of it's one, it's the asking of the questions. And two is maybe just engaging in conversations. And three, I think is just genuinely being curious about people and being interested in people.

And one thing that I've found. So I used to work in corporate law and there's a coffee [00:33:00] place downstairs at the bottom of my building. And I almost never paid for a coffee there because there's this guy that I would just ask about his life and his family, and not because I wanted free coffee, but because I was interested. And it's so interesting how you can start to build some of these relationships, just very nonchalantly and other people will be like, whoa, how do you get this free stuff? Or how does this happen or what's going on? And it's almost nothing like in some ways it's nothing that you're trying to do. It's just by being curious, it's just by asking questions.

You've had lots of reps of asking questions. I think one thing that is really interesting and unique about having a podcast is that you have almost a special window into the life of someone else that you are able to there is a premise of vulnerability that you're hopefully expecting that, okay, we are both here. We're both gonna engage in this conversation. You're going to listen to me. I'm going to listen to you. And hopefully you will answer some of my questions to the best of your ability. And I know that you've had that opportunity with loads of amazing people and loads of people [00:34:00] from different walks of life and people that might be great coaches or great leaders or great thinkers in different ways.

And I'm interested to know, what would you say is the best question that you've asked?

Joe: Wait a minute, you threw in, you threw in three words at the end, which I think illustrates a really powerful concept. You said, what do you think is the best question? I've worked really diligently on my listening skills and it is a skill, it's not a gift. I learned a concept of listening through the period. So I think that's Oscar Trimboli who says that.

Joe's most memorable question

Joe: And if I would've just jumped in, what is the best question you asked? What is the best question? I would have had a different answer for you, but then when you say what's the best question you've asked. Now, I'm starting to think about it, the question in a different way.

So let me pause for a second. And I know, you know what I'm saying?

Which one are you more interested in? I mean, usually people say both, but I'm curious of what you mean by that, because I will answer differently.

David: I think I'm interested in the latter.

Joe: The best question I've ever asked.

Well, that's, that would be, will you marry, will you marry me to Dana? That's, [00:35:00] that's the one I'm going to go with, but go ahead and finish your, your color there. And I'll, I'll, I'll jump back in.

David: I think maybe that's a great answer. I can tell you what I was thinking when I was asking the question is, because like I mentioned, I think when you're on a podcast, you're asking people questions. You don't want to ask boring questions. You don't want to ask the questions that people get asked all the time.

I think you want to learn something new, not just for yourself, but also for the listeners. And you're trying to draw something out. And I think you ask good questions, obviously, you know how to ask good questions. Cause it's what you teach people. But I'm interested to know is, has there been a time that you asked a question that you drew something out that you don't think you would have got otherwise, if you hadn't asked such a good question, if you hadn't phrased it in a unique way or asked it at the right time or in the right place or whatever the circumstances were around them..

Joe: Two come right to mind. Roy Firestone used to host a show on ESPN called Up Close. He actually later got featured in the movie, Jerry Maguire. He was the one who Cuba Gooding Jr. would say, you're not going to [00:36:00] make me cry, Roy. And he was known as one of the greatest interviewers in the world, and I interviewed him from my childhood home where I used to watch the show with my dad.

And at one point during the conversation, I said to him, I noticed you interviewed Ansel Adams. Ansell Adams is one of the, is best known for people my age for having those black and white photos that everyone would put in their college dorm room. But I didn't realize until I could prepare for the show, Roy, that Ansell Adams had this, this and this going on. And he goes, whoa. I mean, I don't know where you found that, I was actually the last person to interview Ansell Adams while he was alive. I was known for interviewing sports players, but you must have done your homework.

And like it immediately gave some kind of credibility. And I think that, that was something that we've you know, developed a bit of a relationship from.

The other one is the first question I asked Laura Gassner Otting. She goes by @HeyLGO on Twitter. I went through her Instagram and found that she had a picture of a turkey heart. Like it was her speaking. It was like her with her children, her in Fort Lauderdale, and then a Turkey [00:37:00] heart just sitting there on her Instagram feed. So when I was preparing for this show and she, she was on the book tour, she just got out of Good morning America. I opened up with, you know, LGO and preparing for our talk today. I have a million different directions I want to go in, but first things first, why is your eighth picture on your Instagram of a Turkey heart on a plate? The reason why that brings me such a delight, and I don't think, I know I didn't plan it. She has brought up Turkey heart in hashtags. She has brought it up on clubhouse rooms. She has brought it up in our personal conversations, she's going to speak to my coaching cohort because I asked her that question, David. She literally brings it up and says out of 150 interviews she went on, I was one of the top five that she ever went on.

And I'm only saying the numbers because it's such a high compliment. Like I'm not trying to brag about it, but to give color to your question, because I asked something weird that is going to reveal something about her. And actually Firestone said that to me, he goes a [00:38:00] great question, reveals something from a person. I was able to in a non gimmicky way, you know, there's this thread that connects the two things, right? There's credibility, curiosity, and just a touch of novelty in those two questions. And I hope if I'm doing it right, I do that often, but that's two examples of, I think what has separated my work to some degree.

David Elikwu: Thank you so much for tuning in. Please do stay tuned for more. Don't forget to rate, review and subscribe. It really helps the podcast and follow me on Twitter feel free to shoot me any thoughts. See you next time.

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