By Laura Entis
January 2, 2017

Tim Ferriss has spent his career interviewing top performers across industries. These super achievers have more in common with one another than they do with “the B or C players in their own field,” he says.

While these men and women share many habits — such as a tendency to meditate — Ferriss says their most important commonality is their fondness for asking absurd questions. It’s a quirk that spans the country and transcends industries, practiced by everyone from New York professionals “outside of tech” to the Marc Andreessen and Chris Saccas of the world.

When entrepreneurs pitch X Prize Foundation founder Peter Diamandis, for example, he apparently (and somewhat terrifyingly) asks how they can increase the economics of their business by a factor of 10 in the next three months. If the response is “that’s impossible,” Diamandis will say “I don’t accept that answer, try again,” according to Ferriss.

The power of these questions doesn’t lie in their intimidation factor — instead, it’s in their ability to strip away preconceptions and assumptions in order to uncover a new, radical, potentially brilliant idea, plan or strategy.

Watch the video above to hear Ferriss explain how Diamandis, investor Peter Thiel, and others use absurd questions to advance their careers.

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