Too Quick to Prescribe (Issue 997)

In which we are reminded to ask (at least) one question before we recommend… anything.

The Community Boating sailing season on the Charles River in Boston began yesterday and what a glorious day.  A warm afternoon, wind speed 13 knots with gusts to 20 knots, a little light chop on the river.  Perfect first day.  There’s no place I feel more centered, at this point, than underway in the 17’ Mercuries we sail.

In anticipation of my time in the increasingly strong sunlight, I asked an outdoors-oriented friend, “Do you have a skin moisturizer that you like?”

Now, through a brief foray online to Good Housekeeping, Healthline, and other websites, one can find “top ten” lists of skin moisturizers, laboratory tested, results claimed.  If one compares  lists, one finds that NONE of the listed moisturizers overlap, so, the novice seeker struggles to choose a place to begin. For example, “Measurements with the Lab’s Corneometer device, which gauges skin hydration levels, showed that it increased moisture by an impressive 41% over six hours after application.”

What does that even mean? What is a “corneometer” if it isn’t a way of scoring  “Dad jokes” (corny…. Get it?  “Cornyometer”?  OK, never mind.)  If you’re enough OCD that you HAVE to know, NOW, welcome to the club and here’s an explanation.

So, my friend answered, “Ah, yes, a single word…” and then he named his moisturizer and continued, “it’s not greasy,” and  it’s this and it’s that and so on.

“Huh,” I responded, interested to hear his answer because his moisturizer did not appear on ANY of the ‘top 10 lists’ I’d reviewed.

He paused…

“I guess I should have asked you a couple of questions first, like ‘why are you asking?’ and ‘what do you intend to use it for?’”

Nick Miller is President of Clarity Advantage based in Concord, MA. He trains banks and bankers to attract and develop deeper relationships with small businesses. Many more Sales Thoughts like this and a host of other articles and resources at

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