Craft Your Story: Technique # 2: Fun with Proust


I admit that fun and Marcel Proust, author of the several thousand page Modernist text Remembrance of Things Past are not always associated. However, the subject of this post, the Proust Questionnaire is surprisingly fun and it could be another way to generate the raw material to craft your story.

Designed by the French author in the late 1800s to amuse himself and his friends, the Proust Questionnaire is widely used as a method of inquiry, most famously, perhaps, on the television show, The Actor’s Studio. In any case, the Proust Questionnaire has been subject to numerous adaptations the most recent of which is for the HBS Community: The Proust Questionnaire for Entrepreneurs.

Like a more traditional interview, the Proust Questionnaire is a useful method for writers and conversationalists, alike. If you are interested in having your answers published on The HBS Blog email your completed questionnaire to our managing editor,

The Proust Questionnaire for Entrepreneurs :

Your name:
Name of your business:
Your background:
Your chief characteristic:
Your regular reads:
Clients, customers, constituents:
How long have you been in business?
Where do you do business?
Your concrete inspiration:
Your big dreams:
Your first success:
The status of your business:
The future of your business:
Your greatest challenge in business:
Business pet peeve:
Your favorite entrepreneurs, pioneers, mavericks, artists, and heros from real life and history:
The greatest rewards of your entrepreneurship:
Your idea of happiness in business:
Your present state of mind:
Your business advise:
Your favorite motto:
Your favorite business book:
Your one sentence business story:

Below is My Story crafted using The Proust Questionnaire for Entrepreneurs, we can not wait to read yours!

Your name: Christina Cornelius
Name of your business: The Writing Studio, LLC
Your background: BA in English from Emory University
Your chief characteristic: observant
Your regular reads: McSweeney’s, The New York Times, Oprah Magazine
Clients, customers, constituents: Entrepreneurs, Speech Writers, Resume Writers
How long have you been in business? Seven Years
Where do you do business? Lugano, Switzerland, but I work with people from Delaware to Dubai
Your concrete Inspiration: To be honest, not to give it away…
Your big dreams: To own some seriously awesome intellectual property and to contribute to others’ success stories by helping them communicate through writing, public speaking, blogging, or any other viable form of communication. (I haven’t worked with anyone on a text message yet, but I know it will happen.)
Your first success: Technically, getting a Writing Studio email account.
The status of your business: It is now a great platform from which I can offer my natural talents to those who are writing something and want feedback, a co-writer, or a personal editor!
The future of your business: Ummm. See my favorite motto!
Your greatest challenge in business: Delegating.
Business pet peeve: Interns who fall asleep at their desk, or send me emails where ‘ you’ is spelled ‘u’
Your favorite entrepreneurs, pioneers, mavericks, artists, and heros from real life and history: Oprah Winfrey, Martin Luther King, Jr., Louise Bourgeois
Your greatest rewards: Being able to help my clients clarify and communicate, and make sure they have fun doing it and so do I!
Your idea of happiness: Open windows, warm bread with butter, hot tea, my family around and about and some reading and writing to follow (so, a continental breakfast on a Sunday in May with the tribe, apparently, followed by as Kurt Vonnegut once said, ‘showing off in private’)
Your present state of mind: Relaxed and enthusiastic
Your advise: Ask yourself what you naturally contribute and do what you are.
Your favorite motto: Proceed as the way opens.
Your favorite business book: Daniel Pink’s A Whole New Mind and The Power of Full Engagement by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz. Putting the two together confirms my worldview: apply your energy towards what matters most plus think creatively.
Your business story in one sentence: One sunny, smoggy, sweltering Saturday Morning, in Atlanta, Georgia, I coached a high school friend, an artist and entrepreneur, as she edited her resume, and it was fun and easy for me, but daunting and difficult for her and I decided I needed to create a professional space from which I could offer my talents and skills to those who need them, so I incorporated The Writing Studio, LLC.

More By Christina Cornelius
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