This former Bloomberg TV anchor mastered the art of asking questions

Flight Templates are templated flights, or sets of questions, written by some of the world’s preeminent business leaders. With Flight Templates, Balloon users get unparalleled access to seasoned perspectives and proven business strategies across all areas of business, including leadership, product, marketing & sales, innovation, employee experience, culture, and more. This feature is part of a series on The Insight that profiles Balloon’s Flight Plan authors.

Betty Liu is not one to rest on her laurels.

According to the former Bloomberg TV anchor, former Vice Chairman of the New York Stock Exchange, and current founder and CEO of D and Z Media Acquisition Corp. herself, the most stable hallmark of her professional journey has been, ironically, frequent change.

“I haven't had a very straight career path. I’ve had several careers, really,” Liu said. “I've been a journalist, I’ve been an entrepreneur, I’ve been a C-suite executive and now the CEO of a public company. That's really been the consistency in my career: Not being consistent.”

A fear of change is hard-wired into our brains, but Liu has made a name for herself by fighting against that tendency—and she’s learned to love it in the process.

“While I was at Bloomberg, I was interviewing people like Warren Buffett, Elon Musk, and other true titans, and I was so inspired,” Liu said. “I knew I needed to make a jump, so I started my own company, Radiate.”

Radiate, a platform that offers online learning content in a subscription model, was acquired in June 2018 by Intercontinental Exchange, a Fortune 500 tech company, only 18 months after it was launched. Having successfully sold her first company, Liu then joined the New York Stock Exchange as its Vice Chairman, a position she held until November 2020, and eventually founded D and Z, a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC.

Throughout her many careers and the uncertainty that came with every transition between them, Liu says her consistent ability to stay not only above water but also heads above her peers can be attributed to two things: her readiness to ask questions, and her openness to feedback.

“I was trained as a journalist, so it’s ingrained in me to know that it's okay to ask questions, regardless of your position,” Liu said. “I've learned that just because someone’s in a senior role or has climbed the ladder at a company does not mean that they know everything. Nobody knows everything, and if you have questions, there’s a good chance that so does everyone else. And really, that’s the only way you’ll ever find a solution.”

Having run the gamut of industries, too, Liu knows that the value of asking great questions is universal. And because she knows that not everyone has the same aptitude for inquiry that comes with being a veteran reporter, Liu created a three-part flight template series, Avoiding Complacency, in order to give leaders in any company a strong place to start.

  • Build a More Diverse Board
  • Prioritization and Increased Productivity with the 1-3-5 Rule
  • Address Friction Points

Liu’s series also reflects some of the main points of her professional philosophies, which have served her quite well throughout the years: Surround yourself with varied perspectives, communicate and align with your team on goals, and, when disagreements inevitably arise, ask questions rather than clinging to your point of view—and keep asking questions until everyone comes to an understanding.

Whether you’re at a tiny startup or a billion-dollar-corporation, there are going to be disagreements. The way I’ve been able to persuade people to get on board with whatever I’m advocating is to avoid leveraging my opinion, but instead using logical reasoning. Questioning is probably the biggest part of that,” Liu explained. “Everyone comes to the table with a set of beliefs based on experience and biases and preferences and so on. But every time, asking a question like, ‘Why do you feel that way?’ or ‘Why do you think that?’ starts a dialogue rather than a debate. And there really shouldn’t be winners and losers because you’re all on the same team.”

Check out Betty Liu’s Flight Plan Series

Chairman and CEO, D and Z Media Acquisition Corp