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First-year student Rohan Rajiv is blogging once a week about important lessons he is learning at Kellogg. Read more of his posts here.

In our first Microeconomics class this quarter, our professor spoke of her experiences presenting research to audiences that included Nobel Prize winners. She noticed that the Nobel Prize winners were most often the ones who raised their hands and asked questions. Some of the questions could be perceived as simple questions, as they occasionally sought to clarify some of the most basic concepts of the discussion.

When she observed this pattern repeat over and over again, she realized it was that willingness to learn and dig deep that made the Nobel Prize winners special. They might not have understood the topic when they started, but they saw to it that they didn’t stay uninformed for long. Our professor’s message to us was to make sure we asked questions about any concept we didn’t understand in class.

This is my third iteration of being a student, and in my quest to learn how to learn, I feel like I’m finally beginning to understand and internalize lessons like this. This is a trait I observed in top executives from my time as a consultant as well. They were very willing to look simple and ask questions around the underlying assumptions. And these questions often unearthed real insight.

This lesson reminded me of the Mark Twain quote: “A person who won’t read has no advantage over one who can’t.”

You don’t often control your current level of understanding. But, staying at your current level of understanding is entirely your choice. If you find yourself wondering if your question is a stupid question, remember the Nobel Prize winners.

Thanks Professor!

Rohan Rajiv is a first-year student in Kellogg’s Full-Time Two-Year Program. Prior to Kellogg he worked at a-connect serving clients on consulting projects across 14 countries in Europe, Asia, Australia and South America. He blogs a learning every day, including his MBA Learnings series, on