To be successful in business you must get the:

  1. Right PEOPLE 
  2. Put them together in the right TEAMS
  3. In the right ENVIRONMENT
  4. Asking the right QUESTIONS


People are too important to be left to HR and recruiting departments for hiring.

While times have changed for most business functions, it seems that the HR and recruiting departments are stuck in a time warp back in 1975.  HR and recruiting still relies on the dogma of hiring practices that are now 100 years old.

Consider that, generally, interviewing accuracy has not improved.  Quality of hire has not increased and everyone still makes excuses. Companies and governments still post really boring jobs, hoping to find exceptional people. Presentation is still more important than performance. Managers still over-trust their gut. And everyone still gets seduced by first impressions.

People like to hire people like themselves.

We still preclude people who have great ability, but without the so-called “proper” background or mandatory years of experience. In our rush to hire we still ignore the needs of those being hired and how they make decisions. Nearly everyone in marketing would know this is backwards.

Perhaps the reason Human Resource Recruiting doesn’t naturally have a “measure and improve everything” attitude is because their performance never depends on it.

Here Are Some Key ‘X Factor’ Points for Selecting the Right People

1) Define the job in terms of measurable performance objectives. 

2) Measure the hiring manager’s ability to attract, inspire, develop and retain top people as their number one performance objective.

3) Understand how people think, solve problems, work in teams, their vision and values.

4) Hire A and A+ Types with the right aptitude and attitude (motivation and temperament).

“I am convinced that nothing we do is more important than hiring and developing people.  At the end of the day, you bet on people, not on strategies.” – Lawrence Bossidy, Former Chief Operating Officer, General Electric

“Great vision without great people is irrelevant.”Jim Collins Author, Good to Great

Steve Jobs Speaks at WWDC07 by Ben Stanfield, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

A Players Hire A+ Players

Steve Jobs believed that A players hire A players; people who are as good as they are. Actually, A players hire A+ players.  It is clear that B players hire C players so they can feel superior to them, and C players hire D players. If you start hiring B players, expect what Steve called “the bozo explosion” to happen in your organisation.  

“You need to have a collaborative hiring process.”Steve Jobs, Former CEO of Apple

One of the most important things that made Microsoft successful was Bill Gates‘ devotion to hiring the best people. If you hire all A people, he said, they’ll also hire A people. But if you hire B people, they’ll hire the C people and then it’s all over. This was certainly true at Microsoft.

There were huge branches of the Microsoft tree filled with great people; these businesses were perennially successful (Office, Windows, and the developer products). But there were also branches that were just not as successful: MSN failed again and again and again; Microsoft Money took forever to get going, and Microsoft Consulting Services is full of airheads. In each of these cases, it’s pretty clear that a B leader built up a business unit full of C players and it just didn’t work.

“If we weren’t still hiring great people and pushing ahead at full speed, it would be easy to fall behind and become some mediocre company.” – Bill Gates, CEO of Microsoft

‘Mediocrity – 1000 mediocre people are not better than one genius.’

“Never hire someone who knows less than you do about what he’s hired to do.” – Malcolm Forbes, Former Publisher of Forbes.

Malcolm Stevenson Forbes (August 19, 1919 – February 24, 1990) was the publisher of Forbes magazine. Forbes is an American business magazine owned by Forbes, Inc. Published biweekly, it features original articles on finance, industry, investing, and marketing topics.

Forbes also reports on related subjects such as technology, communications, science, and law. Its headquarters are in New York City.

The magazine is well known for its lists and rankings, including its lists of the richest Americans (the Forbes 400) and rankings of the world’s top companies (the Forbes Global 2000). A 2009 New York Times report said: “40 per cent of the enterprise was sold… for a reported $300 million, setting the value of the enterprise at $750 million.

“If each of us hires people who are smaller than we are, we shall become a company of dwarfs.  But if each of us hires people who are bigger than we are, we shall become a company of giants.”David Oglivy, Former CEO of Oglivy & Mather

Ogilvy & Mather was founded in 1948 by David Ogilvy and today is an international advertising, marketing and public relations agency based in Manhattan, and is a WPP company. It operates 450 offices in 120 countries with approximately 18,000 employees.  Ogilvy was acquired by the WPP Group in 1989 for $864 million.

‘Schools and Universities teach people what to think and not how to think.’

Don’t Focus on Degrees

Employees should focus on skills – NOT college degrees.

By using a college degree as a requirement, employers are automatically overlooking people that are capable but have no degree.  Plus it is not the key X Factor.


Many people think that brainpower is the key to success. I know plenty of brilliant poor people and dumb rich people. Smarts has nothing to do with it. Sure, brains give you an edge, but it is not the X factor of success. – Armstrong Williams

“I studied everything but never topped… But today the toppers of the best universities are my employees.” – Bill Gates, CEO of Microsoft

Armstrong Williams a multi-media wonder is called “one of the most recognised conservative voices in America” by The Washington Post. He is a pugnacious, provocative and principled voice in America’s public debate.

He has a daily television show, The Armstrong Williams Show. Armstrong is a regular guest on any number of shows on networks like CNN, C-SPAN, BC, CBS and CNBC, or as a regular guest commentator on the Fox Network and America’s Black Forum.

Armstrong’s thoughtful column, syndicated with the Los Angeles Times, as well as numerous guest columns have appeared in newspapers large and small across the country, among them USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Times, and The Detroit Free Press.

“I would rather be surrounded by smart people than have a huge budget. Smart people will get you there faster.” – former McKinsey associate as quoted in The McKinsey Way by Ethan Rasiel

McKinsey & Company, Inc. is an American global management consulting firm that focuses on solving issues of concern to senior management. The firm serves as an adviser to businesses, governments, and institutions around the world.  Founded in 1926 with headquarters in New York. Revenue $7.8 billion with 17,000 employees (9,000 consultants).

Between 2002 and 2014, McKinsey has been ranked in the number one position of the “The Best Consulting Firms: Prestige” list of the career intelligence website and was referred to as the “most prestigious consulting firm of all” in a 2011 New York Times article. As of September 2013, over 100 McKinsey offices exist in 60 countries. 

Current Employment Approach Fails Within the First 18 Months

Research has tracked 20,000 new hires, 46{f8b747bac76aa26ad97b3b0c3dc8e57548395bef2f5bd1bf07704d9e7dce35d2} of them failed within 18 months. But even more surprising than the failure rate was that when new hires failed, 89{f8b747bac76aa26ad97b3b0c3dc8e57548395bef2f5bd1bf07704d9e7dce35d2} of the time it was for attitudinal reasons and only 11{f8b747bac76aa26ad97b3b0c3dc8e57548395bef2f5bd1bf07704d9e7dce35d2} of the time for a lack of skill. The attitudinal deficits that doomed these failed hires included a lack of coachability, low levels of emotional intelligence, motivation and temperament.

It’s not that technical skills aren’t important, but they’re much easier to assess (that’s why attitude, not skills, is the top predictor of a new hire’s success or failure).

Virtually every job (from neurosurgeon to engineer to the cashier) has tests that can assess technical proficiency. But what those tests don’t assess is an attitude; whether a candidate is motivated to learn new skills, think innovatively, cope with failure, assimilate feedback and coaching, collaborate with teammates, and so forth.

“A company should limit its growth based on its ability to attract enough of the right people.” – Jim Collins, Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… And Others Don’t


Getting the RIGHT PEOPLE in the right jobs is the most important success factor.

“Getting the right people in the right jobs is a lot more important than developing a strategy.” Jack Welch

Jack was chairman and CEO of General Electric (GE) between 1981 and 2001. During his tenure at GE, the company’s value rose 4,000%.  In 2012, Welch’s net worth was estimated at $750 million.

When he retired from GE he took a severance payment of $417 million, the largest such payment in history.

“Innovation has nothing to do with how many R&D dollars you have. When Apple came up with the Mac, IBM was spending at least 100 times more on R&D. It’s not about money. It’s about the people you have, how you’re led, and how much you get it.” – Steve Jobs, Fortune, Nov 9, 1998

Example: It took just 600 Apple engineers less than two years to develop, debug, and deploy OS X, a revolutionary change in the company’s operating system. By contrast, it took as many as 10,000 engineers more than five years to develop, debug, deploy, and eventually retract Microsoft’s Windows Vista.

Steven Paul “Steve” Jobs was an American entrepreneur, marketer, and inventor, who was the co-founder, chairman, and CEO of Apple Inc.  Apple is the largest publicly traded corporation in the world by market capitalization, with an estimated value of US$626 billion as of September 2012.

Apple Inc’s market cap is larger than that of Google and Microsoft combined. Apple’s worldwide annual revenue in 2010 totalled US$65 billion, growing to US$127.8 billion in 2011 and $156 billion in 2012.

“If we weren’t still hiring great people and pushing ahead at full speed, it would be easy to fall behind and become some mediocre company.” – Bill Gates, CEO of Microsoft

William Henry “Bill” Gates III is an American business magnate, philanthropist, investor, computer programmer, and inventor. Gates is the former chief executive and chairman of Microsoft, the world’s largest personal computer software company.

He is consistently ranked in the Forbes list of the world’s wealthiest people and was the wealthiest overall from 1995 to 2009—excluding 2008 when he was ranked third; in 2011 he was the wealthiest American and the world’s second wealthiest person. 

According to the Bloomberg Billionaires List, Gates became the world’s richest person again in 2013, a position that he last held on the list in 2007. As of March 2014, he is the richest.

“Great vision without great people is irrelevant.” – Jim Collins Author, Good to Great

James C. “Jim” Collins, III is an American business consultant, author, and lecturer on the subject of company sustainability and growth. Collins began his research and teaching career at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business.

Jim has authored or co-authored six bestselling books based on his research: Great by Choice, Good to Great, Good to Great and the Social Sectors, How the Mighty Fall, Built to Last and Beyond Entrepreneurship.  He also was a senior executive at CNN International.

“Problems created by the many are fixed by the few.”

Wayne Larkin

The number 1 priority in any organisation is to hire the right people for the job.


People work, play, laugh and succeed better in Teams.

A Teams

Focusing on having strong teams in lieu of investing money into research and development was central to Apple’s success and a result of Steve Jobs’ philosophy. Apple chose not to invest its revenue into R&D and opted for spontaneous hallway meetings between two or more innovators, brainstorming solutions to everyday issues.

We’re gambling on our vision, and we would rather do that than make “me too” products. Let some other companies do that. For us, it’s always the next dream.

Good organisations are always looking for the right talent and their acquisition never stops.  They don’t wait for positions to become available.  They always have positions for the right people.

“It all starts with hiring the right people.”

Wayne Larkin


Getting X Factor Performance From Your People

If you have the right people to get the best performance from them you need to create the right environment. The right people want to work in the best environments with the best people and tools. They want to be empowered and supported to achieve great results. 

Create the WOW factor in the environment to get the X Factor performance from your people. Environments reflect an organisation’s culture. 

Most corporate and government offices are made up of fluorescent lights, bare beige or grey walls, dated technology, and the dreaded cube farm. Humans like to be happy and have fun; not treated like barn hens.

We know that hierarchy, bureaucracy and mediocrity kills innovation, creativity and productivity. They are not efficient, effective or agile.  It is difficult for them to attract, inspire and retain the best talent.  They usually are unable to create a happy, innovative and productive environment for their people. 

“I am convinced that if the rate of change inside an organisation is less than the rate of change outside the end is in sight.” – Jack Welch was chairman and CEO of General Electric

Some Key Environmental Success Factors

So, let’s look at one of the best innovative, fun and productive environments to see what we can learn.

Fortune Magazine Names Google the 2014 “Best Company to Work For”. This marks their fifth time at the top of the list. 

What makes working at Google truly unique is the workplace environment that encourages innovation, productivity and a healthy disregard for the impossible. Google’s success can also be attributed to its environment. Google has people whose sole job is to keep employees happy and maintain productivity. 

Culture is crucial to success. With any organisation, it all starts with people. And if you want to run a great organisation you need great people. One way to get them there and keep them is by making their work fun. As Mark Twain said: “Work and play are words used to describe the same thing under differing conditions.”

Creating an Office for Work and Play

When you want people to think creatively and push the boundaries of what’s possible, their workspace shouldn’t be a drab maze of beige or grey cubicles. Like most of Google’s decisions, data shows that these spaces have a positive impact on productivity, collaboration and inspiration. Simply put, Google aims to make their offices a place that people want to be. 

Google’s philosophy: “to create the happiest, most productive workplace in the world.”  This should be the philosophy of all organisations. 

It Also Worked for The Walt Disney Company

Beginning as a cartoon studio in the 1920s.  Walt Disney set out to make Disneyland “The Happiest Place on Earth” and now The Walt Disney Company is the world’s largest media and entertainment company in the world. 

There is something in people being ‘happy’ and ‘passionate’ that achieves peak performance.

The Attractor

Getting the best people to come to you is a very effective human resource strategy. Each year, Google gets over 2.5 million applicants. That’s equal to 6,849 per day and about 5 per minute – and Google reviews each one. Because it’s the people that make Google what they are today.

It is critical to Attract, Inspire and Keep the Right People.

If organisations want to attract top-tiered talent that isn’t consumed by making money, they’ll need to focus on making a great working environment. This includes the work atmosphere, the work done, to employee freedom.

It All Starts at Reviewing the Management Jobs (The Buck Stops There)

When Google wanted to know how to develop better leaders, the company went to employees and asked what they needed.

In Google’s ‘Project Oxygen‘, the statisticians gathered more than 10,000 observations about managers — across more than 100 variables, from various performance reviews, feedback surveys and other reports. Then they spent time coding the comments in order to look for patterns.

“The starting point was that our best managers have teams that perform better, are retained better, are happier – they do everything better.” 

People typically leave a company for one of three reasons, or a combination of them: 

  1. They don’t feel a connection to the mission of the organisation, or sense that their work matters. 
  2. They don’t really like or respect their co-workers. 
  3. They have a terrible boss (and this was the biggest variable). 

Google saw huge swings in the ratings that employees gave to their bosses. Google found managers had a much greater impact on employees’ performance and how they felt about their job than any other factor.

What employees valued most were stable and consistent bosses who made time for one-on-one meetings, who helped people puzzle through problems by asking questions, not dictating answers, and who took an interest in employees’ lives and careers.

Google Has Identified 8 Management Tips 

  1. Be a good coach
  2. Empower your team and don’t micromanage
  3. Express interest in team member’s success and personal well being
  4. Don’t be a sissy: Be productive and results-oriented
  5. Be a good communicator and listen to your team
  6. Help your employees with career development
  7. Have a clear vision and strategy for the team
  8. Have key relevant skills so you can help advise them

A Warm Greeting for New Employees 

A warm greeting for a new employee turns out to have a big impact. A manager greeting a new employee with “Hi nice to meet you, you’re on my team, we’re going to be working together” and doing “a few other things” leads to a 15% increase in productivity over the following nine months. Words have a lasting impact.

Individual Contribution

Everyone should have a chance to contribute, people should not be discouraged and there should be time to allow ideas to develop.  Google developers get to spend 20 per cent of their working hours (a day at work) on side projects. It was an attempt to give employees the time and space to think innovatively.


Working together in teams helps to develop ideas and use ways to encourage the introverts in the group to speak up because they have ideas too! If the conversation gets stuck in a loop, then try to move the discussion on so that there is fluency and if you do this then you should be able to encourage those genius ideas to come out.

Innovation Teams

A more systematic way of promoting creativity in the workplace is to set up innovation teams. Each innovation team will be tasked to come up with ideas on how to improve the work process of a particular aspect. Deadlines are to be set to ensure that the teams present their ideas and be rewarded if they are excellent. When done properly, this will signal to everyone that the organisation values work-related creativity and employees.


Employees may be unwilling to take risks because they do not know whether the organisation supports creative innovation. This is when you need to guide the organisation in the right direction and show that creativity is highly valued. This has a lot to do with how receptive you are to their ideas, and how you make known your intention to be a more innovative organisation.


One reason why employees are not thinking out-of-the-box or coming up with a solution that is vastly different from how things used to be done is that they may be afraid of the repercussions of making mistakes. Risk-taking has to be encouraged and be seen as a norm in the organisation. Developing a creative culture takes time, but it starts off with management being more open-minded and less judgemental to the suggestions by employees.

Most Valued Asset the People

The more you value your assets the more careful you are in selection and looking after them.  Managers who employ the wrong people usually also mismanage them and then blame the employee for their mistakes.

Support and Reward Creativity

  • Create Innovation Teams with clear briefings and realistic timelines
  • Diversity among Employees and Teams is critical
  • Create a positive working Environment 


Employees need to be empowered before they can start coming up with great ideas. You’ll find that even the most unimaginative worker becomes creative when he has a stake in the outcome of a project.

Give a Good Briefing to the Right People

  • Get agreement and buy-in from the individual or team members for achievable outcomes 
  • Support the project, the individual or the team
  • Provide appropriate resources (human and financial) and
  • Give authority to the team to complete the project successfully

“If you give people tools, and they use their natural abilities and their curiosity, they will develop things in ways that will surprise you very much beyond what you might have expected.” – Bill Gates

“The vision is really about empowering workers giving them all the information about what’s going on so they can do a lot more than they’ve done in the past.” – Bill Gates

“As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.” – Bill Gates

“Don’t tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results.” – General George S. Patton (4 Star General)

George Smith Patton, Jr. (November 11, 1885 – December 21, 1945) was a general in the United States Army, best known for his command of the Seventh United States Army, and later the Third United States Army, in the European Theatre of World War II.  His strong emphasis on rapid and aggressive offensive action proved effective.

Patton’s great oratory skill is seen as integral to his ability to inspire troops under his command. He was regarded highly by his opponents in the German High Command.  German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel (the Desert Fox) credited Patton with executing “the most astonishing achievement in mobile warfare.”

The physical environment and tools must also reflect the innovation and productivity here are some Top 20 Most Awesome Company Offices for inspiration:

“Great leaders create innovative and productive environments.”

Wayne Larkin

The 3 priorities in any organisation are to create the right environment for the right people and the right teams. So, they thrive and you retain them.


Ask the Right Questions to Get the Best Outcomes

“The scientist is not a person who gives the right answers, he is one who asks the right questions.” – Claude Lévi-Strauss (1908 – 2009)

Claude Lévi-Strauss was a French anthropologist and ethnologist, and has been called, along with James George Frazer and Franz Boas, the “father of modern anthropology”.  He argued that the “savage” mind had the same structures as the “civilized” mind and that human characteristics are the same everywhere.

These observations culminated in his famous book Tristes Tropiques, which positioned him as one of the central figures in the structuralist school of thought, where his ideas reached into many fields in the humanities, as well as sociology and philosophy. Structuralism has been defined as “the search for the underlying patterns of thought in all forms of human activity.”

And Claude was right.

Asking the right questions is the essence of good science, design and problem-solving. Insightful questions can challenge accepted models and turn the way we think about a concept on its head.

You still need a curious, inquiring mind to come up with the right answers – but some of the most exciting scientific discoveries would never have happened, without that initial spark of inspiration from someone asking a really good question. 

Research into Award-Winning Work

After more than 250 interviews and 10,000 descriptions of award-winning work analysed as part of a comprehensive study on great work. When they traced the genesis of innovation and value creation back to its source, the surprise was to see how many times it began with ‘asking the right question’.

The right question can be a disruptive agent, cutting through years of complacency to redirect a team or organisations focus. It serves as a pointer, aiming us in the direction of the answer. 

As Einstein put it: “If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on it, I would use the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask, for once I know the proper question, I could solve the problem in less than five minutes.”

From the research, the following three practical assists can inform and enhance the quality of the questions we ask, and lead to great work.


When a person opens their mind to the kind of ideas that come quietly, they unveil the deeper, richer thoughts that are too easily chased away by the adrenaline of taking immediate action. Spend some time alone with your thoughts. Pause to let the purpose of your initiative marinate, percolate, and simmer. In the early stages of a difference-making quest, the simple act of paying attention to your thoughts can provide the few degrees of adjustment that brings about the greatest innovation. Everyone has hunches, impressions, and the fragile beginnings of new ideas still forming. Absorb them. Listen to them. Take counsel from them.


Who will the work or the product benefit? What are they trying to do? What do they value? What do they hope for? I love the question Clayton Christensen posed in The Innovator’s Solution, “what is the job this [product] is being hired to do?” What is hoped for, what outcome is desired, and what benefit will this solution provide to the beneficiary of your work?


What would the beneficiary of your work really love? Not just like. Not just feel better about. But what difference would they love? That question in particular seems to activate a deeply human power of creative energy inside us. It seems to open our minds beyond the ordinariness of what “is” in favour of what “could be”. 

In most of our interviews, we were intrigued by how many unique versions of this root question appeared, and the impressive effect it had on outcomes.

The Effect of Asking the Right Questions is Statistically Profound 

The research showed that asking the right question had the following effects on outcomes:

  • The number of times that someone’s work would have a positive effect on others 
  • The number of times that the outcome would be deemed important 
  • 2.8 times more effective to create passion in the doer and perhaps most significant to organisation leaders 
  • 2.7 times more likely to make a positive impact on the organisation’s bottom line

“The right question will significantly influence your ability to produce the kind of products, services and outcomes that people will love.” – Research David Sturt, with the O.C. Tanner Institute, is the author of the New York Times Bestseller book – Great Work: How to Make a Difference People Love.

“The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.” – Albert Einstein (1879 – 1955)

Albert Einstein was a German-born theoretical physicist who revolutionised our understanding of Physics and of the Universe.  One of the greatest physicists in history.  Albert Einstein, Time Magazine’s “Person of the Century”.

His name is now synonymous with genius, we all understand what a phrase like “he’s not an Einstein” means.  He developed the general theory of relativity, one of the two pillars of modern physics (alongside quantum mechanics).

While best known for his mass-energy equivalence formula E = mc2 (which has been dubbed “the world’s most famous equation”), he received the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics “for his services to theoretical physics, and especially for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect”. The latter was pivotal in establishing quantum theory.

Lest we forget he worked in the patent office, as an assistant examiner. So, you never know where genius ideas are going to come from.

“The most serious mistakes are not being made as a result of wrong answers. The truly dangerous thing is asking the wrong questions.” Peter Drucker – Men, Ideas & Politics

Peter Ferdinand Drucker (1909 – 2005) was an Austrian-born American management consultant, educator, and author, whose writings contributed to the philosophical and practical foundations of the modern business corporation.

He was also a leader in the development of management education, and he invented the concept known as management by objectives.  Drucker’s 39 books have been translated into more than thirty-six languages.

He also penned a regular column in the Wall Street Journal for 10 years and contributed frequently to the Harvard Business Review, The Atlantic Monthly, and The Economist.

“Unlike top management at Enron, exemplary leaders reward dissent. They encourage it. They understand that, whatever momentary discomfort they experience as a result of being told they might be wrong, it is more than offset by the fact that the information will help them make better decisions.” Warren Bennis, New York Times, 17-2-2002

90{f8b747bac76aa26ad97b3b0c3dc8e57548395bef2f5bd1bf07704d9e7dce35d2} of getting the right solution is putting your efforts and total focus into understanding and defining the problem correctly while asking the right questions.

From the right questions, the solutions will flow and become much more obvious. Remember: Experts usually have all the right answers to all the wrong questions.

“Get the right people in the right environment asking the right questions”

Wayne Larkin

As I said at the beginning of this article, the number 4 priority is asking the right questions for business success.

HUMOUR & TRUTH – The Right Question

“If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they’ll kill you.” – Oscar Wilde, The Nightingale and the Rose

Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde (1854–1900) was an Irish writer and poet. After writing in different forms throughout the 1880s, he became one of London’s most popular playwrights in the early 1890s.

Today he is remembered for his epigrams, his only novel (The Picture of Dorian Gray), his plays, and the circumstances of his imprisonment for 2 years under hard labour and early death.

Upon release from prison, he left for France and died destitute in Paris at the age of 46.

Ask the Right Question

Sean and Paddy are walking from religious Catholic service. Sean wonders whether it would be all right to smoke while praying. Paddy replies, “Why don’t you ask the Priest?”

So Sean goes up to the Priest and asks, “Priest, may I smoke while I pray?”

But the Priest says, “No, my son, you may not. That’s utter disrespect to our religion and God.”

Sean goes back to his friend and tells him what the good Priest told him. Paddy says, “I’m not surprised. You asked the wrong question. Let me try. “And so Paddy goes up to the Priest and asks, “Priest, may I pray while I smoke?” To which the Priest eagerly replies, “By all means, my son… by all means.”

Moral: The answer you get depends on the way you ask the question.

Hunters Emergency

Two hunters are out in the woods when one of them collapses. He doesn’t seem to be breathing and his eyes are glazed. The other guy whips out his phone and calls the emergency services. He gasps, “My friend is dead! What can I do?” The operator says “Calm down. I can help. First, let’s make sure he’s dead.” There is a silence, then a gunshot is heard. Back on the phone, the guy says “OK, now what?”

Moral: The action you get depends on the way you ask the question.


The CIA had an opening for an assassin. After all of the background checks, interviews, and testing were done there were three finalists, two men and a woman. For the final test, the CIA agents took the first man to a large metal door and handed him a gun.

“We must know that you will follow your instructions, no matter what the circumstances. Inside this room, you will find your wife sitting in a chair. Kill her!!!”

“You can’t be serious,” said the man, “I could never shoot my wife.”

The agent said, “Then you’re not the right man for this job.”

The second man was given the same instructions. He took the gun and went into the room. All was quiet for about five minutes. Then the man came out with tears in his eyes. “I tried,” he said, “but I can’t kill my wife.”

The agent said, “You don’t have what it takes; take your wife and go home.”

Finally, it was the woman’s turn. She was given the same instructions, to kill her husband. She took the gun and went into the room. Shots were heard, one after another, until the clip was empty. Then they heard screaming, crashing, and banging on the walls. After a few minutes, all was quiet. The door opened slowly and there stood the woman.

She wiped the sweat from her brow and said, “Somebody loaded the gun with blanks. I had to beat him to death with the chair.”

Moral: Also, always be transparent so people know the truth of the situation.

To contact Wayne Larkin email him at