Q+A With “Me” Via Michael Quinn (MMQ)


The reframing of Irma Zandl 2.0 continues and I love the challenges being posed to me by my creative guru, Michael Quinn.


My goal in working with Michael is to create new and more compelling ways to answer those two all important questions I get whenever I meet somebody new: “What do you do?” and “What do you write about on The Opinionator?

  • This week’s assignment was to tackle “what I’m about” from the perspective of a media interview.
  • Since the Q+A series I recently created for The Opinionator has turned out be extremely popular, I decided to run myself through the format.
  • Totally fun to do and I’m excited to report that I am seeing a light at the end of the tunnel.
  • Thank you once again, Michael. And for all my readers who might be going through similar creative reframing issues, highly recommend you check out Michael’s website!  He takes creative problem solving to another level!


Read on below for Michael’s Q+A with me.


What inspired you to launch your blog, The Opinionator?

  • The Opinionator is a continuation of what I had done successfully with The Zandl Group, my trend-forecasting business.
  • The difference is that I’ve been able to reframe it to its purest essence since I’m not doing it in response to a specific client need, and the topics don’t have to be monetizable.
  • My mission now is to provide a daily nugget of must-read information. It has to be intriguing enough and/or cool enough, that my readers want to talk about it and share it with their friends and colleagues. 
  • The “special sauce” I add is context and the expertise to connect the dots which pinpoint important shifts in the culture.

 How did you become a writer?

  • I’ve written daily for years but never considered myself a writer. Recently, however, two of my friends validated my writer’s cred. Michael Quinn, for one, reminded me that I co-wrote a book, Targeting the Trendsetting Consumer, in 1992 (published by Dow Jones). Since then I have written custom blogs for clients and written for The Opinionator since its founding in 2014.

What is something that your friends would consider “so you”?

  • My seating charts at dinner parties and my instinct for connecting people.

What are some of the events in your life that made you who you are?

  • My parents moved to Australia from Germany when I was 7 years old. None of us spoke the language but as a child I learned English before my parents did. For some reason, I took it upon myself when I was 8 or 9  to read the local paper and circle all the stories that I felt my parents absolutely needed to know.
  • That has basically been what I’ve done my whole life: discovered, translated, connected.

What are some of your personal “rules” that you never break?

  •  Always deliver what you promise and always be on time. 

What could you give a 30-minute presentation on with absolutely no preparation?

  •  How to start a business and how to be financially independent.

What is something you think everyone should do at least once in their lives?

  • Go on a National Geographic “Around the World: By Private Jet” tour.

What’s the first career you dreamed of having as a kid?

  • I wanted to be an airline stewardess so I could travel the world (stewardesses were very glamorous back then). I gave up that dream once I got glasses because stewardesses were not allowed to wear them and I was terrified of contacts.

 Who, or what, was your biggest teacher?

  • Over the course of my career, there were a handful of times when I fell severely short on projects I was working on. That visceral feeling of having disappointed people, of not living up to their expectations, is torturous for me.
  • But in each instance, I learned more than I could imagine. Needless to say none of those mistakes were ever repeated.
  • So I guess what I’m saying is that while I wouldn’t wish this feeling on my worst enemy, mistakes can be great teachers. Nobody ever learns much when things go swimmingly.

What does success mean to you?

  • Since my friend, Nick Belperio initially put it in my head that I’m a writer, I’ve been geeking out about that. Success for me would be to have a major feature or podcast or cable TV interview on how I’ve reframed my career and my mission and done it as a writer.

If you had to choose only 3 adjectives to describe yourself, which would you choose?

  • Enthusiastic, curious, hardworking.

What did you have to give up to achieve your current level of success?

  •  I doubt I could have achieved what I did if I had kids or traditional family responsibilities. However, I don’t feel I “gave” up anything because I never wanted that kind of life. I’ve led exactly the life I wanted.

What’s the biggest risk you’ve ever taken?

  •  Starting The Zandl Group based on an astrological reading.

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