Interview with Ken Coleman: How to Be Amazingly Good at Asking Questions

I’ve always been fascinated by people who ask “great’ questions. When I first encountered Ken at the 2013 Catalyst conference, I was fascinated by his dynamism and ability to ask poignant questions.

Ken is an expert interviewer and rising broadcast star. Ken Coleman has been called a “young Charlie Rose” by legendary Duke Basketball Coach Mike Krzyzewski and talk radio icon Dave Ramsey has labeled him “one of the best interviewers in the country.” His list of interviewees includes the likes of former President Jimmy Carter, quarterback Tim Tebow, Senator John McCain, skateboard legend Tony Hawk, and New York Times bestselling authors from Jim Collins to Mitch Albom, Malcolm Gladwell and John Maxwell.

Ken wrote a book called One Question: Life Changing Answers from Today’s Leading Voices which includes interviews with more than 35 leaders of whom Ken asks only one question on topics including faith, success, failures, and leadership. Most importantly, Ken is blessed to be Stacy’s husband and the proud daddy of Ty, Chase and Josie. You can connect with Ken on Twitter & Facebook.

Paul: Ken, I know you’ve had the unique opportunity to interview scores of world changers. When did you realize you were born to do what you do today?Ken: Love this question and the story that answers it.  I share this story in the beginning of my book but the short version is that the first interview I ever did was with Coach K, the Hall of Fame Duke University men’s basketball coach.  About 10 minutes into the interview, my anxiety gave way to pure joy. That’s when I knew because I craved for more of that experience as soon as we wrapped.

Paul: Can you explain how you discovered your calling?Ken: I realized in high school that I had a public call on my life. I was 16 when I became certain that I wanted to make a positive impact on others through a public platform.  I thought I would be in the political channel but I was wrong. I did not know it at the time but I had discovered my sweet spot, the intersection of my greatest strength and greatest passion.

Paul: What inspired you to write the book “One Question: Life-Changing Answers from Today’s Leading Voices”?Ken: A friend who is a best selling author pushed me to write a book.  The only thing I wanted to write about was the power of questions and then illustrate the point by showcasing great answers to life’s biggest questions.

Paul: Voltaire once said, “Judge a man by his questions rather than his answers.” Why are questions more important than answers?Ken: Two reasons come to mind. One, questions turn your audience into participants rather than passengers and two, if you aren’t continually asking, you are not progressing.

Paul: What are some practical ways I can improve the art of questioning?Ken: I think the answer is obvious but the more I observe the questions that people and media professionals ask, the more I realize it is not.  Ask what you really need to know. throw out the fluff questions. Get to the heart of the matter immediately.  Listen with your eyes and your ears.  Read faces and body language.  Do your homework, then ask questions that connect. Ask the right person.

Paul: What is the most profound question you’ve ever said or heard?
Ken: The most profound question in the world is “Why am I here?”

Paul: What are the top three books that helped you be where you are at today?Ken: Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty by Harvey McKay, The Winner Within by Pat Riley, Seizing Your Divine Moment by Erwin McManus

Question: What’s your favorite life-changing question?