Most would not describe themselves that way, as fascinating, but I have found they intrigue me.
When I ask someone for an interview it might be triggered by a press release, corporate news or a pending retirement – it varies widely. Or maybe I just met them and find them interesting.
If I’m curious, if I’m nosy, if they intrigue me, I am certain our readers will find them interesting too.
As I look back on the growing list of those I’ve interviewed – I scroll through and remember every one of those meetings. Over coffees, lunches, on park benches, in board rooms, face-to-face, on a shoe-shine stand (where else would you interview a shoe-shiner?), in kitchens, in cars, living rooms and libraries, street corners and bars.
This weekend of thanksgiving I have been reflecting on several things – around gratitude, about this milestone of 100 interviews (2nd anniversary of this interview feature has arrived) – and want to pay thanks to several people who have helped make this feature move from a ‘let's try that’ experiment to a valued and popular feature. What began as a value-add feature for our sponsorship program has become a weekly ritual I relish.
Obviously, thanking those who have given me their time – opened their vests and allowed me to peer inside – I am profoundly grateful.
Seriously, there has been no greater fun in this writer’s recent experience that can equal the experience of observing people answering questions. Face-to-face with people I know a little about, or a lot, or nothing – has proven incredibly educational for me. Not that I hope to learn anyone’s profession, craft or business-niche, but I have learned valuable lessons in what drives people. I find how they were formed – from childhood, from early career experiences and fork-in-road choices they’ve made as instructive. To me.
I have some high-lites low-lites, favourites and disappointments. Most interviews I’ve done are published here. Very few in the trash-can. Most were full-on open and frank discussions. Some included ‘please don’t print that’ moments. Three of that 100 revealed they own a Maserati – but didn’t want me to tell anyone … so, as you can see, I haven’t.
Some were meetings I’ll treasure, some are incredible stories to tell.
I’ve gotten better, I think, since those first few two years ago. Some of the questions I ask are routine – because I am interested in asking them. Because I believe readers want to know too. Better questions are evolving, I think, and with them come better opportunities for interviewees to reveal more.
Fascination with achievement, its cause. Fascination with what people do, and why they do it. That makes this work.
And, thanks to those who read these interviews, it is working.
To those whose interviewing techniques I’ve admired and been a fan of – big hat-tips in salute to them for teaching so much, for allowing me to be a pretender to their skills. I’ve borrowed from them, not to emulate any of them, but to baldly (easy for me) rip them off.
There is no cure for the common question.
What’s next …?
Laughter, tears, snappy retorts and deep reflection.
Not me, but those I interview.
Someone I’ve been chasing lately for an interview said he was happy to talk about his company and his work but ‘none of that personal stuff!’
I’m working on him and hope to have his interview appear on these pages soon. What is it then that contributes to the good interview? What makes ordinary people shine, and extraordinarily private people let down their guard? What makes some of these grown men (and women) cry?
Most of the people I’ve interviewed are not celebrities, not accustomed to strutting the public state – while some are quite well schooled at that.
I have found people I interview profoundly humble, kind and worth every minute I spent with them. They may not have been changed or affected by that meeting, but I have been. Every time.
What causes people to reveal so much – at all, let alone to me?
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