Protecting yourself from random advice and asking the right questions

Have you ever been asked for advice with what you know is the wrong question?

This week I was asked three times for specific details about what I ate and didn’t eat to lose weight. I gave the requestors the details, however, had they asked a different question they would have received a different answer.

See, the question is not “how?” rather the question is “why?”

Simon Sinek has a great book called “Start with Why,” and this thought applies here.  In most instances with most objectives, from weight loss to business results, the “hows” or the tactics used, are just details. Important, sure, but not the place to begin. The “whys” or the motivations behind the actions are what is critical.

I’ll share a few examples to bring this to light.


Fred has 3000 “likes” on his Facebook fan page. Sue asks Fred, “How did you get 3000 likes on Facebook? What did you do?

Fred responds with his how – he spent 15 minutes each morning and each evening on social media, building relationships, liking other businesses and asking them to like his. He put his fan page on his business card, etc.

These may be important things to do. But what if Sue had asked it this way:

“Why do you think you have so many “likes” on facebook, Fred? What is the source of that result?”

To this Fred may tell Sue about his overall business strategy, his ideal client, the story behind his business, and why his business is so relevant and engaging to people who find it online. He may also talk about the role of social media in lives of his ideal clients, and how he really got to know them before he chose his strategy.

Hmmm… different, right?


Stacy is earning $500,000 a year in her business. Barb, who is a similar business, asks Stacy, “How do you make that kind of money? What do you sell?”

To this question, Stacy may tell Barb all about her different packages, programs, and clients, directly answering the question about what she sells.

This, too, can be great information to paint a vision for Barb about what is possible. However, had she asked:

“Stacy, why do you think you have been so successful in your business? What is at the source of your result?”

She may have heard about the stages of her business and how she went from zero to where she is today. She might have learned about how Stacy was so clear about why she was in business, she didn’t quit, even when she experienced failure.

She may have heard information about how Stacy messages about her business in a way that people “get it” and want it. She may have heard about how important it was for her to be focused on the level she was at, rather than trying to create the highest level of business from the start. She may have gotten better, more strategic advice for her had she asked the right question.


Darla lost 30 pounds in 4 months. Sarah asked Darla to share with her what she eats. “How are you eating? What did you eat when you started?”

To this question, Sarah would receive details about the vegetable + 3 fruits daily cleanse that Darla did for 1 week, and the 6 small meals a day with whole foods that she does now.

It’s always helpful to know the tactics. But a better question might be:

“Darla, why did you lose weight? What was at the source of your success?”

The answer to that question is completely different. I would tell you that I first decided to lose weight – I had to get really clear about why I really wanted to do it (hint: this is the key), which had nothing to do with looking good or living longer. Next I sought out support and accountability. Third, I released the mental and emotional blocks that were keeping me from losing weight so I could really get committed to losing weight. Then I prioritized my life and eliminated some old priorities to make room for activities around losing weight – grocery shopping and cooking, etc. Then I began my cleanse and got my sugar cravings and processed food habits out of my system – I went hard-core in my priority shift to cement the decision. Eventually I began to exercise (3 months later).

By the way, if you look at what I did to lose weight and substitute grow a business, it would be the exact same steps.

As I give people information about diet cleanses I know that if they haven’t made the decision to change for their own personal reasons, cleansing will make no difference. I know it. (Not saying these people haven’t, I don’t know, they are just asking the wrong question if they want good advice from me!)

You have to know your own why – no one ever successfully accomplishes and sustains anything for someone else’s reasons, no matter how good or logical.

If you don’t have a strategy in your business – an ideal client and a systematic way to bring them in to your business, 15 minutes on Facebook morning and night will make no difference. I know it. You have to know why you are doing it.

The right questions make all the difference. You’ve got to see the big picture and get to the heart of “why” to make it happen. And ask for support from people who have been there who can see your big picture and guide you based on what YOU need, not what THEY did.

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