How is Not an Adverb

Dov Seidman: My fundamental idea is that how is not an adverb.  It’s not a tactic. 

As leaders we need to take responsibility for language.  You know, the word "how" has been cheapened, if not denigrated over the years because we’ve used it as an adverb.  "How’s it going, buddy?" "How are you?"  "How do I get from here to there?"  It’s a tactic.  It’s a means to an end. 


"How do I get from here to there?"  And we count with how.  "How much revenue?"  "How much market share do we need?" "How much profit?"  "How many friends?"  "How many followers?" "How many likes?"

We think how is an adverb.  And an adverb is window dressing that qualifies a noun.  We like nouns.  So I came along and I said, “How.  What if it were a noun.  It’s the how that makes the difference.  Let’s get our how’s right.  That’s a how guy.   That’s a how company.”  Because if how is a noun, a thing, an ethic of human endeavor, a platform for innovation, a lens through which we look at how we do what we do.  If it’s a thing, we’re gonna want this thing, we’re gonna scale this thing, we’re gonna excel at this thing. 

So my fundamental idea is that how is not an adverb.  It’s not a tactic.  It’s really a thing, a whole ethic of leadership and of human endeavor.  And instead of seeing how as just a question – how much and how many?  What if how were the answer.  If how were the answer, we’d try to get a good answer and scale that answer. 

In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think's studio.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

Can the keto diet help treat depression? Here’s what the science says so far

A growing body of research shows promising signs that the keto diet might be able to improve mental health.

Public Domain
Mind & Brain
  • The keto diet is known to be an effective tool for weight loss, however its effects on mental health remain largely unclear.
  • Recent studies suggests that the keto diet might be an effective tool for treating depression, and clearing up so-called "brain fog," though scientists caution more research is necessary before it can be recommended as a treatment.
  • Any experiments with the keto diet are best done in conjunction with a doctor, considering some people face problems when transitioning to the low-carb diet.
Keep reading Show less

Steven Pinker's 13 rules for writing better

The Harvard psychologist loves reading authors' rules for writing. Here are his own.

NEW YORK, NY - JULY 21: Steven Pinker speaks onstage during OZY Fest 2018 at Rumsey Playfield, Central Park on July 21, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images for Ozy Media)
Personal Growth
  • Steven Pinker is many things: linguist, psychologist, optimist, Harvard professor, and author.
  • When it comes to writing, he's a student and a teacher.
  • Here's are his 13 rules for writing better, more simply, and more clearly.
Keep reading Show less

Want to age gracefully? A new study says live meaningfully

Thinking your life is worthwhile is correlated with a variety of positive outcomes.

YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/AFP/Getty Images
Surprising Science
  • A new study finds that adults who feel their lives are meaningful have better health and life outcomes.
  • Adults who felt their lives were worthwhile tended to be more social and had healthier habits.
  • The findings could be used to help improve the health of older adults.
Keep reading Show less