By Jim Whitt
I had no idea what a great listener Kent Stroman was until he wrote a book entitled Asking about Asking: Mastering the Art of Conversational Fundraising. In the preface he writes about what inspired him to write it:
“It really began a few years ago during a conversation with my friend Jim Whitt. As we were getting acquainted he asked if my thoughts had been recorded in a book. After I responded in the negative he exclaimed, ‘Kent you owe it to your audience to leave them with more than just a memory of what you have to share. They deserve to be able to go back and reference the insights you so readily offer. Your book will provide them such an option.’”
I had completely forgotten about that conversation. But Kent didn’t. He was listening. More importantly, he wrote the book. And I recommend it not just to people who are involved in fundraising but to anyone who wants to be more effective in all aspects of life.
As someone who has made a living in sales I can tell you the best salespeople are those who ask the right questions. If you ask the right questions, and listen, you’ll discover how you can help people. Then you set about helping them. Do that and you’ll succeed in sales.
Follow the same formula if you want to be a better boss, if you want to be a better employee, if you want to be a better coworker or if you just want to be a better person.
I am humbled that Kent credits our conversation with inspiring him to write the book but I think something else contributed to that inspiration. He wrote about it on page 5 of chapter 1: “…my hope is that this book will equip, inspire and encourage you.”
Shortly after we met, Kent and his wife Marva, attended one of our Transformational Power of Purpose workshops. Everyone who attends the workshop comes to find the answer to one question, “What is my purpose in life?”
The process I developed to help people find the answer is not complicated. In fact, it’s all about asking, listening and acting. Here’s the short version of how it works. Participants work in small groups. They complete exercises that ask them to describe specific events in their life. They share their answers with their group. The group members give them feedback on what they heard. That feedback provides them with clues that help them answer the question of, “What is my purpose in life?”
For Kent, the answer was to equip, inspire and encourage. And you’ll find him acting on his purpose every day. He is equipping, inspiring and encouraging people. The book Kent wrote is a byproduct of being actively engaged in fulfilling his purpose. As you read it you’ll be equipped, inspired and encouraged.
Ask, listen and act. It’s amazing what can happen when you ask the right question. It’s amazing what can happen when you listen. It’s really amazing what will happen when you act on what you hear. And in the process of helping others you’ll discover the person you help most is you.
You’ll find more at www.purposeunlimited.com. You may reprint this article in your own print or electronic newsletter, but please include the following: “Reprinted from the Purpose Unlimited E-Letter: For a free subscription, go to www.PurposeUnlimited.com. Copyright © 2011 Jim Whitt Purpose Unlimited.”