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This Non-Financial Skill Saved My Career — and We All Have the Ability to Harness It This skill is an under-appreciated tool hiding in plain sight.

By Ross Cameron

Key Takeaways

  • Questions are the gateway to answers and to progress.
  • Few people in history are as accomplished as Albert Einstein — yet he was the one who said: "The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing."
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Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The skill I'm talking about is asking questions. Too often, it seems like a risk to ask questions:

  • "What if they think it's a dumb question?"
  • "What if it was covered before, and I somehow missed it?"
  • Or the more general: "Smart people have answers; kids learning in school have questions."

I'm convinced that questions get into a deeper part of your brain than statements do. Statements elicit a reaction of: "Is this true or not; do I believe this or not?" in your brain.

Questions open up a whole horizon of possible thoughts. For example, let's say I ask you: "What's an example of something you previously thought was 100% obvious in your business, but you later discovered that the reality was much more nuanced?" Your thoughts won't be about true/false. To answer that question, you need to go deeply into your experiences.

Related: The Most Successful People in the World Ask Questions Constantly. Here's How to Master the Art of Asking Questions

Here's how asking the right questions saved my day-trading career

I threw myself into learning day trading and had some beginner's luck. The following year, I gave back all my profits and some. I was careful with my money, but no matter how hard I worked, the trend line was not good. At one point, I was heavily in debt, had sold everything I could on Craigslist, and was down to my last chance at day trading.

My desire to figure out how to survive as a day trader led me to ask the most fundamental of questions: "I've made lots of trades over the last many months. What patterns or factors can I discover around my profitable trades that differ from those in my unprofitable trades?"

I could ask this question because I kept a trading journal. I not only had my trade data but also wrote down my strategy at the time I took each trade.

Long story short: I discovered that my profitable trades had five common denominators. They related to things like how much the stock was up compared to the closing price on the previous day, plus other factors concerning price, volume and news.

Those insights were the key to righting my day trading boat. Since then, I have not only continued to trade but also have a business that involves day trading software, instructional material, and an active community of traders. Asking the right questions has continued to be one of my go-to tactics for gaining insights. In fact, it can be core to your competitive positioning.

Related: Get Your Ego Out of the Way and Ask for Help When You Need It

Defining your unique selling proposition

Your "USP" is all about how you stand out among your competition. Day trading is a profession full of brash, boasting traders. Many of them brag about a few great trades. But how have they done, all trades considered? That's a question that few of my competitors have published an answer to. Even beginner traders know that no one enjoys an unbroken string of trading conquests. I therefore asked myself: "How can I differentiate myself from all the other day-trading offerings?" I found an answer to my question — be the most transparent. That led me to publish audited brokerage statements that cover every one of the 20,000+ trades I've made.

I continue to do daily recaps of my trading, including when I get my butt kicked.

Related: Asking for Help Might Be the Key to Your Success

Three other types of questions I ask

1. Asking for confirmation. Let's say I've just gone over some detailed instructions and goals with someone in my organization. I don't have to wonder whether we're on the same page, because I can ask: "We've gone over a lot. How would you state in your own words what we're trying to do?" Very quickly I'll have my answer, and can make adjustments if necessary.

2. Asking for targeted learning and troubleshooting. They say it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert at something. But I've found it's not the sheer number of hours that counts; it's what you're doing in those hours. Are you mindlessly hitting a ball or practicing a specific swing? If you're trying to improve your sales chops, then deliberate practice involves asking yourself questions like: "What are all the unique ways I can find where master salespeople address the objection of: 'I'll have to think about it and get back to you.'" Another example: "Why is my webinar attendance higher than ever, but my conversion rate is slipping?"

3. Targeted planning. If I'm feeling overwhelmed by the hundred things on my list, I ask: "What three projects will have the biggest effect on my goals?" There's an even more fundamental question: "Where do I want to be three months from now?"

Ross Cameron

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

Founder of Warrior Trading

Ross Cameron turned Great Recession joblessness into day trading success. He turned $583.15 into over $10M (results not typical), while sharing his insights on YouTube. He's also the founder of Warrior Trading, a subscription platform for chat rooms, educational content and trading tools.

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