The art of marketing often involves asking lots of questions with no expectations of the answers. This can be the most difficult thing to do. How often do we assume we know the answers and forget to ask the right questions? I think what children do best is have an open mind. In Japan they use the phrase “Shoshin” which means beginners mind. In the beginners mind says Shunryu Suzuki, a Japanese Buddhist scholar, there are many possibilities; in the experts mind there are few.
I want to share a story about a friend of mine, which illustrates “the beginners mind”. We were in a meeting together and she looked as if she had been crying earlier. When I asked her if everything was ok she reassured me that it was just allergies and her allergist had prescribed drops.
The next time we spoke I asked her if she was still suffering with allergies. “Funny you should ask, she said, I went home that day, got into bed and hoped for some relief, my daughter came into the room and said, mommy, you have “esema”. (her daughter had eczema on her arms in the past) This conversation went on for a while and to get her daughter off her case my friend put some of her daughters cream under her eyes. As you might have guessed it worked instantly.
Now, I certainly don’t recommend self-medicating ourselves but I do believe there is a business lesson here. How often do we ask our clients a question with an answer already in our heads? Or in my client’s case did she start her conversation with the allergist asking for eye drops, for her allergies rather than asking an open-ended question of what is this. Next time you meet with a client try not to come up with a solution too quickly and try using “Shoshin, a beginners mind”. Ask more open-ended questions. What was wasted? What caused complaints today? You will be surprised what you might learn.