A Curious Mind by Brian Grazer

  • Date read: October 2019.
  • How strongly I recommend: 8/10. 
  • A Curious Mind Recommend borrow from local library
Brian Grazer – American film / television producer and occasional as screenwriter. Notable pieces: A Beautiful Mind, Arrested Development, Apollo 13, Splash, etc. Brian wrote a book about how curiosity is underrated, and how it has helped him become good at what he does. He has had many conversations with people of all walks, from the father of atomic bombs to survivor of terrorist torture. I love asking questions ever since I was a child. I’ve always wondered about how things work, why are things the way they are, religion, politics, archeology, who we are. I’ve always considered myself curious and I thought I was just going to get to validate the fact that curiosity is great for a person’s soul. On top of all of that I expected, I learned a lot more from Brian’s book.

1. Doing nothing can be a very powerful action unto itself.  Brian described a situation where he wanted to talk to someone who is the CEO the company, and he thought about reaching out but doesn’t know where to start. He ended up doing nothing, and his work spoke for him when he got to meet the CEO of the company. Curiosity isn’t always about asking the question, or asking for an opportunity.

2. Convincing someone else to be onboard with you is to give them the power to lead. Talking to Tom Cruise and asking him to help be an example for the rest of the cast to save money. “Can you be the team leader here with the cast and crew? Can you be the guy that sets an example?”

3. People should ask their bosses questions:

  • “what are you hoping for?”
  • What are you expecting?
  • What’s the most important part of this for you?

4. Anti-curiosity: there are times you should not be curious Because I don’t need someone casting doubt, when they’ve spent an hour thinking about the project, and I’ve spent three years thinking about it. If they’re saying no, I need all my determination and confidence to grab hold of the idea and take it to the next person with the same level of passion and enthusiasm. You can’t get anything done trying to absorb and neutralize everyone else’s criticism.

5. How to have a Curiosity conversation:

“I’ve always been curious about your work, I’m trying to broaden my sense of that world, and I was wondering if you’d be willing to spend twenty minutes talking to me about what you do, what the challenges and the satisfactions are.”

“I’ve always been curious about how you ended up as [whatever their profession is], and I was wondering if you’d be willing to spend twenty minutes talking to me about what it took to get where you are – what the key turning points in your career have been.”

“I am a vice president at the local hospital, and I have a lifelong interest in astronomy. I was wondering if you’d be willing to spend twenty minutes talking to me about your own work and the current state of the field. I appreciate that you don’t know me, but I am writing out of genuine curiosity – I don’t want anything more than a twenty-minute conversation, at your convenience.”

  • Be clear that you want to hear their story. You’re not looking for a job, you’re not looking for advice about your own situation or any challenges you’re facing. You’re curious about them.
  • Even if the person you’re talking to is someone you know well, be respectful – treat the occasion with just a tinge of formality, because you want to talk about things you don’t normally; dress well; be on time; be appreciative of their time even as you sit down to begin.
  • What was your first professional success?
  • Why did you decide to do [whatever their job is]?
  • Tell me about a couple of big challenges you had to overcome.
  • What has been your biggest surprise?
  • How did you end up living in [their city]?
  • What’s the part of what you do that outsiders don’t appreciate?

6. Be grateful: thank the person you spoke with for sharing their stories.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.