Debra Swersky
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The Likelihood

In Adam Grant’s book, “Give and Take” I read a game-changing statement. It was a statement that actually changed the way that I look at my business and life mission:

By asking people questions about their plans and intentions, we increase the likelihood that they actually act on these plans and intentions.

Whoa. Yes. Duh. Of course!... I care about new employees/customers. I also care about start-up companies. (That’s the LBD Producers side of me.) I want the experience for both new employees/customers at a company and for the company onboarding the new employee/customer to be smooth so that they can both experience the growth and development that they deserve. This is the “work” that I feel strongly about and it’s what I talk about to those that I meet almost everyday here in Dallas. 

But here’s the game-changing, life-mission-altering, realization: Just by asking the questions about onboarding and training I am making an impact on the community. By questioning companies about how they onboard new hires and introduce customers to their company and product, they are now thinking about how they are doing just that. Fundamentally, this is product marketing.

The statement of study in “Give and Take” goes on to further say that “Research shows that if I ask you whether you’re planning to buy a new computer in the next six months, you’ll be 18 percent more likely to go out and get one.” (Unfortunately, given my predilection for Apple devices, this is an accurate statement.) “But it only works if you already feel good about the intention that the question targets.” (Fortunately, Apple has not let me down in the device-department.)

Further in context, back in 2013 a friend of mine at Babson asked me if I was interested in going to Ghana on a study abroad trip. Thinking to myself, “Ghana? Why would I want to go there?” and scoffing further thought about it… I remember the change of heart that I experienced when she started to ask me questions about “experiencing something new” and “stepping out of my comfort zone.” Though I wasn’t exactly jumping for joy at the time of considering the opportunity to go to Ghana, I had been thinking about doing something new and potentially transformative (consciously and subconsciously). 

Two years later, I have not only experienced Ghana, but also Rwanda, and had several other new life experiences that have thrown me farther and farther out of my comfort zone. As a result of one question (“Are you interested in going to Ghana for study abroad?”) I realized the interest that I had in teaching and training others, I understood the power of entrepreneurship education (for both myself and others), and I started a non-profit to inspire youth entrepreneurs and equip them with the resources that they need to develop social and economic value for their communities and the world ( 

Having recently read this statement, and in reflecting on my conversations regarding onboarding and training to date, I understand that the simple act of questioning can change the entire game plan and make the world a better place.

Debra Swersky