Johnson Cook

Atlanta tech investor. Entrepreneur.

Johnson Cook - Atlanta tech investor. Entrepreneur.

Easy Way to Be Someone’s Hero – Dig a Little Deeper


Bell Curve of ConversationsOne of the principals of a successful mastermind forum is that you come to the table ready to share the “best and worst 5%” of life.

It works like this: Take everything in life and put it into a bell curve. In the middle, you have all the small talk:  weather, sports, news.    This is stuff we’ll talk about with anybody.  Moving out from there, you have slightly more personal topics, politics,  family, kids, church, exercise. Then you go even farther out from small talk: what you get paid, fears, childhood good/bad memories, struggles.

Finally, you get out to the fringes. What we call the 5%. The 5% best things in  life and the 5% worst things in life. You don’t share this with many people if anybody at all.   In my forum we bring the expectation that each person shares their 5%. Cut the small talk. Straight to the business.     We believe that we each have plenty of friends to spend our time in the other 90% of life, but our forum is designed to support the best and worst of life.  It’s one of the reasons our forum is successful.

However, my point isn’t that you have to go all the way out to the 5% to have more meaningful relationships, but in every meaningful relationship in your life:

Don’t be afraid to gently dig a little deeper.

When talking to friends and you ask them about their life at home. When things aren’t going well is when you’ll often get the most casual answers. If you really care about this person, and the time and setting is right, don’t be afraid to just gently scratch a little deeper. Ask another question or two. Change your tone. Let them know that it’s ok if they want to share something with you.

It’s amazing when this happens how you can become a hero. You can be the one who showed that you cared more than anyone else, and all you had to do was ask a couple of extra questions at the right time with the right attitude.



  • Noel Coleman says:

    I’ve begun learning to do this with my kids and it has carried over into my work life as well. Conversations usually begin with small talk, asking about the kids’ day, etc. Whatever their answer (usually something like “good”), I just ask the next question. “Oh yeah? What projects did you work on today?” Then the next. “What did you like about that project?” So on.

    Kids are such a great place to learn how to gently but intentionally encourage sharing and depth. Push too hard and they lock down. Not enough and they stick with “good.” Done right you end up having the most revealing conversations that form patterns of how communication should be done in your family’s DNA and culture.

    Do this same thing at work and you end up with more than colleagues. You end up with real teams.

    October 3, 2012 at 1:21 pm

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *