A better question to determine value?

One of my favorite Peter Drucker aphorisms is “Don’t solve problems, pursue opportunities.”

Solving problems only restores you to yesterday, whereas opportunities are about the future.

One question we recommend firms ask customers to help comprehend value is, “What keeps you up at night?”

I know many sales consultants hate this question, and it has become cliche. I’ve never really liked it either, but never really thought about why, since I still found it useful.

But in the spirit of Drucker, how about this question instead: “What gets you up in the morning?” What keeps you committed, engaged, excited?

Might this be a better question to help companies seek opportunities? Not to mention to get an understanding of their “Why” (Purpose)?

Would love your thoughts.


  1. Ron, this is awesome thinking. Peter Block would love it as a great example of a question which both inverts and extends the original question.

    It reminds me of Viktor Frankl’s famous quote, “He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.”

  2. I like the question Ron.

    How about this question:

    What is missing today that would increase your energy, excitement, and accelerate your company’s future?

    Focuses the conversation to the future and addresses only those issues and obstacles that are preventing/slowing that future.

    Helps eliminate the noise, and allows for critical analysis of those issues to determine whether they really are preventing the future or are distracting the present. After all, you provide great value to your customer by helping them segregate the issues into “real” and “noise”.

  3. Thanks, Ed and Eric.

    Eric, I like your question, a lot. Anything that focuses on the future; opportunities over problems, or good feelings rather than just solving problems.

  4. Kathleen Shipley says:


    Your post makes me think of little kids on Christmas Eve, and that the most important thing is Christmas morning and everything that entails. Thus my question would be similar to yours, with something like:

    When you go to sleep, what part of the next day are you most looking forward to?

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