About Conversation Kindling

The purpose of this blog is to share stories, metaphors, quotes, songs, humor, etc. in hopes they'll be used to spark authentic and rewarding conversations about working and living fruitfully. There are at least three things you can gain by getting involved in these conversations. First, you'll discover new and important things about yourself through the process of thinking out loud. Second, you'll deepen your relationships with others who participate by swapping thoughts, feelings, and stories with them. Finally, you'll learn that robust dialogue centered on stories and experiences is the best way to build new knowledge and generate innovative answers to the questions that both life and work ask.

I write another blog called My Spare Brain. This is where I am "storing" ideas for use in future books, articles, blog posts, speeches, and workshops. There is little rhyme or reason for what I post there. I do this to encourage visitors to come as treasure hunters looking for new ways of seeing and thinking vs. researchers looking for new or better answers to questions they already know how to ask.

18 June 2010

Inside the Actors Studio

James Lipton has been the host of Bravo's original series Inside the Actors Studio since its inception in 1994. Lipton has interviewed over 200 guests, including 74 Academy Award winners. The first guest was Paul Newman; the 200th was Dave Chappelle, who turned the tables by interviewing Lipton. The show is seen in 79 million American homes and is broadcast to 125 countries around the world.

The show rolls out in three parts. First, is a one-on-one interview conducted by Lipton. Second, the host submits a questionnaire to the guest. And third, if time permits, the guest fields questions from the audience. All in all, the show provides a wonderful opportunity to get to know the guest as a human being as well as an actor.

The thing that has intrigued me the most in the time I've spent watching the show has been the questionnaire phase. This is because the questionnaire asks the same 10 questions of each guest, and as a result of holding the questions constant you get to see the differences in the guests. The questions Lipton asks are as follows:
  1. What is your favorite word?
  2. What is your least favorite word?
  3. What turns you on creatively, spiritually, or emotionally?
  4. What turns you off creatively, spiritually, or emotionally?
  5. What sound or noise do you love?
  6. What sound or noise do you hate?
  7. What is your favorite curse word?
  8. What profession, other than your own, would you like to attempt?
  9. What profession would you not like to do?
  10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?
  • Ask yourself these questions and record your answers. Do the same a year later to find out how you've changed.
  • Use the questionnaire in one-one-one conversations. You and another person will get to know each other a little better.
  • Use it to help team members get to know each other better.

When Harrison Ford was asked what he would like to hear God say when he arrived at the Pearly Gates, he said:
"You're much better looking in person."

On April 29, 2008, James Lipton was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. Here is a video of the tribute paid to him at the 2008 Emmy Awards.

Here's Robin Williams working through The Questionnaire.

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