Noted Philanthropist Asks the Second Question First

Gisèle Huff learned to ask ``why`` instead of ``how``

Part Two of a Two-Part Interview

This is the second part of the two-part interview I recently did with Gisèle Huff. In this installment, she talks about the areas of focus that effectively bring about large-scale changes to education. Changes that will help education adapt to the developments of the modern world.

Gisèle also describes personal transformations that influenced key areas of her life. She points to how a businessman who worked with her at the Jaquelin Hume Foundation in San Francisco changed her approach to work by asking the second question. She was always prepared for the first question, which is either a “what” or “how,” but she wasn’t prepared for the second question, which is the “why” question.

Grid“It became my first question to everybody I talk to,” she says. “Because there are so many different circumstances and people talk to me about all kind of things, that when they finish talking, I ask them the second question; and the second question can be best described as the ‘why.’

“Why? Not what you're doing, not how you're doing it ─ but why are you doing it? It is so informative. You learn so much from that.

“It's an easy thing to do, but it is amazingly useful. And every time you get an answer, it goes into your long-term memory and becomes part of your pattern of thinking. So, the next time you see something like that, you know that there is a second answer and you can help people see their way. You collect more and more information as you go along."

Gisèle’s passion for her work and the future of America come through in this interview. She is an inspiration. We can all undoubtedly benefit from her wisdom and incredible insight.

About Gisèle Huff

Gisèle HuffDr. Gisèle Huff is the executive director of the Jaquelin Hume Foundation in San Francisco. After a decade in the business world, she earned a Ph.D. in political science, with a concentration in political philosophy, at Columbia University. She has taught at Golden Gate University, San Francisco University High School and Dominican College.

While at University High School, she served as the director of development for twelve years. She currently serves as a member of the Board of Directors of iNACOL and as a member of the Board of Directors of The Learning Accelerator. She was a founding member and served as chairman of the Board of Directors of the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation, as chairman of the Board of Directors of the Center for Education Reform, and as a member of the Board of Directors of the State Policy Network.

She is a member of the Advisory Board for Harvard University’s Program on Education Policy and served as a member of the advisory committee for the National Charter School Research Project at the Center on Reinventing Public Education, and of the Executive Committee of the Digital Learning Council.

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