My Q&A cheat-sheet…

…or at least one of them. 🙂

Seriously though, there couldn’t be any one checklist (or ‘a checklist’) that I could use to help me get each Q&A draft to a point that I’d be ready to submit a text version for approval. Because if I did that, I’d be risking not finding more of what makes that person unique.

I do have my guide questions. And in past Q&As there have been core questions that pop up frequently. As I have always been nuts for engaging talks and stories, I thought I’d outline a documentary and a biopic — both of which would be helpful whenever I wanted to add a new (or re-introduce a) question or two.


Reader Advice: If you haven’t seen Being Elmo or Temple Grandin, and the type that dislikes knowing key parts of a story before you see a film. Stop reading now! Then, click here to send me a message and I’ll be happy to remind you about this post, after you’ve seen both.
Yes, while writing this, I watched both films again. 😀

Being Elmo



  • Intro/Prologue
    • Height of Fame
    • (Opening Title)
    • Where he is now
    • How much he has touched others lives (The effect he has on others)
  • Beginnings (influences
    • Watched Disney and a lot of TV
    • Environment he was exposed to growing up
    • Why Sesame Street connected with him (Scene with Ernie in introducing Bert to the audience, and directly talking to the camera)
  • Application (Early days, initial )
    • The kind of support he got when he first attempted to make a puppet. (He made a mistake of using a coat to make a puppet before asking permission)
    • Where he first tested his ideas: backyard puppet shows (eventually morphed into bigger crowds)
    • His takaway: it was about finding a way to connect to each individual.
  • Setbacks
    • School Teasing
  • First Break
    • Spotted by a TV presenter
  • Finding a Mentor (to get to the next level)
    • What drove him to find a Mentor? He couldn’t get the stitching so it couldn’t be visible (like the Muppets).
  • Result of being Mentored
    • Things that he learned (the kind of stitching to get the effect that he wanted)
    • Places he was able to visit (The Workshop)
    • People he was able to meet (Jim Henson)
  • Interactions with Peers/Co-Workers
    • Interviews: Puppeteers he has worked with
    • giving suggestions to puppet makers and puppeteers (e.g. for the French version of Sesame Street)
  • Skills required to be a puppeteer
    • Making the puppet look alive (slightly opening the mouth — getting the puppet to look around)
    • Hand movements (as a puppeteer and how the puppet is seen)
  • Joining Jim’s circle
    • Getting invited to the parade (as Cookie Monster)
    • Meeting Jim for the first time (How Kermit Love helped him with the introduction and the first conversation — Reminder of the benefit of a Mentor: Reminder of what set him apart from others who might be considered as well)
  • From High School to Network TV
    • Making a decision to decline Jim Henson’s offer to be involved in a movie (because of prior commitments)
    • Example of what it was like to work with Jim Henson (Story of a difficult sequence in Labyrinth)
    • Timing of being free, just in time to get the offer to do Labyrinth
  • Sesame Street – Early Years
    • Highs – what he felt when he first walked in and coming across people he looked up to.
    • Lows – he did a commercial with Jim Henson and Frank Oz — needing a piece of paper with his line.
  • Elmo
    • Backstory of Elmo (Before Kevin took over)
    • Kevin taking time to figure out how to approach Elmo (and Eureka moment)
    • Co-workers being interviewed about the creation of Elmo (Elmo is not Kevin, but his parents)
  • Additional Life Events
    • Daughter born
    • Tickle Me Elmo Craze
    • Committing to do all Elmo appearances even when there was consideration given to bring in another puppeteer.
    • Jim Henson’s passing (he was able to spend some time with Jim two weeks before)
  • Being a Mentor
    • Reaching out to a possible mentee
    • Full Circle: showing a young puppeteer around the workshop
    • Sharing why he chooses to Mentor others
  • How he contributes to a larger body of work
    • How he embodies what Jim Henson started
    • He gets along well with other puppeteers

Here’s another review by Andy Crump.




Temple Grandin

  • Intro/Prologue
    • Summary of who Temple is (She thinks in pictures – not like other people)
    • Opening Credits (Pictures — and in the commentary Temple Grandin mentions that the drawings were used were hers – just animated. Plus) – nice comedic touch: cow winking at the camera
  • Vacation before College (Aunt’s ranch)
    • First time visiting – A number of scenes illustrate what she likely sees (fire for extremely hot temperatures, imagery that comes to mind when her Aunt uses a phrase to let her know the time they get up)
    • Introduction to her mannerisms (very outspoken and animated when something captures her attention – telling a story to her aunt while on the drive to the airport to the ranch, and reaction about meeting one of the ranchhands) and abilities (very detailed)
    • How she gets her ideas – from seeing how one object works (room vent) and applying it to another (entrance gate to the ranch).
    • Pre-College Struggle – to understand people.
    • Second Mentor – Aunt Ann helps her understand the world and herself more (taking pictures of different expressions to signify specific emotions)
    • The words that may have convinced her to pursue college.
  • College
    • Settling in the dorms accompanied by Mum – flashback on how far Temple has come (echoing what Uncle Mike conveyed), and how much her mum has persisted and believed in her (despite the doctor’s initial diagnosis when she was 4).
    • Aspects of the world that overwhelm her and result in stress.
    • Her idea on making her own hug machine, then method of convincing the decision makers to have her keep the device
  • High School (Flashback)
    • First Mentor and Friend (Dr. Carlock)
      • Being able to convince Temple’s mum (initially hesitant after the visit and interview) to consent to having Temple attend the school.
      • Encouragement while steering Temple with the right challenges and approach to learning (Once he finds out how Temple’s mind works).
      • Someone to turn to even after high school (Temple called Dr. Carlock for advice regarding her report about her hug machine)
      • Getting Temple to be open about going to college.
    • Affinity with horses
    • Lessons
      • Not all people think like her (in pictures)
      • First encounter with death (Chestnut)
  • College (Post-Hug Machine Approval)
    • Interacting with people more (needing to guide her blind roommate to watch The Man from U.N.C.L.E., and sitting at the front row in class)
    • Valedictorian Speech: the realisation that things are accomplished with the help of others.
  • Masters
    • Eureka Moment for thesis
    • Struggle with getting data to complete — and how Temple creatively found a way to get things done.
    • Being proactive (approaching a magazine editor, who ended up liking what she wrote)
  • Writer and Designer
    • Bumping into the right people at the right time
      • Unexpected Opportunity: Feedlot needing to be designed
      • Design an entire cattle processing system
    • Further personal growth
      • Learning to go through automatic doors
      • Getting closer to allowing people to hug her (her mum at Dr. Carlock’s Funeral)
  • Being able to get an opportunity at a conference to talk to others about what she went through, and allowing her mum to hear how much she had helped Temple become who she is now.






  • Since the talks I’ve chosen as reference are available online (Thanks to Chris #1 and Chris #2!), I might just add a couple of sentences what makes each of them awesome!


  • Donald Miller’s WDS Talk
    • I’m in the process of going through WDS talks (Chris has them on his Vimeo account), and this one blew me away. If you are hungry for complimentary talks after watching Dan, one I’d recommend is Simon Sinek’s ‘Why’
    • Looking for awesome books to read? Don mentions some that you might want to take note of at the start of his talk.
  • Q&A with Aimee Mullins
    • Before watching this video, be sure that you are in an environment where you could either smile or laugh out loud because you are in danger of doing either (or both!)  when you get to at this point of the chat: “Aimee, so what if your leg falls off? You pick it up, you put the damn thing back on, and finish…”

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