The digital agency where I work, Smashing Ideas, recently asked me to talk about one of our core company values, to Stay Curious, and what it means to me. As curiosity is also one of my personal values, and I passionately believe it’s a strength anyone can develop, I wanted to share some further reflections.
It’s essential to stay curious when building digital products, because curiosity sparks creativity and leads to innovation.
Albert Einstein once said, “I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.” We’ve all seen what’s come from Einstein’s new ideas and experimentation, and I believe this mindset is as valuable as ever today. In this age of information, we have unprecedented access to sources of knowledge online. But you can’t search Google for a new idea, or look up answers to questions that haven’t been asked yet.
To me, curiosity is about being interested in the world around you and asking lots of questions — about why things work the way they do, or why people behave the way they do.
I believe that a key ingredient for successful teams is a culture that supports constant learning and encourages each other to challenge assumptions and ask questions. On a digital team, that may be about the goals for a product we’re making, about the people who ultimately will be using it, or about ways we can improve our process.
Curiosity is essential to generate new ways of thinking.
Academy Award-winning producer Brian Grazer wrote an insightful book, A Curious Mind, where he describes how he uses curiosity to find stories to tell and make them feel really authentic.
I love how he describes curiosity and storytelling as natural allies:
Curiosity is what drives human beings out into the world every day, to ask questions about what’s going on around them, about people and why they behave the way they do. Storytelling is the act of bringing home the discoveries learned from curiosity. The story is a report from the front lines of curiosity.
Storytelling gives us the ability to tell everyone else what we’ve learned — or to tell everyone the story of our adventure, or about the adventures of the people we’ve met.
And on the flip side, a sign of a good story is that it makes you curious to know more — think of the times when you can’t put a book down because you’re dying to know what happens next, or you start wondering how much of a movie you’re watching is actually true.
In A Curious Mind, Grazer talks a lot about having ‘curiosity conversations’ with a wide range of people and how much he’s learned from them.
If I’ve piqued your curiosity so far, I’d definitely recommend checking out the book for a great perspective on curiosity, and how it can inspire us in so many aspects of life.
Stay curious, my friends.