5 Years Old!

‘Ask, Not Tell’ is 5 years old this month!   I cannot believe how fast time has flied!

As I look back, the topics in the blog have shifted.   I wrote a lot about presentation skills and classroom training skills in the beginning.    Bit by bit, I have changed the perspective from training to learning.   For example, there are posts like ‘Learning vs Training’  and the one on ‘How much does training matter?’ .   And my interest in meeting facilitation has been built up.   See ‘Be prepared, and prepared not to use what you prepare’  and ‘Small-group facilitators’ .

I look forward to learning from my own reflection and your thoughts!


To make this blog more lively, I want to try something new.   I will insert a photo in each of my future post.   The photo would be taken at a time recent to the post.   It may or may not be related directly to the post.

Strength-based Approach

The single most important insight I gained in Chennai is the Strength-based Approach.  I am already aware of this before the class in Chennai.  But the class brought up the approach to me thanks to the trainers’ vivid delivery.  Basically, the approach is about focusing on your strength rather than weakness.   This resonates me a lot.  I always say to myself ‘One should focus on what he loves to do.  If he is reasonably smart, he will have outstanding performance in doing something he loves.  And outstanding performance will eventually get rewarded.’  This was my belief supporting me to move from the sales function to training.

And coincidentially in Chennai, I bought a book called ‘The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari’.    It says in the book:

“……The secret of happiness is simple: find out what you truely love to do and then direct all of your energy towards doing it.  Once you do this, abundance flows into your life and all your desires are filled with ease and grace…..”

Are we doing something we love?


A new year starts today.   Moment like this always makes me think.  My brain is flooded with questions like ‘What am I doing?’, ‘Am I on the right track?’, ‘What can I do more or better or differently?’….  Very much, I am an analytical style of person.  Yes, I think a lot.

My thought is also on this blog as well.    In 2008, there were more issues than before which I have to handle.   As a result, I have not been updating this blog as frequently as before.    I wish I can improve on that in 2009.   In addition, I would like to make this blog more personal, rather than technical as before.   I used to share only ‘learning points’ here.  In the future, on top of that, I will also share my random thoughts on training, facilitation and presentation.

I wish all ANT readers to have a wonderful 2009!!

Why ‘Ask, Not Tell’?

A reader asked me recently why this blog is called ‘Ask, Not Tell’ (or ANT as I call it sometimes). I am embarrassed to realise that I did not write a post explaining why this before.

Here is the thought behind. I called it because QUESTIONING skills is the single most powerful skills that I realise in recent years. I pick this, say, over ‘training’, ‘presentation’ or ‘facilitation’ as the underlying concept for the blog name because QUESTIONING skills is more basic, primary, fundamental, original…. It is the bricks for the skyscrapers. It is in fact the necessary element for training, presentation or facilitation. More than that, this skill is also the building block for coaching and selling.

In the training / presentation / facilitation world, asking questions can yield you a lot of benefits:

  • Uncover participants’ need
  • Give yourself thinking time
  • Show interest on the participants
  • Compel the others to think
  • Check understanding

In the selling world, on top of the above benefits, asking questions can let you:

  • Control conversation

And in the coaching world, again on top of the above benefits, asking questions can also make your coachee to:

  • Explore more options
  • Take ownership

I thus pick questioning skills. I want this blog to be as original as questioning skills to the others. And of course, I want to master wonderful questioning skills. The natural first step is to ask more questions, and tell less, before we care about how the powerful the questions are. Having said that, it is not easy to ask rather than tell. In fact, the more knowledgable you become about the topic, the more tempting it is to tell a lot. The Curse of Knowledge.

So, ‘Ask, Not Tell’ is the best choice. It is a concrete tip for us to master questioning skills – one of the most important building blocks for many soft skills.

2007 – ‘You’ve got to find what you love’

I am sitting at my home and enjoying Internet with wine and Jazz. Quiet and comfortable.

2007 is coming to an end soon. I love 2007 as I manage to accomplish the major objectives which I sat out at the beginning of the year. More importantly, I love it because I can do what I like this year- training. It is amazing how things will work out itself when you do something you like. You will naturally spend your extra effort or take extra risk to accomplish things…. and the best part is that you enjoy the process!! As Steve Jobs said in the 2005 graduation address to the Stanford student ‘You’ve got to find what you love’. Let me extract a small paragraph from his speech:

‘…. Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary…’

I guess I am lucky. I wish that you can find what you like as well. And I wish this happens to you in 2008!! A wonderful 2008!


I add a new widget on the right – Download. It will contain:

  • bonus information for my participants in specific class;
  • some useful training tool e.g. the powerpoint time clock.

Hope you will find it useful!


  • 给予曾参加我课的学员的额外信息
  • 一些上课有用的工具,例:powerpoint倒数钟