Book Review: Ask More

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Ask More: The Power of Questions to Open Doors, Uncover Solutions, and Spark Change by Frank Sesno (forwarded by Wolf Blitzer) takes the reader on a journey on how to ask great questions in certain situations. Frank Sesno is an expert storyteller, and it shows in this book. It’s easy to pick out one or two golden nuggets of information and apply it to my professional world.

Asking questions is more than trying to find out what’s going on. There are different types of questions that depend on your situation. Sesno dives into the art of questioning in his informative narrative.

Synopsis

Sesno starts by talking about a reporter asking hard questions during a press briefing. He expresses his desire to know the truth and to be a great journalist. Great journalists ask great questions. He then outlines the chapters by the types of questions he asks in specific situations. Here are the questions that he’ll ask:

Diagnostic questions. You’re asking about what’s wrong to fix something.

Strategic questions. These help you see the big picture in your life so you can make tough decisions.

Empathy questions. You want to understand how another feels, so ask these questions during an emotional time.

Bridging questions. Sometimes, you’ll interact with people who don’t like you. These questions help bridge a gap to establish a more friendly relationship.

Confrontational questions. These are your hostile questions. You want answers and aren’t interested in building trust.

Creativity questions. Use these when you’re trying to inspire yourself or others to take risks and be creative.

Mission questions. You’re looking for people who share your values and goals, and asking these questions will help understand who shares what you believe.

Scientific questions. Here’s where you implement the scientific method. These questions provoke experimentation and process to get to a result.

Interview questions. Just like a job interview, these questions determine compatibility or competence for a task or career.

Entertaining questions. Sesno used the example of a host asking thought-provoking questions to entertain his guests. These are entertaining if asked correctly.

Legacy questions. These questions invoke memories and reflection. Ask these questions to draw out answers from life’s experiences.

His book outline was easy to follow. I got the audiobook, and Sesno did an excellent job at narrating. The concepts he explained weren’t too involved. The most complicated part of the book was the section on bridging questions. It’s not that he did a poor job explaining it; instead, I think these are the most difficult types of questions to ask.

What I liked

He talked about several of his reporting experiences in his book. I felt like I moved with the book like I was his assistant. Sesno wrote as if I experienced these things myself in some cases. The most vivid example he gave was about entertaining questions and how hosts will ask questions to entertain guests. Although I have been to several house parties, I have never thought about questions being a form of entertainment. It was enlightening to me.

Also, Sesno brought out the implications of each set of questions. For example, he talked about how competitive questions don’t always build relationships, but you need answers for the record. All actions have consequences, and Sesno articulated that very well. Sometimes, he needed to get a hard truth out of someone, but the person is usually reluctant. Regardless, Sesno was willing to ask the hard questions.

Frequently, we don’t picture journalists as very empathetic, but that was my favorite chapter in the book. Sesno brought out the emotion in that chapter, and I was impressed. His emphasis on listening caught my attention. He talked about long-time relationships with people where he used empathetic questions. One story he told was a daughter talking to her father about a sensitive topic, and that she used empathetic questions to invoke a tender response.

I have a soft spot for people who listen more than they talk. It makes for more engaging conversations, and Sesno emphasizes that listening is more important than talking with empathy questions. Further, he emphasizes boldness in speaking when needed.

Buy Ask More

What I didn’t like

I felt like his stories were too short. He provided good detail in what he said, but he could have elaborated more in some areas. Sesno is an expert communicator. Professional communicators like Sesno are masters at crafting stories that are rich in detail. But I felt like he left some things out that could have added to his writing. There was always something leftover that I couldn’t figure out what was missing.

Also, some chapters felt hollow. I don’t remember the mission or creativity questions chapters. They weren’t as memorable as the other ones. I have been in the Army for a while, and I learned more from the empathy chapter than I did from the mission or strategic chapters. For a casual audience, it’s challenging to remember the content in multiple sections. Some become easily forgettable. He ran that risk, and for the most part, it paid off with these exceptions.

His writing was a lot like reading a Twitter feed. His sentences were short, and his paragraphs weren’t too long. That’s a blessing and a curse because if you’re explaining a complex topic like asking questions, I hoped he would elaborate more on some sections (i.e., the mission and creativity sections). Again, there are pros and cons to this. He wasn’t writing a peer-reviewed article. Instead, he wanted to reach the masses with his ideas. Despite my grievance, I believe he achieved his goal of the book.

Overall

Sesno brought my mind alive! He’s an engaging writer and a bold reporter. Plus, having Wolf Blitzer do the forward was the icing on the cake.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn how to ask questions. It’s a quick read (or listen), and you can refer back to it easily when needed. This one is one for the home library. You can buy the book here.

My rating: 7/10

Have you read this book? Let me know what you think in the comment section down below. Thank you for reading!

8 thoughts on “Book Review: Ask More”

  1. Dave Hayes says:

    This is quite an interesting website, with an unusual name, reading the about me page, it doesn’t actually say how it came about. How did you choose the name

    You have a fairly comprehensive list of PD books. Are these your own and based on your own experiences

    PD is obviously very important to us all, it makes us more rounded and better individuals.

    I was fairly lucky, in having two great mentors. One was my late mum, the otrher was being Policeofficer for 13 years.

    Your book reviews are comprehensive as well, so well done on them, made enjoyable reading

    1. Robert says:

      Dave,

      Leadership has become more important to me since going into the military. I started reading leadership books to round out my educational background. Thank you for the tip! Also, I’m glad that you had good mentors in your life. Do you have book recommendations as well? Thanks for your comment

      Robert

  2. LineCowley says:

    Hi Robert, What a great way of describing the types of questions. I had never really thought about it, but that describes exactly the different questions that one needs to be asking, if you want specific answers. I have a friend who is a life coach and she always seems to be asking the right questions to get answers. If I think about it, many of them would be empathy questions. 

    It certainly sounds like a “must read” and a book that one can refer back to again and again. 

    1. Robert says:

      LineCowley,

      Absolutely! I’m glad you got some good insight from the review. What types of questions do you use most often? Come back and visit again!

      Robert

  3. Steviejohn41 says:

    Hello there,  This is an amazing article that you have got here. Frank sesno is indeed a  prolific writer  and I believe his book “Ask more” will help to change the perception of readers and better offer great approach technique. From the synopsis you shared, the book will increasingly change the tide in leadership and alter the views of others. His approach is quite excellent.

    1. Robert says:

      Stevie,

      I appreciate your kind words about the review! Asking good questions is a great way to connect with your audience, and Frank Sesno does a great job at that. Come back and visit again!

      Robert

  4. edahnewton1 says:

    Hey nice review you have there, the introduction of the book is quite impressive. I commend your efforts in writing such an awesome book despite the diverse challenges that is involved in writing a book. I would love to have a copy of it to explore the whole contents. However, I would love to know about the price and available platforms to have a purchase 

    1. Robert says:

      Edahnewton,

      I found it on Amazon for $15.71. Here’s the short link to the book on Amazon: https://amzn.to/3e0Voo9 Sesno opened up a whole new world for me in this book. I think it’s a great read. I hope you come back and visit the site again!

      Robert

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