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

July 29, 2014 15 Comments
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ken coleman

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?

About the Author:

Paul Sohn is an organizational chiropractor, purpose weaver, and kingdom-minded catalyst. Paul currently serves at The Boeing Company as a LEAN practitioner, providing expertise in continuous improvement initiatives, building high-performing teams and processes to create effective organizations. Paul also serves as an organizational consultant and Board Director at the Portland Leadership Foundation. He is writing his forthcoming book on how to live intentionally as a twenty-something. Paul received a Bachelor of Commerce degree at University of British Columbia in 2010. Above all, Paul’s vision is to turn the world upside down by equipping, connecting, and transforming emerging Christian leaders and organizations.
  • DS

    Who do you believe Jesus is?

    • Paul Sohn

      One of the most powerful questions one can ask, certainly David!

  • Paul Jolicoeur

    Asking great question is an art form. Ken you do a great job as the new host of the Entreleader podcast. Asking great questions allows you to unlock the wisdom buried in someones heart.

    • Paul Sohn

      Sure thing Paul. The quality of one’s question has the ability to either transform or destroy lives.

  • Beth Stauffer

    While participating in something called The Truth Project, I experienced the greatest question of all time in my opinion. He asked, “Do you believe, that what you believe, is really real?” You have to say it a few times to fully grasp it, but when you ponder that question for a while, your thinking is forced to go really deep. Especially when considering religious beliefs.

    • Paul Sohn

      So good. Beth. I had to say it a few times as well, but it is really the ultimate question of all.

  • Ryan Avery

    Thanks for doing these interviews Paul! You do great work! Keep up the awesome content and looking forward to seeing your next infographic also :)

    • Paul Sohn

      I appreciate it Ryan! Let’s keep hustling and work on how building our platform. We are blessed to be a blessing! :)

  • Chandler Crawford

    That’s a great interview. I had never heard of Ken before I heard him on the Entreleadership podcast, he really is dynamite and I love the insight provided in this quick and to the point interview. Thanks for sharing, Paul!

  • Steve Adams

    Really good Paul. Just this past week I heard Ken do a joint interview recorded for the EntreLeadership Podcast with Jim Collins and Bob Buford. They were discussing mentoring and the impact that Peter Drucker had on both of them. I’d highly recommend listening to it for all those tuned in here. Whatever folks are saying about Ken in a positive vein is very true. I read his book and it’s inspiring to get the answers to those questions.

  • Bidur Adhikari

    Wonderful reading. Asking is promised with answering/receiving by Jesus too. desire, readiness to sacrifice and invest and willingness to receive the critical as well as approbative responses, I think, are critical attitudes to be a questioner asking great questions for great answers. My question to Paul: What inspired you to lead, mentor, empower and share with others, because there are taxing jobs? meaning, what are the paybacks for you?

  • Charles Oloyede

    Thank you Paul, I got a very amazing point from this publication “ask what you want to know and get to the heart of the matter immediately”

  • travisrhaley

    Thanks Paul! I appreciate the great interview. I have been working on asking the right questions. I will be digging deeper!

  • Geoff Reese

    Exactly what I was looking for today Paul. Doing some research for my podcast and came across this. Thanks!

  • Chandler Crawford

    I read this post several months ago, but as I got ready for a podcast interview this morning I figured I’d stop back by and check it out again. I’m really glad I did. Some good insight from a great interviewer. Thanks, Paul.