I’ve been a tech executive for most of my nearly 30-year career, and I’ve matured quite a bit over this period. I started out on Wall Street where everyone wanted to be the smartest person in the room and showing vulnerability came at a cost. This included being mocked if you asked a “stupid” question. Despite that, I thrived in that environment and loved working with my brilliant coworkers, but as I got older and started to manage people, I wanted to break a few bad habits.
At Storyvine, there are no stupid questions. When I train new staff, I want them to feel that they can ask whatever they want without feeling foolish. We work in tech, and the concept that Storyvine is introducing to the world (Guided Video Production) is difficult to explain to someone who is not familiar with it. If an employee doesn’t feel they are in a safe space, their adrenaline and cortisol start to flow and their ability to reason, concentrate, and remember things becomes impaired. Why set them up for failure? I’d rather answer the questions now than realize weeks down the road that they never understood something in the first place.
We benefit as a company by believing that there are no stupid questions. I love when our new staff or consultants look at our process and systems and ask, “Why are you doing it that way?” because sometimes the answer is simply, “We’ve always done it that way.” But that doesn’t mean it’s right. Maybe there’s a better way to do it and a fresh perspective can create a new, better way of doing something.
I will add a caveat to “There are no stupid questions,” and that is that I will not do your thinking for you. I admit that I have to find my patience with questions that have obvious answers, because what’s obvious to me may not be obvious to someone else. But if the answer to the question is something Google can tell you, then you probably don’t need to be asking me!
We encourage are employees to learn and trust their instincts; it’s a part of growing up in the workplace. Rely on your experience. If you’re doing your own thinking, then there are no stupid questions.