Two Questions that Reveal Aspirations

I first heard the expression, “A typical job interview is a conversation between two liars,” on a call to Buenos Aires in 2014.

It’s not just job interviews. People pretend they’re someone they aren’t.

Questions are windows.

Image of a hound dog looking up in admiration.

5 types of questions:

  1. Hypothetical questions. “What kind of animal would you like to be?” “If our roles were reversed, what questions would you ask?”
  2. Experience questions. “What have you learned from failure?”
  3. Unexpected questions. “If you could have dinner with any person from history, who would it be?”
  4. Practical questions. “How would you begin a conversation with someone who needs to improve their performance?”
  5. Performance questions. “What process do you use for setting and achieving goals?”

Two questions that reveal aspirations:

“Excluding your parents, what three living people do you greatly admire?”

Create a window by asking, “Could you tell me two or three specific things you admire about those people?”

James da Silva notices that over 20% of us won’t answer or don’t have anyone we admire.

Why ask about admiration:

Admiration informs aspiration.

A kid today might aspire to be a TikTok star. The aspiration to become a TikTok star comes from admiring TikTok stars.

We desire to be like the people we admire.

In the 60’s people wore bell-bottoms and fringe because they admired anti-authoritarian hippies.

The car you drive, hobbies you enjoy, and clothes you wear are influenced by the people you admire.

Image of a cute puppy with admiration in its eyes.


Admiration forms values.

I respect people who work hard. Where does that come from? My dad was the hardest working man I have ever known. I admire him.

Did I value hard work before or after I admired dad? The people we admire show us what to want.

When people tell you who they admire, they declare their aspirational selves.

How might leaders explore what makes people tick?