6 new notable "beautiful questions“


Hello <<First Name>>,

In the year since I published A More Beautiful Question, I’ve continued to be on the lookout for “beautiful question stories,” wherein a question leads to an innovation or a new way of thinking about a situation or problem.

Here, leading with their questions, is a short link list of recent stories that I wanted to share with you. Each of the stories behind the questions are engaging and thought provoking and I encourage you to click-through to the full article. And if you know of any linkable question stories yourself, please let me know.


What makes life worth living... quote“Why don’t you do something to help people like me?’”

As featured in Atul Gawande’s bestselling book Being Mortal, the above question was asked by a young gerontologist’s mother, who was stuck in a nursing home and just simply could not abide the loss of her privacy and freedom. That question, paired with What makes life worth living when we are old and frail and unable to care for ourselves?,” led to a breakthrough way of housing and treating older adults.  

“We protect cellphones with a PIN or fingerprint—why not firearms?”

This beautiful question by 17-year-old Kai Kloepfer led to his engineering a smart gun that can be fired only by an authorized user, thus making it impossible for curious kids to harm themselves or others.   

“Is there a way to reformat the conference or do away with it altogether, replacing it with something more intellectually, professionally and socially satisfying for everyone?”

Academic conferences are a habit from the past, asserts Christy Wampole in her Opinionator column titled “The Conference Manifesto.” She’s especially tired of boring and unilluminating speakers. In fact, she asks, “If this is what the humanities have become, should they continue to exist?”
  • Read “The Conference Manifesto” with Wampole’s 10 point contract she wishes were in force for every academic conference.           

“How could I succeed in building a company that reduces stress for poor people?”

This is the beautiful question that eventually led to Even, a new app that smoothes out pay over time, so that poorer people or people with insecure incomes don’t have to rely on payday loans or go without during lean income weeks. 
  • Read how 28-year-old Even founder Jon Schlossberg developed his beautiful question, in the New York Times Magazine article “Balancing Act.” 

“What if we could construct an ‘emotional aid’ for people with ‎autism?”

Rana el Kaliouby of Affectiva, a startup that is developing emotion sensing machines, found her raison d’être by pursuing the above beautiful question.  

“In an era of low crime, do we sit on our hands waiting for crime to tick up, or can we do something to drive crime even lower?”

Chip Brown’s article about NYC district attorney Cyrus Vance is a portrait of a transformational leader who believes in the power of questions—such as, “What is the job of the D.A?” and “Are we doing everything possible to reduce crime?” The answers to his beautiful questions are changing NYC—and other cities are paying attention.
I’ve also been collecting readers’ beautiful questions on my “What’s Your Beautiful Question?” page. Check it out when you have a moment. 

Thank you, as always, for your interest in AMBQ, and I hope to continue the conversation with you either via Twitter, Facebook, or on the AMBQ blog.

P.S. Miss any past newsletters? Find them here.


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