I live in Los Angeles so I have spent a fair amount of time on the beach in Malibu. In Malibu, you walk down the beach and can become mesmerized by the beautiful ocean, waves crashing rhythmically. Surfers with no apparent awareness of life’s stresses maneuver their boards, carving up the waves until they subsume them. While walking down the beach, you never know who you might bump into.
As I was walking down the beach one day with my Dad, we ran into Brian Grazer, the successful movie and TV producer (A Beautiful Mind, Apollo 13, 24, Parenthood). I’d met Brian a couple times on the beach, but didn’t really know him. He stopped us and asked us a question that he was pondering. I don’t even remember the question, but it was something somewhat philosophical. We gave him our thoughts and then asked him why he asked us, virtual strangers. He told us that he does this all the time – he thinks about ideas and then just asks whoever crosses his path what they think. He does this just because he finds it interesting and stimulating. He had no idea how he would use the information he came across; he actually didn’t give it any specific thought. Perhaps this deepens his understanding of humanity and fuels his creativity, ultimately making him a very successful storyteller in the movie business.
I realize that I’ve done the same thing my whole life. Now, I’m not as successful as Brian Grazer; but I realize I’ve done the same thing my whole life, just not in the same way. I have pondered, questioned, explored, inquired, and read. Then I read some more. As a young boy, I remember my dad encouraging me to be open to learning, to be curious. He encouraged me to seek out opportunities to know more about my world and it has stayed with me ever since.
I do believe being curious and inquisitive has propelled me to my current role. Curiosity has made me a better analyst, digging in beyond the obvious, asking “hmmm, why is that happening?” Curiosity fuels me as an innovator – pushing me to find new ways to find out “if this doesn’t work, what does?” Curiosity enhances me as a leader, compelling me to always ask “how can I influence this organization to help our clients and employees thrive?” Curiosity drives me as a strategist, forcing me to continually ask “so what?®”
Sure, as CEO of a market research consultancy, my job is to be curious. But as demonstrated by Brian Grazer we can all improve our chances of success by seeking out the answers to “why?” “why not?” “what if?” and “so what?®”
Editor’s Note: This post is part of a 3-part series by Dave Sackman, LRW’s CEO, on the topic of success. This is the second post in the series on curiosity. You can read the first post in the series on the definition of success.