Ask Berkun

Each week I’ll pick the top voted question and write a blog post about it. You can both submit a question and vote on the ones you like in the list. You get 30 votes a month. You can see an archive of past questions and answers here. You’ll get an email when I post about your topic. Thanks for playing.

Next post: Tuesday by noon PST

Post Topic: Whatever has the most votes below

You have 30 votes remaining this month
  1. Vote for this comment

    What's the number one thing high school students need to hear?

    2454 votes. Asked by Jerry Nixon on . View more.


  2. Vote for this comment

    What are the real virtues in procrastinating?

    1441 votes. Asked by Jonas Altman on . View more.

    I know there are (at least I’ve read so and have experienced) but would love to hear from your worldview and experiences.

  3. Vote for this comment

    How do I correct my bad behaviors, so I do not lose anymore good jobs?

    1046 votes. Asked by Vickie Wickard on . View more.

     I know I have a problem keeping my mouth shut at work. I have been fired several times for the same thing. I work in Human Resources and I am sure that is not the right place for me with the problem I have with keeping my mouth shut. I get emotionally involved with the employees and if it’s a small issue, by the time I am done talking to them I have found a way to enlarge it and make more of it than it needs to be. I exaggerate when speaking with employees about things that are confidential. I feel that my problem is lack of self worth and I need to engage in the exaggerated gossip, so that I seem bigger, and better than I think I am. I know when I’m doing it, but can’t mentally stop my self. I am now unemployed again, and before my boss let me go, he stated that I have a lot of really great qualities. I am a very friendly positive person towards the employees, but when it comes to some of the garbage that goes on in the office I seem to dwell on it and can’t keep shut about it. I do not know if this is part of my mental illness or something else. I have had depression and have been on medication for 30 years. I need help. I am in my late 50’s and do not know if at my age I can get another job. I am scared to, because I know what the end results will be. What can I do to keep me from sabotaging myself again?

  4. Vote for this comment

    How do I create a new Economy....Buddhist Economy, E.F. Schumacher, Small is Beautiful...Economic as If People Mattered.

    860 votes. Asked by Amy Evans on . View more.

    I know what is going on out there. I can show you in a few websites, but the later is pretty intense. It is not looking very good, but there is a way forward. By the way, your, Don’t Be Precious was very helpful because I have a Mandalas. Well, did have. Will start to create new ones for the new journey. A journey of Creation as I do believe we can manufacture again and I am not a kin to globalization for many reasons. I can go on and on about what I know, have been looking at everything very intensely since 2011, when I got caught up in a very illegal court case down in AZ. I currently live in OR. Fled up here. You all do not have a clue as to what is ogoing on in the rest of the US. All very scary.

    I do know there is a way forward, but it will have to come from the ground up and I am not of any politics, or religion as they both are very agenda driven and broken. Preacher’s kid here, well woman and not of that anymore. However, my father was a Bohemian and raised a Bohemian Daughter. LOL. The Best man ever, who went through hell.

    Any thoughts on how to get people on board? It is called creating a new market. Well since they are now investing in debt, I think think this one is better.

    In The Light

  5. Vote for this comment

    What are the 5 tips that you would give to an entrepreneur and an example of how these tips have affected your life?

    859 votes. Asked by Daniel Trejo Peña on . View more.


  6. Vote for this comment

    How do you protect or change your narrative in a workplace environment?

    856 votes. Asked by Tyler on . View more.

     How do you make yourself more appealing to work authority and coworkers while simultaneously having your work verbally demeaned. How do you protect your workmanship and idea’s when others are so quick to take credit or others are so quick to shoot down such ideas?

  7. Vote for this comment

    Why people change their core being when someone close dies and money is involved

    821 votes. Asked by Deneen on . View more.

     My mom died in April and I have an older sister and a “very Christian” younger brother. He was named executor of the trust. Him and his wife were buddy buddy with my sister and still are. Of course they lied a lot. My brother became a full fledged liar and manipulator, he was going to make me reasonable for a debt nor mine, he put me through he’ll. My sister lied and manipulated as well. So when it was all said and it structurally change any kind of real relationship we will ever have so when I lost my mom and my family

  8. Vote for this comment

    What advice do you have for people who work in corporate positions, knowing that each day we commit to our job is one more day we're not working against climate change?

    771 votes. Asked by Issara Willenskomer on . View more.


  9. Vote for this comment

    Are book summaries any good?

    769 votes. Asked by Luca Andreucci on . View more.

     Hi Scott. Wondering if this is still working.
    Do you think that book summaries, I’m thinking about services like Blinkist, can be any good?
    I have used them in the past, with little success but also without much commitment, to be honest.
    I have read this:
    which seems to make sense but does not help me a lot.

    I guess you could come up with something to help me think outside of the box. :-)

    Take care,

  10. Vote for this comment

    What are your thoughts on 'content ownership' as Fred Wilson raised it in a recent post?

    755 votes. Asked by Vinish Garg on . View more.

    Last month, Fred Wilson shared his thoughts on content ownership for why he never hosts his content elsewhere (say, on Medium), at: Later I noticed Josh (of Baremetrics) too echoing the same views:

    However, it is also true that many individuals (Mark Suster) and companies (Basecamp) host their content on Medium. Wonder what are your thoughts on content ownership! Thank you

  11. Vote for this comment

    Will you take NY MBAs questions again?

    701 votes. Asked by Lizabeth Barclay on . View more.

     I’m teaching creativity again this Winter and once again using the Myth of Innovation. P.S. congrats on Amtrak writer award.

  12. Vote for this comment

    Is social media good or bad for the world?

    670 votes. Asked by Kyle Winward on . View more.

    This reminds me of a perpetual question on Facebook’s surveys: “I believe Facebook is good for the world”.

    I am a Generation X-er. Personally, the world seemed like a friendlier place when we had time to think before responding, taking sides, etc. Is there any hope for respectful dialogue in this country to occur again? It seems like it is becoming an endangered quality even at institutions of higher learning (my job sector).

  13. Vote for this comment

    Which one is better, make people think, or give them fully worked answers?

    647 votes. Asked by Zsolt Fabok on . View more.

    The book “Don’t Make me Think” argues that in order to have better websites or products we have to make interfaces that don’t make the people think. I often wonder whether it is a good approach with people. At the moment I work with “fast” people, and I think they don’t want to think because that takes time and according to them they don’t have much for this (I don’t know why). On the other hand without thinking we cannot have good discussions because they always response with the sentence “I don’t understand this…” because they don’t think about the proposal (it is clearly visible from the time difference between the received and sent times).

  14. Vote for this comment

    How do you organize your ideas?

    629 votes. Asked by Nancy on . View more.

     I write my ideas down as soon as I think of them, but how do I organize them into a story. I have them written down on index cards.

  15. Vote for this comment

    what matters between making a change and creating a value?

    586 votes. Asked by Meryem on . View more.

     While we make changes, We create new values supposed to be positive. But there’s little really valuable created. What is the blindness in our lives? (Philosophically) Also i agree with you many people cannot explain what innovation means. Thank you

  16. Vote for this comment

    Why is Scott's honesty and courage so refreshing?

    581 votes. Asked by Steve Van Atta on . View more.

    At this time of year I’m in the habit of looking back at the people, places and perspectives that have changed me over the previous 12 months. You are certainly included in first and third of those “p” words. I also try to thank those people [as well as God who, IMHO, authors it all] for their contributions to our communities and world, as well as myself.

    Thanks, Scott Berkun.

  17. Vote for this comment

    What kind of role "words" shall play in a life of an individual?

    545 votes. Asked by Oybek Imomsaidov on . View more.

    Words, words, words. I sincerely appreciate people who pay attention to their words ( advice, vow, value, uttered words etc.), I honestly do. However, I guess not many people, nowadays, do really pay attention to their words and uphold themselves to them. They might have forgotten what shall “words” mean for them, they might have forgotten the real value of following what they preach. Let’s inspire some people by this prospective blog.

  18. Vote for this comment

    What is your opinion on the value of Sketchnotes?

    541 votes. Asked by Daniel H. (Germany) on . View more.

    I stumble on sketchnotes every now and then in blogs – see
    as an example.

    Often I find them rather meaningless and feel that a short written summary would have been a lot more helpful (an example is probably your TED talk post – see and compare the sketchnote to the content a short written summary with the same space would have had). In some cases, sketchnotes seem to be completely meaningless visual clutter – see for an example (I actually tried to extract some kind of message from the sketchnote for several minutes and failed completely).

    On the other hand I found it highly helpfull to have small diagrams and sketches together with my own notes. So my criticism mainly is towards sketchnotes as a tool for communicating information to others.

    Most interestingly – while there is a lot of criticism on meaningless powerpoint slides and diagrams, I haven’t seen anyone bash sketchnotes. A google search for “sketchnotes criticism”, “bad sketchnotes” or comparable terms fails to find blog posts or whatsoever with sceptic views towards them.

    So I wonder – what do you think about Sketchnotes, Scott?

  19. Vote for this comment

    Who in life most influenced you and why?

    536 votes. Asked by Darren Foster on . View more.


  20. Vote for this comment

    How can I get an idea for a book?

    528 votes. Asked by Lyssa on . View more.

    You see, I like making parodies of books. But now, I wanna start creating my own books. I think of ideas then forget them. How can I keep an ideaa in my head? Also, how can I make an idea? Any suggestions?
    ~A curious minded teen.

  21. Vote for this comment

    How would you deal with over friendly staff? (if you are the employer/Boss)

    528 votes. Asked by Rash on . View more.

     how would you get things done from them effectively when there is a reluctance in their attitude towards work?

  22. Vote for this comment

    The perfect project management tools for a financial project?

    527 votes. Asked by Alexander on . View more.

    Hi Scott

    Imagine you were running a financial project, for example a mergers & acquisitions transaction, or the acquisition of real estate or an industrial plant. Your project team would consist of internal staff (of the finance, tax, legal and technical departments) but also of external advisors (legal, tax, environmental etc.).

    For you, what would be the best tools (software, online platforms, concepts) for planning, tracking and controlling the project and supporting you in your job?


  23. Vote for this comment

    From which "angle" do i write my book?

    506 votes. Asked by Mrs Janetta Burridge on . View more.

     Hello Scott,

    When i left school back in good old 1989, my english teacher said to me, “I expect to see your name on a book soon.” Which i took as a compliment, and at the age of 22yrs old (ish!), i did indeed write a book, i chose fiction, as my english teacher said “i have great imagination, with detail”, i have yet to fully “put it to paper”, because when i sit down, start typing away, it just rolls on, im telling a story, i dont actually feel like im getting the reader really interested in it. I have gone back to it occasionally and read it, and started to change bits, whole chapters sometimes, I suppose i could say it lacks substance. Im not sure on whether to tell it from one of the main characters view, or as the author, thinking it may add something like a new angle to it. Im now 43yrs old…and its about time i got on with it ! Any advice?

  24. Vote for this comment

    How to address the challenges of projects running in parallel?

    498 votes. Asked by Alexander on . View more.

    A project team might consist of persons that also have a line responsibility and may even work on other projects running in parallel to yours. In that case there is more than one (project) manager who has a say in setting priorities and allocating working time. What are your views on running a project with this “part-time” staff?

  25. Vote for this comment

    what mistake did you make as a child, and how did you resolve this mistake?

    495 votes. Asked by Avery Bolton on . View more.


  26. Vote for this comment

    Four steps to ending faith that important things can be explained in four steps

    491 votes. Asked by Scott on . View more.

    Question says it all.

  27. Vote for this comment

    Activities for Public Speaking Club

    485 votes. Asked by Veeta on . View more.

     What activites would you suggest for Public Speaking club for employees, mostly finacial professionals and engineers?

  28. Vote for this comment

    How could a design process be effected if the name of the process-phases was focusing on feelings rather than action?

    458 votes. Asked by Theresia Torenholt on . View more.

    In my last project about embodied technology, i reflected upon my process as have been an act of play rather than a typically thought design process of building of a product.

    *Design thinking phases (here Ideo): discovery – interpretation – ideation – experimentation – evolution (wording of action)
    **The 7 element of play: anticipation – surprise – pleasure – understanding – strength – poise (wording of feelings)
    Non of these phases and elements should be seen individually, as you hopefully mess up the chronology while working with them.

    Need to say that my process was highly focusing on the element of exploring and personally having fun while learning new technologies, but I was also conducting interviews, observations, interventions and testing to constantly improve the existing prototype and idea and in the end create something new and fun for others.
    As my own process was mainly driven by the words ‘fun and play’, i found inspiration from Scott G. Eberle elements of play, as a means to explain my process. I found the wording very liberating, because they were not dictating the actions that i was to do, but more focusing on how i felt during the process.

    As this was a reflection i did in the end of my project periode, i would like to get your thoughts on how you think feeling-based wording could affect f.eks. a workshop where you through design-thinking empower others to strengthen their innovation skills. And also, I would very much like your thoughts on which feelings you would highlight in that regard.

    All the best,
    Theresia Torenholt

  29. Vote for this comment

    What if you start your life from the beginning, what would you start with then?

    445 votes. Asked by Marina Sunshine on . View more.


  30. Vote for this comment

    What to do when your customer asks for an advice, but he’s an I-know-it-all guy?

    444 votes. Asked by Arturo Mojica Correa on . View more.

    it is self explained, it is not?

  31. Vote for this comment

    What is your take on Gerald Graff's essay "Hidden Intellectualism"?

    443 votes. Asked by Jose Mora on . View more.


  32. Vote for this comment

    How to give a good talk when your mind may be somewhere else?

    440 votes. Asked by Zsolt on . View more.

    Hi Scott,

    I had a talk a couple of days ago and I was struggling more with a personal issue (my girlfriend was sick) than with the talk. I decided to give the talk anyway and I’m wondering if you know some tricks to “hide” these personal things and give a good talk.


  33. Vote for this comment

    Can processes and manager compensate for lack of skills?

    430 votes. Asked by Marc Labbe on . View more.

    Working in an environment where workforce is more easily available than skillset, you can often see management trying to compensate by throwing more managers in and put processes in place. This is supposed to protect workers (developers) and systems from making mistakes.

    How to convince management to work in a different way?

  34. Vote for this comment

    What are the most effective ways to manage change in "bad systems?"

    428 votes. Asked by Ian on . View more.

    Kinda related to the “accepting bad systems” post: when there’s a bad system that’s been identified, what are some techniques to manage the change that must happen to or in that system?

  35. Vote for this comment

    Please post a Lessons Learned piece regarding 'Neptune'

    420 votes. Asked by Will Parker on . View more.

    The only time I’ve heard you speak was at your final talk at Microsoft. You gave a rousing analysis of the process that led to Windows XP, rather than a Microsoft OS that arguably could have better than both Mac OS X 10.0 and Win XP.

    I’d like to see your current thoughts on that lost battle.

  36. Vote for this comment

    How do you plan to get the most out of your travel?

    419 votes. Asked by jcopenha on . View more.

    How do you plan to get the most out of your travel? What tips do you have for other people that are traveling on business or for fun?

  37. Vote for this comment

    Is Elon Musk's Hyperloop just "another idea" or is it meaningful?

    410 votes. Asked by Jason on . View more.

    Why is it that Elon Musk’s Hyperloop is not just “another idea”. Does delivering something give you more credibility to just pitch ideas? He says he will “probably” build a prototype but initially he just put the ideas out there for someone else to follow up on.

    Idea? Hype? or a real innovation/innovator?

  38. Vote for this comment

    Advice for scientific writing

    407 votes. Asked by Daniel H. (Germany) on . View more.

    I guess many people have to write papers as part of their (scientific) work. I currently work on my Ph.D. Thesis and often find myself struggeling on how to bring my ideas and results into written form.

  39. Vote for this comment

    When is an individual justified in executing orders from a superior when the order goes against the individual's conscience?

    405 votes. Asked by Rollo McFloogle on . View more.


  40. Vote for this comment

    Is the dichotomy between usability and security real?

    405 votes. Asked by jcopenha on . View more.

    I know you love to poke at perceived dichotomies so have you given much thought to the one between usability and security? Both are extremely important areas and it is often seen as having to chose one over the other. How do we teach designers about security? How do we implement security and take into account usability?

  41. Vote for this comment

    My now former boss switched to another team in our department and is very happy to no longer be working with us. We've all lost a lot of respect for this person, is there any way we can 'call out' this behavior?

    404 votes. Asked by Mari on . View more.


  42. Vote for this comment

    How do you set and prioritize your goals?

    394 votes. Asked by Brian Krall on . View more.

     As a self-motivated writer with tons of ideas, how do you decide what to focus on?

  43. Vote for this comment

    Did people skim books before the invention of the Internet, the way they now admit they skim on computers?

    384 votes. Asked by Sean Crawford on . View more.

    I’m smart enough to have a degree, but in my head I’m not a “computer guy.”
    At first I was astonished to learn how so many admit on the web to skimming. Now I’m used to it.
    Someone once tried to compliment Roger Ebert’s by saying Ebert’s journal blog was the only thing he didn’t skim. Given that Ebert was an avid reader, I doubt he was altogether pleased, and neither was I. Maybe most people were always like this, and I just never noticed, or maybe nerds specifically have minds so quick they’ve never learned the pleasure of slowing down. Or maybe anecdotal wisdom is right, and we are losing our attention spans, especially if we have computers or devices.

    I don’t know if there is any research you can access, but maybe your computer friends and your thinking and your splendid common sense (splendid in your on-line life, at least) could be used to gently bridge the gap of the two ways of reading. 

    What sparked me to finally ask this question was a current collection of essays called The Edge of the Precipice. (Open it at page 72)

  44. Vote for this comment

    Why can't I just say or Do what I think in front of people?

    382 votes. Asked by brock on . View more.

    I’ve never been social. Typical, right? But I understand people to a T. I know why they do things and why they say stuff. Heck, I know the answer to this question! I can’t say things I’d normally say to my Brother I’ve lived with for 15 years to others because I’m afraid it’ll fail. i’m afraid it will come off as weird. i can’t joke in the same way or manner. i can’t talk Philosophy because I’m afraid I’m wrong. I even know, inside me, I’m right. But I just CAN’T act the same in front of people. So my real question is “How to I undo this?” How do I let go of my Inhibitions and just Stop Caring?

  45. Vote for this comment

    In the absence of penalties for failure and rewards for excelling, is excellence in public services possible?

    375 votes. Asked by Tom on . View more.

     I live in the UK and I work for the NHS, I spent many years in the Private Sector before I entered the world of Public Sector services. I find that sufficing behaviour and target obsession disorder are common in the Public Sector. The end-user of the service is not viewed as the customer, the funding dept. is viewed as the customer that must be satisfied. In this climate can we expect anything other than mediocrity at best from Public Sector services?

  46. Vote for this comment

    Realm of theoretic meta-models vs. Solutions:

    372 votes. Asked by Daniel H. (germany) on . View more.

    I’m working on a Ph.D thesis and this has been bugging me for a while:

    It is quite easy to get lost in the realm of theory and metamodels: To build up a meta-model of whatever you are trying to do and come up with a lot of theoretical explanations and different chains of thought to build up and explain all your ideas. It appears as if the further away from practical work (or actual problemsolving, however you want to call it) something is, the more likely it is to get lost in this “trail of ideas”.

    In discussions, I often encounter things like “meta-models for the process of innovation” and completely fail to understand how they can actually help me getting stuff done and why people can spend hours arguing about how the meta-models should be arranged and refinded.
    Rather intuitively, I’ve decided to work on my own research topic by looking for problems and questions which are attached to my topic and then try to solve them – if I come up with a handy tool or method which does work on actual problems, I try to generize it and try it on other problems. This has lead to a nice, working set of tools and also has kept me from getting lost in the “realm of theory”.

    Now, my questions are:
    – Can you think of topics / areas where “theoretical thinking” is superior to “problem-based thinking, later generized”? Philosophy? Theoretical physics?
    – Is it justified to ask “what is this good for / how good is this at helping me solve problem XY” whenever you are confronted with a metamodel? At all times? Are there exceptions?
    – Are there things you can suggest from your own experience? What is your own optionion on the topic?

  47. Vote for this comment

    How did you start speaking about these topics?

    368 votes. Asked by Patrick McGehee on . View more.

     I noticed you majored in “computer science and design” (your website), I plan to major in Computer Science but am also interested in some of the topics you discuss. How did you transition from Computer science to talking about creativity?

  48. Vote for this comment

    under what condition do you work best and worst?

    366 votes. Asked by jelyn on . View more.


  49. Vote for this comment

    How do you decide what to write/blog about?

    362 votes. Asked by Eddie on . View more.

    I found your talk at WCSEA very, very helpful. There are no short cuts to writing, as you said. I think what I need help on is finding relevant topics and questions that matter most to my audience. I write about coffee – a huge broad topic. Do readers want to read something that get read on Yelp – or do they want deeper profiles of the characters behind the coffee scene?

    How do you prioritize your posts (in a world where evergreen material is more valuable)?

  50. Vote for this comment

    Does anyone really care about privacy or security in the digital world?

    359 votes. Asked by Rob on . View more.

    We read click bait all the time about data losses, hacking, leaked photos. However I don’t see this affecting user behavior. People still shop at Target, Home Depot, use iCloud, etc. So does anyone really care?

  51. Vote for this comment

    Why has our education system continued to go downhill when we've been talking about the problems for several decades?

    355 votes. Asked by Jan on . View more.

    The decline of education in the U.S. is a grave problem. Our country is falling behind other developed countries and if we don’t do something about it, our status, and therefore our standard of living, will suffer drastically in the near future (it has already started). Why have we not been able to solve the problem of educating our children? The solution is not rocket science, yet we are unable to accomplish the task to ensure our future.

  52. Vote for this comment

    355 votes. Asked by Peter Colligan on . View more.

    MOOCS. How will it change Education? How do we give it credibility? Can I finally get my computer science PHD at home online? Does it disrupt out traditional scholarship and research dogma ? Ie. openPhD, open access journals, etc

  53. Vote for this comment

    What is the relationship between innovation and transformation in leadership ?

    354 votes. Asked by Nomsa on . View more.


  54. Vote for this comment

    How do you deal with internet trolls?

    351 votes. Asked by Aimee Ingram on . View more.

    As a blogger you have very little control over how people interpret your article once it has been published. I can appreciate that everyone has different opinions and am happy to take onboard constructive criticism, however, internet trolls are on a whole new level. I was recently told, among other things, to “go die…” after one of my articles was published on Elite Daily. I found their comments amusing yet pretty intense considering it was a silly article on dating (imagine if I had wrote about something politcal).
    So how do you deal with kind of feedback? It’s very negative and puts a huge downer on your desire to continue blogging for these a*shole.

  55. Vote for this comment

    How to give a kick ass eulogy

    350 votes. Asked by Geoff B on . View more.

    Keep it short? Tell stories? What makes a dynamite eulogy

  56. Vote for this comment

    Why is ISIS so successful in recruiting the youth into their ranks?

    350 votes. Asked by Chris Del Monte on . View more.


  57. Vote for this comment

    How can you draw others out in conversation?

    349 votes. Asked by Ty on . View more.

    All of us will have to interview people at some point in our week, whether over a dinner conversation, in a job, or even in a public event. How can we do this better? Are there questions or techniques that are especially helpful for this? How should we phrase questions so that they start and continue good conversations?

  58. Vote for this comment

    Is there more reference material on your post "Why project managers get no respect"

    347 votes. Asked by Umeet Bhachu on . View more.

     HI Scott, I enjoyed reading your blog about “why project managers get no respect” published back in 2008. I wholeheardtly concur with the premise that many project managers or students of project management get bogged down and tied with the process rather than the output. They are usually busy creating and tracking lists and paper work that might not really help in achieving the goal in the first place which is to complete the project with-in time, cost and schedule and in addition to keep the team motiviated and determined. The task of project managers is becoming more akin to lawyers who addressing or targeting a project from a legal standpoint (i.e paper work, recording details they are not relevent to the final result and negotating contracts, etc) which would typically fall into the relam of contract admistration or legal…not project management….

    I would wondering if you had further reserach or crediable articles supporting your view about this premise. Would much appreciate.

  59. Vote for this comment

    What is love?

    347 votes. Asked by Alexander Garcia on . View more.

    A lot of people believe we can do something to love or love can do something to us. In essence, what is love? Is it something tangible or is it something that just….is? 

  60. Vote for this comment

    discuss why success in innovation is dependant on resources and the capability of the organisation to manage them

    333 votes. Asked by michael on . View more.

     my name is michael pursuing a a degree in Human Resource Management at Mulungushi university in Zambia

  61. Vote for this comment

    Is it possible to teach creativity?

    322 votes. Asked by Leonie Overbeek on . View more.

     Can people be taught creativity in schools and if so, how? Given the standardized testing and ‘no child left behind’ pressures on schools, how will teachers be able to implement, sy, some of John Cleese’s ideas about creativity in their classrooms?

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