“Much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on.” Steve Jobs
There’s something about summer holidays that brings out the big kids in us. It’s not just ice cream on the beach and staying up really late, it’s something about having time to get utterly absorbed in big things and little things. Staring up at the stars or following the pattern in a seashell. We’re all born with a natural curiosity, a desire to understand why things are the way they are – it’s just that growing up and the routines that govern everyday life tend to squash it.
And that’s a pity, because when it comes to driving business direction and fuelling the best content, it’s not creativity or cleverness that matters most, it’s curiosity. Genuine curiosity is the state of mind that fuels the very best content of all. A burning curiosity can fire you into action, if you give it the space and the oxygen it needs.
When you follow your natural curiosity good things seem to happen. Unexpected doors open when you keep asking the right questions.
Curiosity at work
1. Curiosity fuels a new work direction
Curiosity can fire a career change and develop a business. Our friend Jimmy moved from strategy consulting with IBM to strategy for small businesses based on a campaign of curiosity. He asked good questions of small business owners (because he really wanted to know how they ticked) and found a footing in field which kicked his career in a new direction. (People appreciate being asked good questions about what they do. People love it if you are genuinely interested in them.)
2. Curiosity sparks connection
Mark Masters funnelled his fascination with understanding how content marketing works best into a series of fascinating interviews with the best content marketers that helped build his brand. He talked to everyone in the field and built his own knowledge in the process. It demonstrated how serious he was in terms of learning how to make it really work, and sparked connections that have built his business.
3. Curiosity carves out clarity
Henneke Duistermaat’s blogs always feel like they’ve been written with a curious mind. When you’re curious about something you keep uncovering the layers and unravelling the knots. Henneke does this with language and writing – it’s her curiosity (and generosity of spirit, an utterly fearless combination when it comes to great content creation) that helps the reader understand why some headlines will get clicked, and why crunchy words stay in the mind for longer.
Curiosity is a powerful force.
Genuine curiosity is compelling – why?
“To solve others’ problems we need to ask questions, and to listen, in other words to be curious focusing not on what we know but what we don’t know. It is our curiosity which creates the situations which allow us to contribute.” Charles H. Green
Following your curiosity is a natural way into striking up conversations that will throw up the really interesting answers. Curiosity puts your focus and interest on the other.
“A state of curiosity is intrinsically other-focused. Its purpose is discovery.” Andrea P. Howe
It is flattering to be on the receiving end of real curiosity.
Think about the last time someone was trying to sell to you. You could probably tell through the series of questions being asked and the tone of voice they were being asked in that you were being assessed for a potential sale. Whether the interest was feigned, not real. So many business interactions follow a script. Give the wrong answer and the ‘I’m interested in you’ light is switched off.
When someone is genuinely curious about you it’s different. Foster that curiosity, and you might find out something more interesting altogether. Turn the light on someone else and you will find your new angle, or a new question, or a new viewpoint that will make your interaction different and better.
“The only way to influence someone is to find out what they want and show them how to get it” Dale Carnegie.
Whether you are selling, advising … or writing, curiosity will connect.
Channel your curiosity through your writing
Curiosity on its own can be a wonderful thing, but if you want to make it work for you, you have to DO something with it. Put your curiosity into action.
If you’re fascinated by a subject, don’t keep it to yourself. Nothing changes that way. Explore it, and then write about it and publish it – get it out there. (We’re talking to you, Rebecca!) Take the leap, share your ideas with the world and see what happens.
The great thing about writing and publishing content is that it gives your curiosity a tangible focus. It pushes you into action. Write and publish. Share what it is that fascinates and inspires you, and curiosity moves from being a solitary pursuit, to a force that can’t help but make connections. Share what you’re learning and thinking and you move from self absorption to creating something that helps other people.
If you want to unleash the power of your curiosity, you have to share it, and writing is the simplest way to share.
Release your inner content nerd
How can you harness creativity to create unputdownable content?
Curiosity will help you write with the valuable content mantra in mind: Help, don’t sell. Show, don’t tell. Talk, don’t yell. To do this you need to understand your customers inside out. What are they wrestling with? Who or what are they scared of? What do they dream about?
Ask your customers open ended questions, keep asking why, don’t be afraid to ask the stupid questions – the basic entry level questions – everyone has to start somewhere and it’s sometimes these that throw up the surprising new angles.
A curious mind trained onto people can create warm, engaging, and surprising content with real human interest. But what if your natural curiosity leads you down a different path? What if you’re uber-interested in design, or mechanics, or microbiology? Is curiosity still a benefit here?
Absolutely. Writing about the things you care most about is a good plan. Going deeper, asking why, pulling back the layers, looking from a different angle – curiosity prompts the same process wherever you focus it, and it creates the best content.
For an example of deeply technical content created by a bunch of curious experts (and we mean that in the nicest possible way) take a look at global engineering firm Indium Corporation. Their expertise shines through in their blogs and videos. ‘Choosing the Right Gold Solder Alloy for Hermetic Package Sealing‘ is not mainstream content that’s going to go viral; it is enthusiastic technical expertise that connects strongly with its market (Voiding in the Thermal Ground Pad of BTC Components). As content goes, it’s bang on the money.
Kickstarting curious creativity into action
How can you foster a state of constant active curiosity to help fuel great content? Here are some ideas:
- Never stop asking ‘why?’
- Think about the questions that genuinely fascinate you – what’s the core questions that underpin why you do what you do?
- Ask your clients and customers more questions – build time for calls with no sales agendas, just a burning desire to learn more. (If you feel happier having a script or jotting down a list of questions before a call, that’s fine. But be prepared to deviate from it if something more interesting pops up.)
- Listen more intently to their answers – ask follow up questions
- Make time to let your mind wander.
- Look it at challenges from a different angle.
- Seek patterns.
- Write about them.
- And go deeper.
Stay curious, keep exploring, and share what you’re learning. It’s good for you, and good for your business. A curious mind and a generous spirit is a force to be reckoned with.
Put that combination to work and you never know where it might lead you……
- Richard Branson’s address to graduates – Do something bold
- The curious case for curiosity in selling – by Charles H. Green
- Knowledge is power. Or is it? – By Andrea P. Howe
And if you’re in the Bristol area, check out Ryan James’ monthly Curious Conversations meet up too. Always fascinating.