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The Power of Questions with Cal Fussman

Calvin ‘Cal’ Fussman is world-renowned as a master of interviewing. Throughout his award-winning career as a journalist and author, he’s interviewed hundreds of names that have shaped history, including Mikhail Gorbachev, Jeff Bezos, George Clooney, Dr. Dre, Richard Branson, Robert DeNiro, Quincy Jones, and Serena Williams.

Cal is also known for his role as a Writer-at-Large for Esquire magazine and his ‘What I’ve Learned’ column, for which he interviews leaders from every field. Cal has spoken at our KwikBrain events and is a valued friend of the podcast!

A New York Times best-selling author, Cal is the author of After Jackie, The Guest Who Threw Tomatoes, Kingdom Come, and Double or Nothing.

Cal now travels the world sharing the power of questions as a keynote speaker at conferences and corporate events. Cal has recently launched his own podcast that cracked the iTunes Top 50 in its first week, Big Questions.

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"Your curiosity is never lost…it might get buried for a while, but it can always come back."

Cal Fustian

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  • November 1963 — the assassination of President Kennedy and installation of new president Lyndon B. Johnson.
  • This event had a strong impact on Cal — he was in second grade and wondered: did Lyndon B. Johnson want to be president? Was he scared or sad, how did he feel? So he wrote to the White House in a letter and asked.
  • He received a letter back — this created a buzz with neighbors, at school, and it taught him a good question can get you to the most powerful person on Earth.
  • The question,’How do you feel?’, was so simple, so basic, but we hardly ever hear it.


  • All of us long to be heard.
  • If I ask how do you feel that will create a connection— it shows respect and caring. You’ll respond with that same level of respect, all because I asked the question.
  • Many people in conversations aren’t listening, they’re just waiting for a pause so they can break in.
  • Being present in the moment and asking childlike questions can do wonders.


  • As a four-year-old, you’re about as curious as you’ll be in your life.
  • Experiments show children ask up to 400 questions a day of their parents.
  • If we can somehow rekindle our childhood curiosity we’ll be asking great questions all the time.


  • School: having to put your hand up to ask a question in a big room of students creates a wall that says you’re not allowed to be as curious as you were last year.
  • This wall gets worse in high school, heightened fear of asking foolish questions at the age where you’re concerned about how others view you.
  • You don’t lose your curiosity, it can be put in the ground and buried, but it can come back.
  • Think back to the curiosity you had as a four-year-old to inform the questions you ask today.


  • Rumi quote: ‘Sell your cleverness for bewilderment.’
  • Education gives us the answers, tells us to memorize, but in the process, we forget how to ask questions.


  • Cal’s interview for Esquire for the What I’ve Learned column: read the article here.
  • Originally allocated ninety minutes to ask any questions, the interview got cut short to ten minutes.
  • Asked about his father and Gorbachev extended his time.
  • If Cal hadn’t aimed for Gorbachev’s heart first, he wouldn’t have got the longer interview.
  • Aiming for the heart is what will activate a conversation.
  • It could be as simple as asking about the photos in someone’s office — this will take the conversation to unknown places, then your curiosity will kick in and you can keep the flow going from there.



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