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Wait, What?: And Life's Other Essential Questions

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  1,684 Ratings  ·  228 Reviews
New York Times Bestseller

What, What? is a welcome—and joyful—reminder that true wisdom comes from asking the right questions. Should you read this book? Absolutely.”

 Clayton Christensen, bestselling author of How Will You Measure Your Life?

Based on the wildly popular commencement address, the art of asking (and answering) good questions by the Dean of Harvard University
ebook, 144 pages
Published April 4th 2017 by HarperOne
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Patreesha 'Wait, What?' is available at the Laurel County Public Library in London, KY, near you, I believe. I'm in the middle of reading the copy I borrowed…more'Wait, What?' is available at the Laurel County Public Library in London, KY, near you, I believe. I'm in the middle of reading the copy I borrowed from our local library. Got to love libraries!!(less)

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Jul 07, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: kindle
Nothing earth shattering to be found, quite straightforward and personal to the author. Publishing companies certainly seem to feel that we all need these "pearls of wisdom." Whatever! It was a quick read!
Gruia Novac
Apr 14, 2017 rated it liked it
the book has the right intention , sends the right message, but the virtues of the writer are slim.
95% redundant, unless you are a simpleton ) here is the TLDR

“Wait, what?” is at the root of all understanding.
“I wonder . . . ?” is at the heart of all curiosity.
“Couldn’t we at least . . . ?” is the beginning of all progress.
“How can I help?” is at the base of a3ll good relationships.
And “What truly matters?” helps get you to the heart of life.
if you dont know what to do, just ask !
Lubinka Dimitrova
Sometimes even the most obvious questions, when actually asked, offer marvelous revelations into the wonders of our mundane, at times boring lives. Exceptionally enjoyable book, heartfelt and insightful.
May 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Brevity is beautiful. You can easily read this book in one sitting but the lessons should endure. The 5 essential questions posed by the author are very basic, but the rationale and personal histories behind each lesson are invaluable. This book gets very personal and shares intimate details; however, the focus is on articulating and sharing practical life lessons. A few reviewers have marked this book lower because the key takeaways are so brief and obvious. But for those of us who have forgott ...more
May 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
A quick read, peppered with touching anecdotes about family. Key takeaways (mostly paraphrased quotes):

“Wait, what?” is at the root of all understanding.
“I wonder... ?” is at the heart of all curiosity.
“Couldn’t we at least... ?” is the beginning of all progress.
“How can I help?” is at the base of all good relationships.
“What truly matters?” helps get you to the heart of life.
If you don't know what to do, just ask.

"And did you get what you wanted from this life, even so?"
The "even so" at the en
Apr 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
I read "Wait, What?" by James E. Ryan as part of my research on the "second act." James E. Ryan is the dean of Harvard University's Graduate School of Education. The book originated as a graduation speech Ryan delivered for Harvard School of Education students. I listened to the speech first and found it to contain some good advice and information I might use in the class I'm thinking about leading, so I ordered the book. Unfortunately, much of the book is word-for-word from the speech. Ryan doe ...more
Jun 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The graduation speaker at MIT's hooding this year was just average to me so I was really excited to be given this book. This is just the kind of graduation speech I love. Ryan writes honestly from him heart and his life. While none of the takeaways are particularly brand new, it's the context and persuasiveness with which Ryan talks about the five essential questions that made me reevaluate how well and how often I really ask them. I especially loved his dedication to his friend, who embodied th ...more
Scott McD
Aug 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A good read, well worth your time. As a crisis worker, the author has inspired me to ask more questions of my patients, particularly wait, what? As he says, it is better to ask the right questions, than to try and have the right answers. If we all tried to improve our communication skills, and practice kindness, what a better world it would be.
Apr 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Everyone needs to read this book. Especially anyone entering the workforce, entering a relationship, entering college, parents, teens, pretty much everyone. It's a quick read and, well worth the little amount of time that it requires. At the very least, find and read the commencement address to the Harvard Business School Class of 2016, which the author extended into this book.
May 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful human, humor, and humanity
Jun 27, 2018 rated it liked it
Ok, quick easy read. Tells stories about why asking questions and getting out of your comfort zone is a good thing. Synopsis, ask questions get better results, lets you learn more, and fosters deeper relationships.
dylan fogarty
Mar 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
the most successful people aren’t the ones with all of the answers, but rather the ones with the good questions
May 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I'm a sucker for inspirational, self-help books, especially those with a practical approach. This one hit nicely in that sweet spot between helpful and entertaining. This started as a graduation speech the author made at the Harvard School of Education. As so often happens, the video went viral and publishers came calling. They convinced him to expand his speech into a book and he did a good job with fairly thin material.

The strength of the book was in the author's personal experiences. I learne
Bea Bezmalinovic
Aug 07, 2017 rated it liked it
This book is a print version of a graduation speech that James Ryan, Dean of Harvard's Graduate School of Education. In it, he explains that he has a penchant for asking questions, one that dates back to his youth.

He identifies 5 important questions:

wait, what?
I wonder...?
Couldn't we at least?
How can I help?
What Truly Matters?

I confess that I did not buy this book. It was a freebie that was handed out at a conference. The book is a quick read. I like the questions and the way that Ryan describe
Bob Varettoni
May 19, 2018 rated it liked it
Listened to this during a long drive through New Jersey on a Friday night, and thought, “Eh...” So maybe you can blame location or the darkness, but I didn’t find this as inspirational as Admiral McRaven’s “Make Your Bed” or Jonathan Fields’ “How to Live a Good Life” or, hell, even James Comey’s “A Higher Loyalty.” I would have preferred the shorter, speech-as-delivered version of this book — especially if the original didn’t include the graphic childbirth stories. I get the premise about the qu ...more
Karla Covarrubias
Feb 07, 2018 rated it liked it
Todos queremos ser amados, respetados y cuidados en cualquiera de nuestros círculos sociales. Nuestras relaciones son la mejor medida para saber si estamos logrando estos puntos.

Este libro es una guía empática y cálida para saber realizar las preguntas adecuadas ante diversas situaciones personales y profesionales para lograr conectar y avanzar donde a veces la comunicación se complica.

Es un texto ligero, fácilmente entendible y grato, pero para mi gusto, fue demasiado personal para el tema a t
Jun 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
This gem of a book made me laugh out loud and deeply weep as well. It is very short: I read it in one sitting, between bathroom breaks: I did not rise out of my chair from start to finish. But it is packed with stories and impact. Light-hearted and simultaneously deeply touching, it deserves my best compliment, which is this: Who deserves this book as a gift? I plan to purchase my own copy (this one's from the library) and keep it on my shelf of treasured books. Many thanks to Lisa for this reco ...more
Jan 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
James Ryan was Dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education when he delivered the commencement address that is the basis for this short book. He's now the incoming President of the University of Virginia, one of my alma maters, which is why I picked up the book. Ryan argues that asking the right questions is probably more important than having the right answers and he suggests 5 that are important: Wait, what?; I wonder…? Couldn’t we at least…?; How can I help?; and What truly matters? His e ...more
Sep 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Even at 144 pages, it might be longer than it needs to be, but this little book is still worth the time put into reading it. My biggest takeaway was the question How Can I Help? It is much more effective than, Do You Need Help? or Can I Help You? How? negates the Yes/No response that most people will give even if they do need help. Try it--I already have!
Dec 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
I love books that encourage bridge building. This book does just that. The encouragement to engage in civil and polite conversations is so welcome and needed.

"Questions are like keys. The right question, asked at the right time, will open a door to something you don't yet know, something you haven't yet realized, or something you haven't even considered--about others or yourself."

"Even if a better understanding of an idea or perspective doesn't change your mind, it is likely to make you respec
Jamie (Books and Ladders)
I probably shouldn't have listened to this at work because it made me cry, but I loved every minute of this. It examines life and what is most important in yours while giving good advice but not pushing you in any direction. I'll have a full review up on Books and Ladders!
Houssem Mallem
Sep 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: self-help
This book is quite different from the Self help books i read before, The author talks about how asking five questions which are packed with bunch of interesting stories can not only deepen your understanding and connection to others but yourself included.
Sep 06, 2017 rated it liked it
This was interesting. It's an expansion on his commencement address, about the essential questions to ask as we move through life. I liked his examples, and he had me thinking of my own.
Jun 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Loved this quick read by the very interesting and inspirational Jim Ryan. Practical and touching. The five essential questions and the bonus question are magical in their simplicity and profundity.
Jt O'Neill
Aug 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Wait, What is not earth shattering nor does it contain a lot of new for me information. It is, however, honestly and warmly written and I found it to be encouraging and tender.

The five essential questions that Mr Ryan writes about are these:

"Wait, what? is at the root of all understanding.
I wonder...? is at the heart of all curiosity.
Couldn't we at least.... ? .. is the beginning of all progress.
How can I help? ... is at the base of all good relationships.
What truly matters? helps you get to th
Antoinette Perez
Delightful expansion of the sub-7-minute viral commencement speech from Dean James Ryan of Harvard's Graduate School of Education. If you have only 7 minutes, the speech is a 10/10. If you have a day, read the book for a broader, 8/10 experience.
Janet Rosfeld
Jul 15, 2017 rated it liked it
Ryan is a dean at Harvard and he takes a popular commencement speech about the art of asking good questions and makes a lovely little book out of it. We could all learn how to ask better questions and be better listeners. Gives you a lot to think about.
May 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is one of those books that I feel like is going to become more and more impressive to me as time goes on. After finishing it, I thought, “That was good. Worth the buck I paid.” But later, I found myself starting to ask some of the questions he posed.

As a teacher, I felt like the examples he used to drive the pints home were spot on. I wish sooo much I could teach so succinctly. Proof how important a good example is.

Anyway, I ramble. Definitely a good read, probably his ideas will become p
May 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A great resource for those striving to become better leaders.
Apr 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ryan will soon become the next president of the University of Virginia. My daughter's father-in-law, who teaches at UVa, gave me a copy of the book to read and I was pleasantly surprised. It looks like UVa has picked a winner for their next president. The book is both readable and enjoyable and Ryan gives many examples from his own life to illustrate the five essential questions:

Wait, What?
I Wonder...?
Couldn't We at Least...?
How Can I Help?
What Truly Matters?

While none of these questions is part
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James E. Ryan is the eleventh dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Before joining Harvard, he was the Matheson & Morgenthau Distinguished Professor at the University of Virginia Law School, where he founded the school’s Program in Law and Public Service. A former clerk for Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, as well as a former rugby player, he has argued before the United States ...more
More about James E. Ryan

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“Too often we fail to pause for clarification, thinking that we understand something before we do. In doing so, we miss the opportunity to grasp the full significance of an idea, an assertion, or an event. Asking “Wait, what?” is a good way to capture, rather than miss, those opportunities.” 1 likes
“Asking “Wait, what?” is also a good way to avoid jumping to conclusions or making snap judgments. Too often we decide very early whether we agree or disagree with someone or with an idea, without making an effort to truly understand the person or the point. Our” 0 likes
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