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pallen123's avatar

I organize a business group online and am trying to think of provocative questions to ask to jumpstart discussion. Any ideas?

Asked by pallen123 (1510 points ) July 20th, 2009

The group mainly consists of entrepreneurs and investors, plus some academics (researchers and professors). They’re interested in things like investing, taxes, new technology and product/business ideas, marketing, market research, controlling costs, etc. We have a few new people join each day, and besides saying “Welcome Bob! Please share a bit about yourself” I’m wondering if there’s a better, more stimulating question I could be asking – not necessarily “What’s your favorite color?” or “Where have you lived/worked in the past” but along those lines. Anyone have creative/timely ideas? Thank you!

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20 Answers

whatthefluther's avatar

Welcome Bob! I’ve just handed you a million dollars. What will you do with it?

pallen123's avatar

@whatthefluther Excellent! Love that idea! Thank you!

aprilsimnel's avatar

“What what your first experience in selling/marketing/entrepreneurship? What did you learn from it?”

For example, when I was a child, I had a lemonade stand at 6, I sold candy door-to-door for my church at 8 and for a school ski trip at 13. I raised money for Yad Vashem at 19 and got one guy to give me $3000 for the museum. I learned that the way to make a sale was to position the service, product or foundation in such a way as to make the thing relevant to the customers’ lives now (and it helped to believe strongly in each of the organizations and efforts I was involved with at that time, so the church one didn’t go all that well).

pallen123's avatar

Great too @aprilsimnel. Thank you!

Bri_L's avatar

Your company has just experience a 33% loss in profits due to the unexpected departure of several main clients. How do you handle it? What do you do about your employees? In other words, what type of owner, manager are you?

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

A 10 question ethical survey for your group…

1.)
What purpose will stressing over any capitalistic endeavor ever serve?

2.)
What use is the greed that fills a bank account with riches, if it also bankrupts the heart?

3.)
What exactly do you expect to find when you reach the top?

4.)
Is media adhoc the best solution for convincing consumers to buy a product?

5.)
What is the difference between stretching the truth and outright lying?

6.)
If you lost all of your money tomorrow, could you still find a way to be happy?

7.)
What purpose does planned obsolescence serve the end user?

8.)
Would you rather relax on the beach with or without your customers to join you?

9.)
How many idiots does it take to ruin a company?

10.)
How many thieves does it take to rob a customer?

Bonus Question…
When was the last time you asked yourself
“Why am I doing what I do and who does it serve?”

pallen123's avatar

Wow @RealEyesRealizeRealLies, that is heavy. But appreciated. Excellent questions and all valid.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

You did say “provocative”...

Jeruba's avatar

Tell us about an important mistake you made and what you learned from it.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Hey… Just let them know that you found the list on another forum and wondered what they thought of it? I would actually be very interested in checking out the replies. Let us know how it works out.

pallen123's avatar

Will do @realeyesrealizereallies, and @jeruba, very nice, thank you!

pallen123's avatar

Great @Bri_L, thank you!

Jack_Haas's avatar

Not really provocative but not one that a business person would expect in the beginning:

How do you feel about failure?

Their reaction to that question should reveal a good deal about what stage of professional maturity they’re at.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

What is the most important life lesson you’ve had to date?

bcstrummer's avatar

What’s your opinion of gay marriage?
Jkjk
How bout:Youve got 3 people to talk to before you die, who would you talk to, why, and what would you say?

mattbrowne's avatar

Try ‘negative brainstorming’. For example: what do we have to do to turn our project into a complete failure? How can we be certain that all our investments are lost?

Very unorthodox but sometimes very effective.

pallen123's avatar

What finance related question, like “Are the fluctuations in currency affecting your financial results?” Boring I know, but can anyone else think of similar question in this regard?

whatthefluther's avatar

How would further consolidation of the worlds currencies (like the Euro) affect you and/or your business plans?

CaptainHarley's avatar

How will increasing government regulations impact your business?

ETpro's avatar

@pallen123 Check out this question and the TED talk link in the question details.

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