• The Interrogative Entrepreneur?

    David Falzani
    President of Sainsbury Management Fellows
    Visiting Professor at Nottingham Business School

    I recently gifted someone a copy of The Interrogative Mood by Padgett Powell. This book, purportedly a novel, weaves a subtle web of questions that when read together somehow seem to make sense in interrelated and sometimes unexpected ways. It’s probably not for everyone, but I find it ‘lights up’ parts of the brain other texts cannot reach. I thought it might be fun to have a go myself, loosely directed at entrepreneurship:

    Do you ever get an itch you can’t quite reach? Do you get upset by problems you think easy to have been solved?

    Are new products easier or harder than old products? How important is vision to your motivation? Do you get excited by ‘the possibility’? Does getting the mortgage and school fees paid make you old?

    Would you rather be broke at 20 and rich at 70, or the opposite way round?

    Is stress the complexity or the enormity of the task? Are you motivated more by anger or by aspiration?

    What portion of salary should a car cost? Are taxes optional? Does ‘doing sales’ excite you?

    Do you genuinely like other people? Do you actually spend £3 on a cup of coffee? Would you genuinely prefer 1 in the hand or 2 in the bush?

    Do you prefer ice cream or milk shake? Do you realise that you will one day die? Do you spend more time typing on a keyboard or speaking into a phone?

    Is stress the things you can’t control, or the impossibility of the task?

    Did you ever miss key events of your children’s lives? Would you rather pay taxes or recycle? Are you willing to wait 2 years to get paid? If you were paying, would you travel club class? Do you do what you believe in or do you believe in what you do?

    Do you prefer to lead or be led? Do you do the best work in the morning or the evening? Is your preference poker or chess? Have you paid £1m for a 2 bedroom flat next to Waterloo Station rather than commute?

    Would you rather create a chain of doughnut shops or work for Google?

    Can you walk away from a guaranteed job and lifestyle? Have you ever been stood at the top of a cliff and been terrified you might jump?

    Does failure scare you? And if so, do you know why? Should the maximum salary in any publicly funded body ever be higher than the Prime Minister’s?

    Is the boss’s job to be tough or to be kind?

    How much money is enough? For you? Do you have an Amex card? Would you mortgage your house to back your business?

    Did you always attend your child’s sports days?
    Are you tidy, or an unmade bed?
    Do you play the lottery and if so, what’s your strategy?
    Would you rather own 1% of GE or 100% of Krispy Kreme?
    Does the freedom to risk total failure terrify or comfort you? Have you seen a baby pigeon?
    If you suddenly became wealthy, what would you do? – what would your new job be?
    Do you play video games without children present? Do you like Tabasco?

    Do you prefer coffee or sleep? Do you know the expression ‘through the meat grinder’? Are new problems easier than old ones?
    Do you prefer finding out what the pain is or what the solution should be?
    Have you been ‘through the meat grinder’?
    Are you able to explain why all the better mousetraps failed?
    Do you understand Zappos?

    Would you rather meet Jack Welch, Gordon Gekko, or Mark Zuckerberg? Would you rather sit in the shade under a tree sipping red wine, or work hard to build a business and get rich so that you can sit in the shade under a tree sipping red wine? Are you a cat or a dog person?
    Are all problems in the world ultimately political? Is it important to know why things happen?
    Do you have a favourite cocktail?
    Would you like to celebrate the civil service?
    What would it take for you to give it all away?
    If you almost ‘made it’ but lost everything, would you start again or settle?
    Do you think CEOs should be on minimum wage?
    Is it OK to make money that someone else has lost?
    Are you glass half empty or half full?
    Is war an opportunity, or a travesty, or both?
    Is coffee a drug for you?

    Does your brain ever hurt?

    Did this ‘work’ for you?


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