Are you sure?

One of my favorite new questions to ask is “Are you sure?”

As I’ve been helping Techstars CEO Maëlle Gavet get up to speed, I noticed she’s been asking me that question quite often! I’m pretty certain that she asks many people at Techstars this same question too.

When I’m asked “are you sure?”, it forces me to stop and think about whether or not what I’m saying is purely opinion, or if I have data to back it up.

Many of us have strongly held opinions, and this simple question quickly forces the recipient to consider where that opinion is coming from. I’ve noticed that the way that Maëlle asks it does not carry a doubtful tone. It’s just a question.

It reminds me of a great book I read a while ago called Thinking in Bets. Every answer (opinion) we give can be qualified with a confidence level. How sure are we that we are right? What percentage of certainty do we have? If it’s just an opinion without data, we probably aren’t that sure. Whether it’s 0%, 25%, or 60% matters quite a bit!

It pairs nicely with the other frequently used phrase that I’ve already heard Maëlle using recently. “In God we trust. All others must bring data.”

file under: Startups