15 Years Later: The Enduring Power of Personal Accountability

October 18, 2016: Everything Is New At QBQ! Full Display here.


Launch Day: Then and Now

On a sunny Colorado April day in 2001, the Millers posed for some pics of each of us holding the brand new QBQ! book. I’d just picked them up myself at the printer in Boulder. Self-published author!

My favorite image is little 2-year-old Tasha (lower pic, in Kristin’s arms)—now a senior in high school—pushing the book to the sky! So proud, I’m sure.

And then 3-year-old Jazzy—now in college—hiding behind her book down in front!

Fun stuff.

Little did we know that fine day that 15 years later we’d be able to hold up another version of the QBQ! book—the fifth one.

In the image below (left to right) you can see the five editions:


  1. That original 2001 smallest hardcover, made in Boulder.
  2. The 2002 paperback buyers still ask for now and then.
  3. The first edition by Penguin in NYC—returned to hardcover in 2004
  4. The rewritten and improved 2012 version by Penguin/Putnam.
  5. The best edition—rewritten again with a fresh look—hot off the PenguinRandomHouse press on Oct 18, 2016!

Can’t do a family photo with #5, though, since so many Miller kids have grown up and moved away, becoming parents themselves. Rounding everyone up isn’t an option.

Just. Too. Much. Change.

But one thing that has not changed and never will is this:

The enduring power of PERSONAL ACCOUNTABILITY.

And if you don’t know, that’s what the QBQ! book is all about.

Why is PERSONAL ACCOUNTABILITY still the foundation of all success? Because of the human traps QBQ! addresses that will forever exist.

Those traps and the lousy questions that signify them:

Victim Thinking: “Why is this happening to me?” “Why do we have to go through all this change?” and “Why don’t others help out more?”

Entitlement: “Why do others have more than I do?” and “Why doesn’t someone give me a job?”

Blame: “Who made the mistake?” “Who dropped the ball?” and “Whose dumb idea was that?”

Procrastination: “When will someone handle this problem?” “When will others do their job?” and “When will the customer call me back?”

The Longevity of QBQ!

Little did I know when I coined the phrase “the question behind the question” in 1994 and then taught this new idea at St. Jude Medical in St. Paul, MN, that we’d be here today, still helping people ask The Question Behind the Question—or QBQ.

But we are—and it’s not a testament to John Miller or even my teammates, daughter/speaker Kristin Lindeen and co-author David Levin.

The longevity of QBQ! is unshakeable evidence of the power of PERSONAL ACCOUNTABILITY.

Reflecting on the lousy questions listed above, QBQ! helps us practice PERSONAL ACCOUNTABILITY by asking better questions (QBQs) like these:

“What can I do to contribute?”

“How can I adapt to the changing world?”

“What can I do to serve?”

“How can I help solve the problem?”

“What can I do to take complete ownership in and for my life?”

Accountability is Not a Topic!

When I first started to speak on QBQ! in the mid-90s, I was told by a speaker’s bureau I’d fail because “accountability is not a topic.”

Well, they were half right: It’s not a topic. PERSONAL ACCOUNTABILITY is an over-arching core principle that applies to absolutely every aspect of life.

Or as one executive at AutoTrader.com put it: “QBQ! reminds me of English muffins: It seeps into every ‘nook and cranny’ of my life!”

So, today, on another “launch day,” I’m here to say thanks to the many followers of and believers in the QBQ! message. Your commitment to live a life of PERSONAL ACCOUNTABILITY in a society that doesn’t value this principle is impressive. We would not be here today holding this new edition of QBQ! if it were not for you.img_4487

However, I must close with this: The QBQ! book and its message of PERSONAL ACCOUNTABILITY were never meant for you. Why?

Because I still can only change me.

What has QBQ! done for you? Please share here!

October 18, 2016: Everything Is New At QBQ! Full Display here.


9 Responses

  1. Hi John,
    WOW! Time really does fly when you’re having fun! As you may remember, I picked up a QBQ book at an airport in late 2004 and Interprint began the QBQ journey with our folks in 2005. QBQ has certainly changed my life and its become part of the culture here at Interprint but as you say, its still up to the individual to embrace it because it’s all about Personal Accountability. Congratulations on your continued success, it must be very satisfying knowing that you have literally changed peoples lives for the better. All the best!

  2. Congratulations. Your book has touched my life and that of hundreds of people in the organization I served.

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