The Experience
Teach at Jolt

23 Questions to Ask Instead Of “So, What Do You Do?”

Lior Frenkel
June 12, 2018

Let’s invite people to tell their stories, not their resumes. Here are 23 alternative questions to “so, what do you do?”

  1. What creative projects are you working on right now?
  2. If money were no object, how would you spend your time?
  3. What do you think the future looks like for you?
  4. Who was your childhood hero?
  5. Who is your modern-day hero?
  6. Who did you want to be when you grew up?
  7. What’s the best thing that happened to you this year?
  8. What’s the last photo you took?
  9. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever heard?
  10. What’s the nicest thing anyone has done for you?
  11. What’s the nicest thing you’ve ever done for someone?
  12. What are you most looking forward to?
  13. If you were in power for a day, how would you try and improve your country?
  14. How do you feel your life has worked out so far?
  15. What habit or improvement are you working on?
  16. What’s been playing on your mind lately?
  17. What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned recently?
  18. If you could have dinner with anyone in the world, who would it be?
  19. If you were on death row, what would be your last ever meal?
  20. What charitable or philanthropic cause are you passionate about?
  21. Who is your favourite author or recording artist?
  22. What’s the last film that truly made an impression on you?
  23. If you had to give a TED talk tomorrow, what would it be about?

So why do so few of us have creative breaks?

Because almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes. Including you.

Charles Darwin took long walks around London. Kurt Vonnegut made listening to jazz a daily priority. Fiona Apple disappeared for 6 years after the release of her third album.

So why do so few of us have creative breaks?

I ask because I can often be found agonising over the "more". If only I posted on Instagram more, I'll think in the bath. I'd have more followers if I pitched to more publications. I need to post 2 more times a week, minimum. I could go on...

Between you and me, I've got frustrated with myself for browsing Facebook or watching too much TV more times than I can remember.

And I'm not alone. So many of us are terrified of taking a break, creatively speaking. We won't let a moment pass without listening to a podcast, consuming an article or sharing something.

The cognitive load is real, y'all.

But like Vitamin D, sleep and good food, it's not only ok to take a break, it's essential.

Living a successful life is also about knowing when not to work. For your best output, you need to focus on your input, too.

The world won't end if you disappear from the internet for a week or so. Your creativity won't suddenly stop. Your time is now, but your time was also then and it will be again.

Your dreams don't have an expiration date.

Many of us confuse being "busy" with being constructive. But you can only do your best work by taking breaks.

And science backs it up, too. The brain requires substantial downtime to do its most innovative thinking. The ideas you have while driving or in the shower aren't coincidental. They're a result of you taking a step back, whether you're aware of it or not.

Here's a challenge for you

Let yourself take a wonderful and indulgent break. Several breaks. Hell, get downright bored.

Put airplane mode on for a while. Sit down. Lie down. Be still. Do nothing. Observe. Listen to your mind. Let it do what it does without judging it.

Wallow in it. Don't be afraid of it. Push it as far as you can.

When you leave your laptop behind, something always happens. A new idea or a fresh perspective appears.


"A spark of inspiration needs an empty cave."

Take proper breaks, often. Completely clear your mind. Your next best idea depends on it.

Taken by over 18,500 people; Calibrated by 100s of tech employees

By taking this 10-min test I can set myself up for success

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