Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

I was leaning against a wall and waiting for the governor of Puerto Rico.

First, though, the Skift Global Forum in New York last week offered three startup pitches to entertain the audience.

They were from companies promising new ideas to make the airline experience better. 

Their prize, as far as I could gather, included a trip to Ireland. I fear it might have been in economy class. It certainly ought to have been. To offer perspective, you understand.

Each company had a few minutes to present its idea and then answer questions from a panel of judges.

I can only hope those judges were partaking of the perfectly decent Pinot Noir on offer at the conference.

You see, the ideas were a touch depressing. As with so many startups, they wanted to solve small problems. Not necessarily consumer problems, either.

But all too often, when a judge asked a question, one of the startup founders would offer the same answer: "Great question!"

I found myself clutching my wine glass a little more tightly with every occurrence. I found my teeth begging me to head toward the door before they did something they'd regret.

Why do people respond to questions in this way?

Do they really think they're flattering the questioner? Do they somehow believe that the questioner will beam with delight--and bow a little--at having asked a question worthy of a startup founder?

What purpose does this phrase serve? Other than to patronize, that is?

Do these founder types sometimes hear a question, find it inane, and reply: "Stupid question!"

They likely do in their heads.

Please, here's an idea. When someone asks you a question, just answer it.

I know that sounds dull. It's also less annoying.

The governor of Puerto Rico, Ricardo Rosselló, answered a lot of questions. He adores talking.

I didn't hear him pause to comment on the sheer excellence of the questions he was being asked.

Published on: Oct 2, 2018