My answers to the Proust Questionnaire: What Are Yours?

They say the web is decaying all the time and it’s true. When sites redesign they break hundreds or thousands of previously working links. I discovered this fun interview from 2008 by Sara Peyton at O’Reilly Media had disappeared.

I recovered it thanks to the Web archive and reposted it here. It’s based on the Proust questionnaire, a parlor game by the eponymous author. You should give it a try.

12 years is a long time and I need to reconsider my answers to some of these questions, but for now I’ll stand with them as they are.

Scott Berkun Answers Proust’s Questions
By Sara Peyton, June 2008

Having proven his range as a writer, speaker, and now on CNBC’s The Business of Innovation TV show, O’Reilly’s bestselling author Scott Berkun ponders happiness, friends, and other concerns in the O’Reilly Proust Questionnaire.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

An evening spent drunk as a loon, looking up at stars, sitting by a bonfire, laughing with friends.

What is your greatest fear?

Waiting to die with a mind full of regrets.

On what occasion do you lie?

This is the first lie I’ve ever told.

What is your favorite journey?

Wherever I’m going next that I haven’t been to before.

Which living person do you most despise?

It’s a tie between Bill O’Reilly and Dick Cheney.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

My friends would say its mother*****r. But I don’t think this word can be overused.

Which talent would you most like to have?

Mind-reading is hard to beat, but I’d settle for time-travel.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

The willingness to let myself make more mistakes.

If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be?

Open their eyes.

If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what would it be?

If a thing, the most perfect object in NYC: The Chrysler Building. Or maybe Central Park (is it cheating to call that one thing? I like to cheat). If a person, I’d like to be me again.

What do your consider your greatest achievement?

Writing every day. Ok, that’s a lie. I don’t write every day. But just trying to write every day is hard enough.

What is your most treasured possession?

My mind. I dont care much for material things. Besides, you never have to worry about someone breaking into your mansion and stealing your mind, you know? It’s the only thing than will always be only yours.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

Watching someone innocent suffer for your own carelessness.

What is the quality you most like in a man?


What is the quality you most admire in a woman?

What do you most value in your friends?

Brutal honesty, dark comedy, and trust under fire.

Who are your favorite writers?

George Orwell, Henry Miller, George Saunders, Raymond Carver, Bertrand Russell, Peter Drucker, Loren Eisley, John Gardner, Ray Bradbury, Hubert Selby Jr.

Who is your favorite hero of fiction?

How can you top Don Quixote? There’s no way.

Who are your heroes in real life?

Don Quixote isn’t real? Are you sure?

How would you like to die?

Drunk as a loon, looking up at stars, sitting by a bonfire, laughing with friends.

What is your motto?

Be amazed by everything.

2 Responses to “My answers to the Proust Questionnaire: What Are Yours?”

  1. NEIL

    Hi Scott,

    Your talk to Google was mesmerising. I am a composer working on a startup idea – creativity is such a mystery and a method. The contradiction drives me nuts! (PS I also like curves and Hubert Selby jr – a very, very original character) …


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