Close

How can we help you?

We want to hear from you. And it’s easy to reach us. Give us a shout at 844-886-2252, send us an email at hello@mediumgiant.co, visit our contact page, or fill out the form right here. You can expect a response within two business days.

Close

What are you looking for?

Using intentional curiosity to drive business and personal growth

Intentional curiosity has the power to transform your career and business. 

I’ve been curious my entire life, though it hasn’t always worked in my favor. It’s even gotten me into trouble a time or two. Our society has a way of suppressing curiosity and even punishing it at times. 

But research shows that an intentional practice of curiosity can bring surprisingly beneficial results in the business world. Curious people have greater happiness, deeper emotional intelligence, and can better unlock new opportunities for growth. 

I’ve been curious about business challenges and their solutions my entire career. At Medium Giant, curiosity is the foundation of our organization, so I get to be on a team that puts curiosity into practice to deliver results for our clients. 

As you read this article, allow yourself to be whimsical, get your brain open, and follow any curious path it takes you on. 

What makes someone curious? 

Throughout my life, I’ve been inspired by curious characters. 

  • Ariel’s wonder of the unknown
  • Ted Lasso’s ability to create really meaningful connections with others 
  • Rick Castle’s capacity for finding surprising alternative outcomes
  • Luna Lovegood’s exploration into the mystic arts
  • Spencer Reid’s insatiable quest for knowledge
  • Anne of Green Gables’ thirst for imagination

I’ve often wondered if curiosity is an innate character trait or something that can be learned. Characters like these seem to have curiosity written into their DNA. 

But studies show that curiosity can be developed and expanded. We can all practice curiosity to further develop the muscle memory for questioning, thinking more deeply, and becoming more exploratory like these characters. 

Think about your favorite curious characters. What draws you to them? What traits of theirs stand out? How do they treat people in their lives? How do they ask questions? What do these characters have in common? 

One key element they all share is that they have happiness. 

Curiosity is associated with higher levels of positive emotions, lower levels of anxiety, more satisfaction with life, and a greater psychological well-being. This happiness creates a loop of asking more questions and developing all sorts of positive qualities that we’ll see. 

Curiosity in modern society is not a priority

Google defines curiosity as “a strong desire to know or learn something.” 

We define it as “the recognition, pursuit, and exploration of novel, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous events where there is a feeling of interest and the potential for learning.” 

Modern people are socialized to move away from curiosity. We are told that it could get us into trouble, maybe we’ll learn something we’re not supposed to learn, or maybe it’s a waste of time because we’ve already figured that thing out. That’s why our grandparents told us that horrendous story about the poor little kitty who got killed from being too curious. 

Humans begin life as curious creatures. By the age of 5 we’re asking 300 questions a day. And they are big questions: Why did the dinosaurs leave the earth? What would it be like if they were still here? Would I want a dinosaur as a pet? 

By the time we’re in high school, we’re only asking big questions once a month. Our questions instead are more procedural in nature. Questions like, “Can I go to the bathroom?” or “Will this be on the test?”

The workplace is even worse. With spreadsheets, reports, timelines, deadlines, and performance evaluations always a priority, we are rarely encouraged to explore these tasks with curiosity. 

While 83% of executives say they encourage curiosity in the workplace, only 52% of employees agree. 

When polled about the most important characteristics ranked by corporate culture, curiosity barely comes up at all: 

  • 36% communication 
  • 33% commitment
  • 30% self-motivation
  • 29% professionalism 
  • 20% passion 
  • 5% curiosity

And, yes, we realize these don’t add up to 100% because of methodology. Multiple answers were allowed.

Curiosity (s)killed the cat

Curious people provide a ton of value to an organization. The character traits enable curious employees to further expand their knowledge and skill sets around their roles at a company. 

Curiosity is linked to adaptive behaviors that are all valued in the workplace:

  • Tolerance of anxiety and uncertainty
  • Positive emotional expressiveness
  • Initiation of humor and playfulness
  • Unconventional thinking
  • Nondefensive and noncritical attitude

Sounds like an employee I’d like to work with.

As marketers we’re constantly looking for answers. Our industry changes at an incredible speed, and we need to expand our knowledge around marketing tactics. But instead of always searching for answers, it’s just as important to ask more questions. You’ll arrive at more well-rounded, holistic perspectives that will help scale your success faster. 

Curious people adapt more quickly to the changing landscape of marketing. Curious people in the workplace: 

  • Ask deeper and more impromptu questions
  • Are more well-read
  • Are more interested in how other people think, behave, and feel
  • Experiment with challenging tasks
  • Are more proactive
  • Are driven to increase their knowledge and skills with creative pursuits

The five dimensions of curiosity

People approach curiosity from multiple angles. Some are drawn to explore for the heck of it, while other people have a frustration or concern they might be missing out. 

Researchers have organized the different approaches to curiosity around five dimensions

No. 1: Joyous exploration

Learning skills just for the heck of it. Joyous exploration is the childlike wonder of following your interests wherever they take you. People who explore this dimension are consumed with positive feelings. Some examples:

  • Learning to knit
  • Playing the ukulele
  • Listening to a new genre of music
  • Learning how to bake bread

Yes, these were all the things I did during COVID. 

No. 2: Deprivation sensitivity

Scared you might not know something someone else does. Wanting to be informed in a news story so you are in the know. Recognizing a gap in knowledge and exploring it offers a relief. 

It’s not always a positive or feel-good pursuit, but it does help people solve a nagging problem. 

No. 3: Stress tolerance

Being comfortable with uncertainty. People who don’t have a fear of failure. Just a fearlessness about it. 

They are more likely to implement bold campaigns. New team structures. Make calls like let’s just see what will happen. 

No. 4: Social curiosity 

The need for meaningful connections, networking, trying to find people we can have deep conversations with. Social curiosity is the dimension where you observe others. It can even go as far as snooping, eavesdropping, or gossiping to do so.

No. 5: Thrill seeking

These are the fearless explorers — skydivers, rock climbers, sailors, etc., who seek out risky situations to touch the unknown. These people are willing to take physical, social, and financial risks to explore new experiences. 

Curiosity is at the center of innovation, technology, and art. Seeking to answer questions and having a drive to find out more unlock new opportunities in life and business. 

Instead of giving all of the information, give them a little bit. Get them a little more curious. How can you give your customers a teaser that leaves them wanting more? 

Ways to build a curious work culture

Many people work at companies that may not encourage them to be curious. It takes real effort to develop a culture around curiosity. When we do, it provides growth for ourselves, our team, our clients, and our company.

But first, we have to create environments where we embrace uncertainty. This is very hard to do. We need to be okay with answering, “I don’t know.” We don’t always have the answers, and we can’t be afraid to tell a boss or even a client that we might not know, but that we’ll go search it out. 

We’re not supposed to know or be expected to know everything. We should be expected to be curious and go and find out. 

Hire for curiosity

Curiosity begins with the right people. Here are ways to screen new applicants who have a curious mindset. 

First, add curiosity language to job descriptions. At Medium Giant, our connector job descriptions state: “Your friends, co-workers, and clients comment that you are one who pushes the status quo, sometimes to the point that it is uncomfortable. And always asks why.” We also state, “We approach our role with curiosity and the intention of building long-term relationships.”

Then test the applicant’s curious nature with the right interview questions. We have an interview series where we ask questions like these: 

  • Tell me a time when you had to learn something new very quickly?
  • Describe a time when something looked random, but in order to move a project forward you had to find an underlying pattern? 

Finally, you should get multiple perspectives with cross-functional interviews. It’s not enough to just get peers and leaders. People from different teams they’ll be working with will ask more varied questions that help uncover a person’s curious nature. 

Dedicate space

To embrace curiosity, you have to create dedicated time and space. Leaders and team members need room to model the curious behavior and traits for the company and invite others to join in. 

Each week at Medium Giant, we host a 15-minute, all-company huddle where we invite people to bring topics, trends, interests, and passions to present to the organization. It helps bring people up by allowing them to share their curiosity. This infectious exploration spreads and creates a flywheel of curious behavior. 

You should also create a culture of questioning and listening. The ability to ask questions to leadership helps increase transparency and understanding at the org. 

At our company, we’ve created an anonymous feedback loop, so employees are able to share feedback and ask questions to the leadership team. We use a tool called Incognito for Slack to facilitate this. It has created a great communication channel where you can ask any question you want, to encourage questioning and curiosity. 

Recognize and celebrate traits of curious people

To seal the deal you need to recognize and celebrate these behaviors in your team. Encouraging people by asking them what they think is a good first step. 

An awards program that recognizes curious traits and accomplishments in addition to the standard revenue awards will go a long way to make curiosity a part of the culture.

Our monthly awards recognize torchbearers and game changers who embrace behaviors and traits that personify curiosity. We also show the outside world how important it is for us when we share externally. 

A framework for curiosity

Because curiosity is active and intentional, it helps to have a framework for people to follow. There is no right answer for this one because every person and organization is a little different, so the way it manifests in their culture will be different too. 

The Medium Giant framework is built around two questions in an infinite loop: “why?” and “what if?” Why is our search to understand what’s possible, the known, the knowable. These are the things we can gather data on and synthesize into opportunities that provide answers. What if is about exploration. We create a strategic plan based on what’s possible, deploy and test, and analyze and learn. It’s a curious version of the scientific method that helps us never rest on our laurels and always push further for businesses we work with. 

This is an infinite loop because through questioning we end up back where we started with a new curious thread to uncover. 

Five tips to implement more curiosity in your day

Curiosity is a practice. It’s intentional and active. You have to build your curious muscles. Here are five ideas to help you implement curiosity.

No. 1: Make a list of 21 alternatives to an idea

When faced with a decision, instead of answering yes or no, make a list of 21 alternatives to an idea. Be crazy, wild, and adventurous. 

Think of this example: “How to arrive at a party in style.” Uber might be the first thing that comes to mind, but what if it was by scooter or limousine? What if you gathered a group of people to bike together or hired photographers to make your entry feel like the paparazzi is stalking you?

Just thinking about bodacious alternatives shifts your energy.

No. 2: Use all five of your senses to explore or enjoy experiences

This is a fun one. Take something as simple as eating an orange. Instead of just peeling and shoving it into your mouth, take a moment to appreciate the color, touch the ridges of the rind, notice the weight of the fruit, smell the sweetness, the sound of peeling, and the burst of citrus in your mouth. 

It becomes so much more enjoyable because you took the time to explore that experience.

No. 3: Use “and” instead of “but”

This is a BIG ONE and is very useful in a work situation. It helps when talking to colleagues when you add to their statements instead of diminish them.

No. 4: When in doubt, ask three more questions 

This is a core training for our revenue producers at Medium Giant. We train our teams to continue to dig deeper. Even if you think you have learned everything, push yourself to ask just three more questions.

No. 5: Take a different route

Change your scenery — even if it is just a little bit.

So on your drive home take a different route to explore your city. Changing your scenery is changing your perspective. You’ll start to notice things that you haven’t ever noticed before. How does this play out when you are working, dealing with projects while on deadline? You start to notice things that you wouldn’t have before. 

Once you get into the habit of questioning everything, you’ll develop your own curious habits. And this curiosity will unlock new opportunities for you and your business. 

Stay curious!

View the presentation for this topic

Using intentional curiosity to drive business and personal growth

Intentional curiosity has the power to transform your career and business. 

I’ve been curious my entire life, though it hasn’t always worked in my favor. It’s even gotten me into trouble a time or two. Our society has a way of suppressing curiosity and even punishing it at times. 

But research shows that an intentional practice of curiosity can bring surprisingly beneficial results in the business world. Curious people have greater happiness, deeper emotional intelligence, and can better unlock new opportunities for growth. 

I’ve been curious about business challenges and their solutions my entire career. At Medium Giant, curiosity is the foundation of our organization, so I get to be on a team that puts curiosity into practice to deliver results for our clients. 

As you read this article, allow yourself to be whimsical, get your brain open, and follow any curious path it takes you on. 

What makes someone curious? 

Throughout my life, I’ve been inspired by curious characters. 

  • Ariel’s wonder of the unknown
  • Ted Lasso’s ability to create really meaningful connections with others 
  • Rick Castle’s capacity for finding surprising alternative outcomes
  • Luna Lovegood’s exploration into the mystic arts
  • Spencer Reid’s insatiable quest for knowledge
  • Anne of Green Gables’ thirst for imagination

I’ve often wondered if curiosity is an innate character trait or something that can be learned. Characters like these seem to have curiosity written into their DNA. 

But studies show that curiosity can be developed and expanded. We can all practice curiosity to further develop the muscle memory for questioning, thinking more deeply, and becoming more exploratory like these characters. 

Think about your favorite curious characters. What draws you to them? What traits of theirs stand out? How do they treat people in their lives? How do they ask questions? What do these characters have in common? 

One key element they all share is that they have happiness. 

Curiosity is associated with higher levels of positive emotions, lower levels of anxiety, more satisfaction with life, and a greater psychological well-being. This happiness creates a loop of asking more questions and developing all sorts of positive qualities that we’ll see. 

Curiosity in modern society is not a priority

Google defines curiosity as “a strong desire to know or learn something.” 

We define it as “the recognition, pursuit, and exploration of novel, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous events where there is a feeling of interest and the potential for learning.” 

Modern people are socialized to move away from curiosity. We are told that it could get us into trouble, maybe we’ll learn something we’re not supposed to learn, or maybe it’s a waste of time because we’ve already figured that thing out. That’s why our grandparents told us that horrendous story about the poor little kitty who got killed from being too curious. 

Humans begin life as curious creatures. By the age of 5 we’re asking 300 questions a day. And they are big questions: Why did the dinosaurs leave the earth? What would it be like if they were still here? Would I want a dinosaur as a pet? 

By the time we’re in high school, we’re only asking big questions once a month. Our questions instead are more procedural in nature. Questions like, “Can I go to the bathroom?” or “Will this be on the test?”

The workplace is even worse. With spreadsheets, reports, timelines, deadlines, and performance evaluations always a priority, we are rarely encouraged to explore these tasks with curiosity. 

While 83% of executives say they encourage curiosity in the workplace, only 52% of employees agree. 

When polled about the most important characteristics ranked by corporate culture, curiosity barely comes up at all: 

  • 36% communication 
  • 33% commitment
  • 30% self-motivation
  • 29% professionalism 
  • 20% passion 
  • 5% curiosity

And, yes, we realize these don’t add up to 100% because of methodology. Multiple answers were allowed.

Curiosity (s)killed the cat

Curious people provide a ton of value to an organization. The character traits enable curious employees to further expand their knowledge and skill sets around their roles at a company. 

Curiosity is linked to adaptive behaviors that are all valued in the workplace:

  • Tolerance of anxiety and uncertainty
  • Positive emotional expressiveness
  • Initiation of humor and playfulness
  • Unconventional thinking
  • Nondefensive and noncritical attitude

Sounds like an employee I’d like to work with.

As marketers we’re constantly looking for answers. Our industry changes at an incredible speed, and we need to expand our knowledge around marketing tactics. But instead of always searching for answers, it’s just as important to ask more questions. You’ll arrive at more well-rounded, holistic perspectives that will help scale your success faster. 

Curious people adapt more quickly to the changing landscape of marketing. Curious people in the workplace: 

  • Ask deeper and more impromptu questions
  • Are more well-read
  • Are more interested in how other people think, behave, and feel
  • Experiment with challenging tasks
  • Are more proactive
  • Are driven to increase their knowledge and skills with creative pursuits

The five dimensions of curiosity

People approach curiosity from multiple angles. Some are drawn to explore for the heck of it, while other people have a frustration or concern they might be missing out. 

Researchers have organized the different approaches to curiosity around five dimensions

No. 1: Joyous exploration

Learning skills just for the heck of it. Joyous exploration is the childlike wonder of following your interests wherever they take you. People who explore this dimension are consumed with positive feelings. Some examples:

  • Learning to knit
  • Playing the ukulele
  • Listening to a new genre of music
  • Learning how to bake bread

Yes, these were all the things I did during COVID. 

No. 2: Deprivation sensitivity

Scared you might not know something someone else does. Wanting to be informed in a news story so you are in the know. Recognizing a gap in knowledge and exploring it offers a relief. 

It’s not always a positive or feel-good pursuit, but it does help people solve a nagging problem. 

No. 3: Stress tolerance

Being comfortable with uncertainty. People who don’t have a fear of failure. Just a fearlessness about it. 

They are more likely to implement bold campaigns. New team structures. Make calls like let’s just see what will happen. 

No. 4: Social curiosity 

The need for meaningful connections, networking, trying to find people we can have deep conversations with. Social curiosity is the dimension where you observe others. It can even go as far as snooping, eavesdropping, or gossiping to do so.

No. 5: Thrill seeking

These are the fearless explorers — skydivers, rock climbers, sailors, etc., who seek out risky situations to touch the unknown. These people are willing to take physical, social, and financial risks to explore new experiences. 

Curiosity is at the center of innovation, technology, and art. Seeking to answer questions and having a drive to find out more unlock new opportunities in life and business. 

Instead of giving all of the information, give them a little bit. Get them a little more curious. How can you give your customers a teaser that leaves them wanting more? 

Ways to build a curious work culture

Many people work at companies that may not encourage them to be curious. It takes real effort to develop a culture around curiosity. When we do, it provides growth for ourselves, our team, our clients, and our company.

But first, we have to create environments where we embrace uncertainty. This is very hard to do. We need to be okay with answering, “I don’t know.” We don’t always have the answers, and we can’t be afraid to tell a boss or even a client that we might not know, but that we’ll go search it out. 

We’re not supposed to know or be expected to know everything. We should be expected to be curious and go and find out. 

Hire for curiosity

Curiosity begins with the right people. Here are ways to screen new applicants who have a curious mindset. 

First, add curiosity language to job descriptions. At Medium Giant, our connector job descriptions state: “Your friends, co-workers, and clients comment that you are one who pushes the status quo, sometimes to the point that it is uncomfortable. And always asks why.” We also state, “We approach our role with curiosity and the intention of building long-term relationships.”

Then test the applicant’s curious nature with the right interview questions. We have an interview series where we ask questions like these: 

  • Tell me a time when you had to learn something new very quickly?
  • Describe a time when something looked random, but in order to move a project forward you had to find an underlying pattern? 

Finally, you should get multiple perspectives with cross-functional interviews. It’s not enough to just get peers and leaders. People from different teams they’ll be working with will ask more varied questions that help uncover a person’s curious nature. 

Dedicate space

To embrace curiosity, you have to create dedicated time and space. Leaders and team members need room to model the curious behavior and traits for the company and invite others to join in. 

Each week at Medium Giant, we host a 15-minute, all-company huddle where we invite people to bring topics, trends, interests, and passions to present to the organization. It helps bring people up by allowing them to share their curiosity. This infectious exploration spreads and creates a flywheel of curious behavior. 

You should also create a culture of questioning and listening. The ability to ask questions to leadership helps increase transparency and understanding at the org. 

At our company, we’ve created an anonymous feedback loop, so employees are able to share feedback and ask questions to the leadership team. We use a tool called Incognito for Slack to facilitate this. It has created a great communication channel where you can ask any question you want, to encourage questioning and curiosity. 

Recognize and celebrate traits of curious people

To seal the deal you need to recognize and celebrate these behaviors in your team. Encouraging people by asking them what they think is a good first step. 

An awards program that recognizes curious traits and accomplishments in addition to the standard revenue awards will go a long way to make curiosity a part of the culture.

Our monthly awards recognize torchbearers and game changers who embrace behaviors and traits that personify curiosity. We also show the outside world how important it is for us when we share externally. 

A framework for curiosity

Because curiosity is active and intentional, it helps to have a framework for people to follow. There is no right answer for this one because every person and organization is a little different, so the way it manifests in their culture will be different too. 

The Medium Giant framework is built around two questions in an infinite loop: “why?” and “what if?” Why is our search to understand what’s possible, the known, the knowable. These are the things we can gather data on and synthesize into opportunities that provide answers. What if is about exploration. We create a strategic plan based on what’s possible, deploy and test, and analyze and learn. It’s a curious version of the scientific method that helps us never rest on our laurels and always push further for businesses we work with. 

This is an infinite loop because through questioning we end up back where we started with a new curious thread to uncover. 

Five tips to implement more curiosity in your day

Curiosity is a practice. It’s intentional and active. You have to build your curious muscles. Here are five ideas to help you implement curiosity.

No. 1: Make a list of 21 alternatives to an idea

When faced with a decision, instead of answering yes or no, make a list of 21 alternatives to an idea. Be crazy, wild, and adventurous. 

Think of this example: “How to arrive at a party in style.” Uber might be the first thing that comes to mind, but what if it was by scooter or limousine? What if you gathered a group of people to bike together or hired photographers to make your entry feel like the paparazzi is stalking you?

Just thinking about bodacious alternatives shifts your energy.

No. 2: Use all five of your senses to explore or enjoy experiences

This is a fun one. Take something as simple as eating an orange. Instead of just peeling and shoving it into your mouth, take a moment to appreciate the color, touch the ridges of the rind, notice the weight of the fruit, smell the sweetness, the sound of peeling, and the burst of citrus in your mouth. 

It becomes so much more enjoyable because you took the time to explore that experience.

No. 3: Use “and” instead of “but”

This is a BIG ONE and is very useful in a work situation. It helps when talking to colleagues when you add to their statements instead of diminish them.

No. 4: When in doubt, ask three more questions 

This is a core training for our revenue producers at Medium Giant. We train our teams to continue to dig deeper. Even if you think you have learned everything, push yourself to ask just three more questions.

No. 5: Take a different route

Change your scenery — even if it is just a little bit.

So on your drive home take a different route to explore your city. Changing your scenery is changing your perspective. You’ll start to notice things that you haven’t ever noticed before. How does this play out when you are working, dealing with projects while on deadline? You start to notice things that you wouldn’t have before. 

Once you get into the habit of questioning everything, you’ll develop your own curious habits. And this curiosity will unlock new opportunities for you and your business. 

Stay curious!

View the presentation for this topic

Want content like this delivered to your inbox?

More Like This

Hands shaking with connections all around and growth.
December 15, 2022
Curiosity
Curiosity, Marketing Strategy
407
Essential roles of the CMO graphic
September 8, 2022
Curiosity
Curiosity, Marketing Strategy
311
How to stay hip as a marketer
September 27, 2021
Curiosity
Curiosity, Marketing Strategy
240