Ever walk into a networking event and all you hear is bland chit-chat? The small talk is so deafening and rarely evolves into anything substantial. You can hardly stand not to elicit an eye-roll in between sips of your Margarita.

Questions like, what do you do? and where do you live? Are plain boring and predictable; commentary about the last night’s game or the weather forecast fill up awkward moments as people size each other up to determine — is this is someone I want to talk to?

As it turns out, the types of conversations you’re engaging in truly matter for your personal and professional well-being and happiness.

So, it’s time we erase feeble questions and start using these 13 fail-safe conversation starters cherry-picked just for you:

1. What’s your story?
2. What’s the most expensive thing you’ve ever stolen?
3. What is your present state of mind?
4. What absolutely excites you right now?
5. What book has influenced you the most?
6. If you could do anything you wanted tonight (anywhere, for any amount of money), what would you do and why?
7. If you had the opportunity to meet one person you haven’t met who would it be, why and what would you talk about?
8. What’s the most important thing I should know about you?
9. What do you value more, intelligence or common sense?
10. What movie is your favorite guilty pleasure, and why?
11. You are stuck on a deserted island, and you can only take three things. What would they be?
12. When and where were you happiest in your life?
13. What do you think is the driving force in your life?