This month ROI is featuring the works of John G. Miller, author and keynote speaker. John reached out to me via LinkedIn in 2014 and sent me multiple copies of his books that I have shared with friends, family and co-workers. QBQ, with over 1 million copies in print teaches the importance of “practicing personal accountability at work and in life.” QBQ! was written in 2001 and updated with an FAQ section based on readers’ questions John has received over the years.

The cover states, “What to Really Ask Yourself to Eliminate Blame, Victim Thinking, Complaining, and Procrastination.” What stood out in his writing is how our society has changed over time in how we take responsibility for what we say, think and do in our personal and professional lives without even realizing the lack of personal accountability. He writes by telling stories of actual circumstances to teach each of the principles in QBQ. The definition of QBQ is:

“A tool that enables individuals to practice personal accountability by making better choices in the moment.”

In his book, John reveals the questions we ask ourselves at any given moment. He describes “IQ’s” meaning Incorrect Questions  as negative questions resulting in nothing positive and the complete opposite of personal accountability.“Because the implication is that someone or something else is responsible for the problem or situation.” And how unfortunate it is that these negative questions are usually our first thoughts resulting in defensive reactions and feelings of frustration.

“The moment the IQ’s pop into our heads, we have a choice. We can either accept them or reject them, choosing instead to ask better, more accountable questions such as…what can I do to make a difference? And how can I support the team?”

Here are the three simple guidelines for creating a QBQ, Questions Behind The Question:

1. Begin with “What” or “How” (not “Why,” “When,” or “Who”).
2. Contain an “I” (not “they,” “we,” or “you”).
3. Focus on action


In this book John explains that asking the question “What can I do?” may appear simple but the QBQ is made up of many facets that have a powerful effect on our lives. As I read his book, I found myself identifying in past and present circumstances the unfortunate habit of some of my negative thinking that would put the blame on others. When I took his approach…and you have to work at being aware of your immediate thoughts…I found a remarkable change happen in my relationships. Instead of staying stuck, frustrated, even angry, I found by changing my thoughts I changed my reactions. This in turn changed my conversations into proactive solution seeking interchanges. Now, I pause to keep from making an immediate emotional response, to asking, “What can I do to help?” Instead of feeding into others negative feelings and reactions, I can disarm that negativity and set an entirely different tone for the conversation. John’s direct approach and real life situations really bring home each facet he is teaching.

Flipping the Switch” is another excellent personal development book where John explains the “Five Keys to Success at Work and in Life”. This book takes what is taught in QBQ! to the next level as he “explores five essential principles that, when fully engaged, give us an important advantage at work and in life.”

Similar to flipping a light switch where there is energy that instantly turns on the light bulb, John teaches that by asking the right “kind of question” we can “dramatically improve our organizations and lives by continuing to learn, grow by seeking creative solutions, serving others, and working to build trust to strengthen our relationships.” The five key principles he teaches are:

1. Learning - Live an engaged and energized life through positive personal growth and change
2. Ownership – Attain goals by becoming a solution-oriented person who solves problems
3. Creativity – Find new ways to achieve by “succeeding within the box”
4. Service – Do for others what you don’t have to do, and build a legacy by helping people succeed
5. Trust – Develop deep and rewarding relationships

Dave Ramsey is quoted on the cover of John’s book Outstanding! stating: “All you have to do is follow the path laid out here. Definitely a must read!” And I couldn’t agree more. I really love how he shares such inspirational and compelling stories of exceptional organizations who follow the principles and behaviors that set them apart and point out just how powerful we can be as individuals and teams. In this book John teaches how to create an outstanding organization through 47 ideas and principles:

Stand Behind Your Stuff – Don’t Stagnate: Turnover Can Be a Good Thing – Make Meetings Meaningful – Listen in All Directions – Forgive Mistakes – Coach, Moment to Moment – Make No Excuses – Don’t Speak in Code – Fight the Fat in Good Times and Bad – Do What You Promise – Be Fast – Train – Be Flexible: Put People Before Policies – Try! Risk! Grow! – Hire Character – See Everyone as a Customer – Encourage One Another – Never Forget Who Pays the Bills – Choose to Change – Seek No Culprits

John is a Cornell University graduate and founder of QBQ, Inc. He has worked with hundreds of Fortune 500 companies and thousands of individuals to help them make personal accountability a core value and become outstanding. He lives with his wife Karen in Denver, Colorado and they have seven children. If you are seeking methods to improve your relationships, I highly recommend you visit his website: www.QBQ.com and add his books to your personal development library. These three books have had a significant impact on improving my relationships, and I’m confident it will do the same for you.