A Curious Mind: The Secret to a Bigger Life by Brian Glazer

A Curious Mind: The Secret to a Bigger Life by Brian Grazer, Charles Fishman 

These were my favorite passages from Brian Glazer who is an Oscar-winning producer who produced 43 Academy Awards and 195 Emmys.

“She taught me to think of myself as curious, a gift that has served me every day of my life.” 

“More than intelligence or persistence or connections, curiosity has allowed me to live the life I wanted. Curiosity is what gives energy and insight to everything else I do. I love show business, I love telling stories. But I loved being curious long before I loved the movie business. For me, curiosity infuses everything with a sense of possibility. Curiosity has, quite literally, been the key to my success, and also the key to my happiness.” 

“also realized that curiosity had saved my ass that Thursday afternoon. I’ve been curious as long as I can remember. As a boy, I peppered my mother and my grandmother with questions, some of which they could answer, some of which they couldn’t.” 

“Curiosity has never let me down. I’m never sorry I asked that next question. On the contrary, curiosity has swung wide many doors of opportunity for me. I’ve met amazing people, made great movies, made great friends, had some completely unexpected adventures, even fallen in love—because I’m not the least bit embarrassed to ask questions.” 

“So I hit on a simple gambit. When I showed up, I would tell the intermediary—the secretary, the doorman—that I had to hand the documents directly to the person for the delivery to be “valid.” 

“I was just twenty-three years old, but I was curious. And I quickly learned that not only could I meet these people, I could also sit and talk to them. I would hand over the documents with graciousness and deference, and since it was the seventies, they’d always say, “Come in! Have a drink! Have a cup of coffee!” I would use these moments to get a sense of them, sometimes to get a bit of career advice. I never asked for a job. I never asked for anything, in fact. Pretty quickly, I realized the movie business was a lot more interesting than law school.” 

“The men and women whose contracts I delivered changed my life. They showed me a whole style of storytelling I wasn’t familiar with, and I began to think that maybe I was a storyteller at heart. They set the stage for me to produce movies like Splash and Apollo 13, American Gangster, Friday Night Lights, and A Beautiful Mind.” 

“curious enough about the TVs to know them well; curious enough about your own needs and watching habits to figure out which TV you need.” 

“Curiosity still gets no respect. We live in an era in which, if you’re willing to squint, all of human knowledge is accessible on a smartphone, but the bias against curiosity still infuses our culture.” 

“Outside of some truly exceptional places like Google and IBM and Corning, curiosity is unwelcome, if not insubordinate. Good behavior—whether you’re fourteen years old or forty-five—doesn’t include curiosity.” 

“First, people—even famous and powerful people—are happy to talk, especially about themselves and their work; and second, it helps to have even a small pretext to talk to them.” 

“But I was fascinated and captivated by it. I became like an anthropologist entering a new world, with a new language, new rituals, new priorities. It was a completely immersive environment, and it ignited my curiosity. I was determined to study it, to understand it, to master” 

“Sitting there on Calley’s sofa, it was clear that the business part of show business was all about conversation. And watching Calley work, I realized something: creative thoughts didn’t have to follow a straight narrative line. You could pursue your interests, your passions, you could chase any quirky idea that came from some odd corner of your experience or your brain. Here was a world where good ideas had real value—and no one cared whether the idea was connected to yesterday’s idea or whether it was related to the previous ten minutes of conversation. If it was an interesting idea, no one cared where it came from at all. It was an epiphany. That’s how my brain worked—lots of ideas, just not organized like the periodic table.” 

“My message was clear: I worked at a real place, I only wanted five minutes on the schedule, I did not want a job. And I was polite. Just like insisting on handing over the legal documents in person, the speech worked like a charm. I talked to producer David Picker, who was at Columbia Pictures.” 

“I started having what I called curiosity conversations. At first, they were just inside the business. For a long time, I had a rule for myself: I had to meet one new person in the entertainment business every day. But pretty quickly I realized that I could actually reach out and talk to anyone, in any business that I was curious about. It’s not just showbiz people who are willing to talk about themselves and their work—everyone is. For thirty-five years, I’ve been tracking down people about whom I was curious and asking if I could sit down with them for an hour. I’ve had as few as a dozen curiosity conversations in a year, but sometimes I’ve done them as often as once a week. My goal was always at least one every two weeks. Once I started doing the curiosity conversations as a practice, my only rule for myself was that the people had to be from outside the world of movies and TV. The idea wasn’t to spend more time with the kinds of people I worked with every day. I had quickly discovered that the entertainment business is incredibly insular—we tend to talk only to ourselves. It’s easy to think that movies and TV are a miniature version of the world. That’s not just wrong, it’s a perspective that leads to mediocre movies, and also to being boring.” 

“The results have always been surprising, and the connections I’ve made from the curiosity conversations have cascaded through my life—and the movies we make—in the most unexpected ways. My conversation with the astronaut Jim Lovell certainly started me on the path to telling the story of Apollo 13. But how do we convey, in a movie, the psychology of being trapped on a crippled spaceship? It was Veronica de Negri, a Chilean activist who was tortured for months by her own government, who taught me what it’s like to be forced to rely completely on oneself to survive. Veronica de Negri helped us to get Apollo 13 right as surely as Jim Lovell did.” 

“Over time, I discovered that I’m curious in a particular sort of way. My strongest sense of curiosity is what I call emotional curiosity: I want to understand what makes people tick; I want to see if I can connect a person’s attitude and personality with their work, with their challenges and accomplishments.” 

“Salk was gracious and friendly. Teller was crabby. And Carlos Slim was unlike what I expected, not brisk or businesslike or ruthless in any way. He was very warm. Very Latino. At lunch, he ordered a lot of courses, he drank wine, it seemed like he had nowhere else he wanted to be—our lunch lasted three hours. I’ve done hundreds and hundreds of curiosity meetings. It’s the thing I look forward to, and often the thing I end up enjoying the most. For me, when I’m learning from someone who is right in front of me, it’s better than sex. It’s better than success.” 

“I never made a movie about F. Lee Bailey, of course, although his life is certainly rich enough for one. I didn’t even make a movie about lawyers until twenty years later, when I did Liar Liar, with Jim Carrey, about what happens to a lawyer who is forced to tell nothing but the truth for twenty-four hours straight. For me, the curiosity conversations are just the most obvious, the most visible example of my own curiosity. They are a kind of discipline, like the exercise routine, because you don’t get to talk to busy, interesting people unless you put steady effort into persuading them to see you.” 

“Ron and I are different in many ways—especially our temperaments. But we share a sense of standards, including how to tell a story, and most important, we agree on what makes a great story. In fact, if there’s anyone I know who is as genuinely curious as I am, it’s Ron Howard. When we’re in meetings together, he asks as many questions as I do, and his questions are different, and they elicit different information.” 

“In Los Angeles in the 1980s and early 1990s, no one wielded power like Chief Gates. I was fascinated by that power, and by the personality that was able to accumulate it and use it. This type of influence is completely alien to me. I don’t see the world as a hierarchy—as a chain of command. I don’t want control over hundreds of people, I don’t see life, or work, as an opportunity to build up power and exercise it. I don’t particularly like giving orders, or seeing whether people have enough respect for me, or fear of me, to obey those orders. But the world is filled with people maneuvering for power—in fact, the typical workplace is filled with people like that, and we probably need them.” 

“As much as I’m fascinated by that kind of power, I’m also wary of it. I do want to understand that kind of personality, as a storyteller and also as a citizen. Chief Gates made a great curiosity conversation—the perfect example of a certain kind of autocratic mind-set, right in my own city.” 

“Gates turned to me. He didn’t flinch. Nothing in his biochemistry changed at all. He appeared totally calm. He said, to me and to his lieutenant, “No chance. I’ll be here as long as I want to be. They’ll never get me out.” He said it in a totally matter-of-fact way, just as he might ask, “How’s that tuna sandwich?” His ego, his arrogance, was just completely imperturbable. He had been in intense situations all his life. He wasn’t acting—for him, it was the sum total of seconds, minutes, hours, days, months of working under incredible pressure, and mastering it. He had accumulated all this authority, the ability and the willingness to use it. He was totally acclimated to it. He had become unflappable, impervious to the possibility that anything outside his own will could change his life.” 

“My mission was different. I wanted a sense of the personality of someone who wears the chief’s uniform with absolute confidence, who commands a miniature paramilitary state. What does an encounter like that do for me? First, it gets me completely out of the world I live in. For a few hours, I lived in Daryl Gates’s universe—a world that could not be more different from my own. From the moment he opened his eyes in the morning to the moment he closed his eyes at night, every single day, it’s likely that Chief Gates dealt with things that I had probably never even considered. The big stuff is different—his goals.”

That’s what Daryl Gates did for me: he completely disrupted my point of view. • • • WE ARE ALL TRAPPED in our own way of thinking, trapped in our own way of relating to people. We get so used to seeing the world our way that we come to think that the world is the way we see it.” 

“One of the most important ways I use curiosity every day is to see the world through other people’s eyes, to see the world in ways I might otherwise miss.” 

“Here’s a yellow legal pad,” he said. “Here’s a number-two pencil. Put the pencil to the pad. Go write something. You have to bring the idea. Because you’ve got nothing else.” I was stunned, but also amazed. Wasserman was the first person to cut through the swirl of the movie business for me and say, Here’s what you, Brian Grazer, can do to become a movie producer, to rise above legal clerk. Write. Otherwise you’re all talk.” 

“What Wasserman was telling me was that since ideas were the currency in Hollywood, I had to get myself some ideas. And he was saying that since I didn’t have any influence or money, I had to rely on my own curiosity and imagination as the source of those ideas. My curiosity was worth more than money—because I didn’t have any money. I didn’t walk off with Wasserman’s yellow legal pad and pencil. I’m pretty sure I got nervous and set them back down in his office. But I did just what he suggested: I got busy using my curiosity to create ideas.” 

“You have to anticipate what’s going to happen—by first disrupting your own point of view. The same skill, in a completely different context.”

“The indispensable cup holder wasn’t created by the engineers of great Eurocars—BMW, Mercedes, Audi. The first car cup holders debuted when Dodge launched its Caravan in 1983.”

“Who is going to use this product? What’s going to be happening while they are using it? How is that person different from me? Successful business people imagine themselves in their customers’ shoes. Like coaches or generals, they also imagine what their rivals are up to, so they can be ready for the competition.” 

“pretend I was silicone and, if I was injected into a mold, what I would do.” H. J. Heinz was so determined to understand its customers, it followed them home from the grocery store. Engineer Paul Brown was so determined to solve a problem, he imagined himself as liquid silicone.”

“If you treat the question with respect, the person asking it almost always listens to the answer with respect (even if they don’t respect the actual answer).” 

“Human minds yield helplessly to the suction of story.” —Jonathan Gottschall 

“Curiosity. Curiosity keeps you turning the pages of the book, it tugs you along to watch just one more episode, it causes you to lose track of the day and the time and the weather when you’re in a theater seat. Curiosity creates NPR’s “driveway moments.”6 Curiosity is a vital piece of great storytelling—the power of a story to grab hold of your attention, to create the irresistible pull of that simple question: what’s going to happen next?” 

“As it was, I got Fs in elementary school, with the occasional D. My savior was my grandmother—my mom’s mother Sonia, a classic 4-foot-10 Jewish grandmother. She was always telling me I was something special. My mother was upset—her son was failing third grade! She went off and found me a reading tutor, who slowly taught me to lasso the letters and the words on the page. My grandmother, on the other hand, was totally imperturbable. It was a real counterpoint.” 

“She just kept telling me, “You’re curious. Your curiosity is good. Think big!” My grandmother could see beyond the report card; it felt like she could see inside my head. She knew I was as hungry to learn as every other kid. I just had a hard time satisfying that hunger. My grandmother really helped make me something of a dreamer. She said to me, “Don’t let the system define you. You’re already defined—you’re curious!” What a thing to say to a boy in elementary school—“Don’t” 

“She has remarkable presence—given her level of responsibility, she always appears composed, even calm. She also conveys a sense of being in the know.” 

“Going into that meeting, I was scared of Isaac Asimov. I was worried about exactly what ended up happening: I was afraid of not knowing enough to have a good conversation with Asimov. But I hadn’t been smart enough to harness that fear to curiosity. I never made those mistakes again.” 

“First, I listened to the “no.” There was information in the resistance that I had to be curious about. I would say, “It’s a movie about a mermaid, coming onto land. She meets a boy. It’s funny!” That didn’t work. I would say, “It’s a movie about a mermaid, coming onto land. She meets a boy. It’s kind of a fantasy, you know?” They weren’t buying it. I needed to understand what people were saying no to. Were they saying no to a comedy? Were they saying no to a mermaid fantasy? Were they saying no to me—to Brian Grazer? It turned out that I first wrote and pitched Splash too much from the perspective of the mermaid.” 

“my curiosity helped me figure out how to change the mermaid movie just a little bit so other people understood it and appreciated it. There’s nothing more fruitless and unhelpful than idle curiosity. Persistence is what carries curiosity to some worthwhile resolution.” 

“Many years ago, he told me: make the hardest call of the day first. The hardest call of the day might be someone you fear is going to give you bad news. The hardest call might be someone to whom you have to deliver bad news. The hardest call might be someone you want to see in person who might be avoiding you.” 

“Whatever it is, the reason you think of it as the “hardest call of the day” is because there’s something scary about it. It’s going to be uncomfortable in some way—either in the encounter itself, or in the outcome of the encounter. But Allen’s point is that a task like that isn’t going to be less scary at noon or at 4:30 in the afternoon. Just the opposite, the low-grade anxiety from “the hardest call” is going to cast a shadow over the whole day. It’s going to distract you, maybe even make you less effective. It will certainly make you less openhearted. “Make the hardest call first.” That’s not quite about curiosity, and it’s not quite about determination—it’s a little bit of both. It’s grit. It’s character. Grab hold of the one task that really must be done—however much you’re not looking forward to it—and tackle it. That clears the air. It brightens the rest of the day. It may, in fact, reset the agenda for part of the day. It gives you confidence to tackle whatever else is coming—”

“But I wanted to make an impression. Hollywood is a land of style, a world where how you present yourself matters. Many of the people working here are so dramatically good-looking, that is their style. That’s not me, and I know that. When Ron and I were getting Imagine up and running in the early nineties, it was during a period when male Hollywood producers were developing a kind of collective persona. There was a group of young, successful producers doing loud, aggressive movies. They were themselves loud and aggressive—they were “yellers,” people who sometimes managed their colleagues by throwing things and screaming. And many in this same group wore beards. Bearded, aggressive men, producing aggressive movies.” 

“I wasn’t trying to be a world-class surfer or a world-class painter. I was just curious to taste the joy, the thrill, the satisfaction that those people got from mastering something that is both hard and rewarding. Curiosity gives you power. It’s not the kind of power that comes from yelling and being aggressive. It’s a quiet kind of power. It’s a cumulative power. Curiosity is power for real people, it’s power for people who don’t have superpowers.” 

“Connection gives meaning to our lives. Connection is why we’re here.” —Brené Brown 

“Bob Iger, the CEO of Disney, is a close friend who once gave me a piece of advice that has stuck with me. In the right circumstances, he said, “Doing nothing can be a very powerful action unto itself.” 

“That same weekend, he can return eager to talk about the eighteen-hundred-page biography of Winston Churchill that he finished reading during all his travels. Bob’s insistence on excellence, and his own wide-ranging curiosity, are tireless.” 

“That’s how a White House movie screening works—the movie itself is invited to the White House, and all the people responsible for making it get to come along. So Tom Hanks was going to the Apollo 13 screening at the White House, along with his wife, Rita Wilson, and so was the NASA astronaut that Hanks portrayed, Jim Lovell. The film’s director, Ron Howard, was going, and as the producer, I was going too. Also invited: Ron Meyer, the head of Universal Studios, and Edgar Bronfman, the CEO of the company that owned Universal. What could be more perfect? My movie gets invited to the White House—perhaps the most prestigious single movie screen in the whole country. And my new boss at Universal gets to be a guest at the White House, not just to see my movie, but because of my movie. That’s about as great an introduction to the boss as you could want. It was my first time at the White House. The night started with a cocktail reception. Bronfman was there. President Clinton and Hillary joined us” 

“It was, as I expected, a great setting to meet Edgar Bronfman. A lot of people were competing for his attention that night, of course, but we talked for a few minutes. Bronfman, tall and lanky, is very elegant, and extremely well mannered. “I love this movie,” he told me. “I’m so proud of this.” He was just a few weeks into owning Universal, but you could tell how genuinely excited he was about the movie business. He came out to Los Angeles three weeks later for the official premiere of Apollo 13 with his wife, Clarissa. The White House screening was the start of a friendship, and a working relationship, that lasted through the five years that Edgar owned and ran Universal as part of Seagram.” 

“To be a good boss, you have to be curious about the people who work for you. And to be a good colleague, a good romantic partner, a good parent, you have to be curious as well. True love requires curiosity, and sustaining that love requires sustaining your curiosity. Real intimacy requires curiosity. I use curiosity every day to help manage people at work, not just in all the ways we’ve talked about, but as a tool to build trust and cooperation and engagement. 

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The movie business is all about being able to “make your case.” With Splash, I had to make my case hundreds of times over seven years. After thirty years of successfully making movies, that hasn’t changed for me.” 

“James Brown had to be totally self-reliant, totally self-created. His impact on American music is profound. But he paid a huge price. His is a story about finding identity and self-worth. It’s a story of great triumph and also sadness, for him and for those closest to him.” 

“So if you’re going to survive in Hollywood—and I think if you’re going to survive and thrive anywhere in business—you have to learn to “make the case” for whatever you want to do. Making the case means answering the big questions: Why this project? Why now? Why with this group of talent? With this investment of money? Who is the audience (or the customer)? How will we capture that audience, that customer? And the biggest question of all—the question I’m always pulling back to the center of the conversation: What’s the story? What’s this movie about? Making the case also means answering the detail questions: Why these songs in that order on the soundtrack? Why that supporting actress? Why that scene? None of these are yes-or-no questions. They are open-ended questions—they are questions where the answer can itself be a story, sometimes short, sometimes a longer one.” 

He looked at me and said, “I’m one hundred percent that guy!” He said, “When I have to go to the bathroom, I’m going to run to the trailer and run back to the set. I’m going to set the pace for excellence, and respect, and tightening up.” And that’s exactly what he did. He led. He was motivated. And he motivated other people.” 

“Being persuasive, being successful, in a situation like that is hardly guaranteed. Some of it is in how you present yourself. I think Tom appreciated that I came to him with a problem, that I treated him as an equal, that I treated him as part of the solution. I allowed Tom to be curious about both the problem and how to fix it. Some of that is Tom’s character—he isn’t just thinking of himself.” 

“Tom did it. I think asking for people’s help—rather than directing it—is almost always the smart way of doing things, regardless of the stakes.” 

“I’ve discovered another unexpected characteristic of using questions: they transmit values. In fact, questions can quietly transmit values more powerfully than a direct statement telling people what you want them to stand for, or exhorting them about what you want them to stand for.” 

“Google’s page is legendary for its spare, almost stark appearance. There’s a clean page, a search box, a Google logo, two search buttons: “Google search” and “I’m feeling lucky.” And wide open white space. Today, the Google home page is considered a triumph of graphic design, a brilliant example of taking something as complex and chaotic as the World Wide Web and making it simple and accessible. (Both Bing and Twitter seem to try to channel Google’s simplicity and drama on their home pages—but neither can resist cluttering up the look.)” 

“For me, questions have become a habit I use myself. I’m always asking, ‘Why am I doing this material, this movie?’ “And you know, if something doesn’t work out financially—if it’s not a success, you want to be able to stand back and say, ‘This is still something I’m proud of.’ “The disadvantages of the questions are, in some sense, the same as the advantages. You wonder if you are delivering, and if you are delivering the right thing. Because the boss isn’t telling you. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone back to my office after a meeting, and I’m thinking, ‘Are we doing the right movie? Are we doing the movie the right way? Am I delivering?’ “This isn’t a science. It’s a creative business.” 

“The questions and the answers have to be driving a project or a decision forward. And you have to listen to the answer. You have to take the answer seriously—as a boss or a colleague or a subordinate. If you don’t take the answers seriously, no one will take the questions seriously.” 

“The questions, in other words, have to come from genuine curiosity. If you’re not curious enough to listen to the answer, all the question does is increase cynicism and decrease trust and engagement.” 

said, “Dr. Salk, I’m just not feeling that well this morning. I feel a little light-headed, a little sick.” He immediately said, “Let me go grab you a glass of orange juice.” And before I could say anything, he popped off to the restaurant and came back with a big glass of orange juice. This was long before most people had heard about the research that orange juice could really help perk you up if you were just getting sick. He said, “Drink this, it will bump up your blood sugar, you’ll feel better quickly.” I drank the entire glass, and he was right, it worked. It was kind of a surprising first encounter. Dr. Salk was so accessible, so human, so perceptive—he wasn’t some genius off in his own world. He behaved, in fact, like a physician. He noticed immediately that something wasn’t right, and he wanted to take care of me. That morning, our conversation was brief, no more than thirty minutes. Dr. Salk was a slight-framed man, very friendly, very engaged, very intellectual.” 


“These days, it seems, it’s almost a shock when people ask questions about you, and then stop long enough to absorb the answer. Curiosity is what creates empathy. To care about someone, you have to wonder about them. Curiosity creates interest. It can also create excitement.” 

“How many marriages that drift into disconnection and boredom could be helped by a revival of genuine curiosity on both sides? We need these daily reminders that although I live with this person, I don’t actually know her today—unless I ask about her today. We don’t just take our relationships to those closest to us for granted. We take for granted that we know them so well, we know what happened today. We know what they think. But we don’t. That’s part of the fun of curiosity, and part of the value of curiosity: it creates the moment of surprise.” 

“I talked a little bit about my son, but mostly I talked about John Nash’s story. I’d already produced two movies at that point that involved buying the rights to the stories of real people—The Doors and Apollo 13. You have to tell people the truth about the movie you want to make from their lives—you have to tell them the truth, and if you get the movie, you have to stick to what you promised. I told John Nash that I wouldn’t portray him as a perfect person. He’s brilliant, but also arrogant, a tough guy. That’s important. He has a beautiful love story with his wife. I said, “I want to do a movie that celebrates the beauty of your mind and your romance.” 

“It isn’t just that I did A Beautiful Mind because the story touched me personally. The way we did it came directly from my own experiences. And the way we did it, to me, makes it such a powerful, and such a valuable movie. My curiosity and determination to help Riley led me to A Beautiful Mind. And my experience being his father, and watching how he experiences the world, led us to a totally original treatment of mental illness. A Beautiful Mind is unquestionably the most gratifying movie I’ve ever made.” 

“I’ve talked about using curiosity to get around the “no” that is so common in Hollywood and at work in general. The first reaction to most ideas that are a little outside the mainstream is discomfort, and the first reaction to discomfort is to say “no.” Why are we glorifying a heroin dealer?2 Shouldn’t the football team win the big game? Who wants to watch a whole movie about a struggling white hip-hop artist? For me, curiosity helps find ideas that are edgy and different and interesting.” 

“I don’t want other people’s negativity to get inside my head, to undermine my confidence. I don’t need to hear a list of criticisms—whether it’s sincere or not. When you’re trying to get a movie made, when you’re making your case, you’ve spent months or years working on something, and you need to develop a kind of invulnerability if you’re both going to get it made, and protect it. When I’m checking in with people I want to join us, it works something like this.” 

“We were undercapitalized. We were uncomfortable with all the rules about public companies—what we had to reveal, what we could talk about, what we couldn’t talk about. After seven years, in 1993, Ron and I bought the company back from the shareholders. Before we went public, we certainly hadn’t been nearly curious enough about what being a “public” company would require of us.” 

“Most of the time, curiosity is energizing. It motivates you. It takes you to places you haven’t been before, it introduces you to people you haven’t met before, it teaches you something new about people you know already. Sometimes curiosity carries you to places that are hugely unpleasant or painful, but important. It’s hard to read about child abuse, it’s hard to read about war, it’s hard to hear about the painful experiences of people you love. But in all those kinds of cases, you have an obligation to learn, to listen, to understand. Sometimes you have to listen to people offering criticism of yourself—a smart boss might have great advice about how to be more effective at work, about how to write better, or how to be more persuasive. A colleague might be able to tell you how you sabotage yourself, or undermine your work, or damage relationships you need to be nurturing. In those instances, there’s something constructive coming from the curiosity, from listening, even though the conversation itself might be unpleasant.” 

“You know to stop being curious when your results are just the opposite of what you need—when they sap your momentum, drain your enthusiasm, corrode your confidence. When you’re getting a critique but not much in the way of useful ideas, that’s the moment for a pinch of anti-curiosity.” 

“And third, there is also something universal about your judgments—your taste can be understood and appreciated by people who aren’t as experienced as you, whose sense of taste isn’t as well developed as yours. Your good taste is educated, it has a splash of individuality about it, and also a certain breadth of appeal.” 

“(and then criticize them for being too partisan). Ultimately, the accountability has to come from the citizens. We need to be curious about how our government is functioning—whether it’s the local high school or the VA health-care system, NASA’s International Space Station or the finances of Social Security. What is the government supposed to be doing? Is it doing that? If not, why not? Who, in particular, is responsible—and do we have a way of getting them to do what we want, or should we fire them?” 

“Curiosity is as powerful in the public sphere as it is, for instance, at work. The very act of showing up and asking questions at a local government hearing is a vivid reminder that the government is accountable to us, and not the other way around. The questions communicate both authority and a sense of our values—whether we’re standing at the lectern at the school board meeting, or raising a hand at a candidate forum, or watching the House of Representatives on C-SPAN. The connection between the personal curiosity we’ve been discussing and this more public curiosity is very simple: it’s the habit of asking questions, of constantly reminding ourselves of the value of asking questions, and of our right to ask questions. In fact, it’s not just that democracy permits curiosity. Without curiosity, it’s not democracy. And the opposite is also true. Democracy happens to be the societal framework that gives freest rein to our curiosity in every other arena.” 

“For me, writing this book has meant thinking about curiosity in ways I never have, and it has revealed all kinds of qualities of curiosity itself that had never occurred to me before. In fact, I’ve tried to make curiosity itself a character in the book, because curiosity is available to anyone. My stories are meant to inspire you and entertain you—they are my experience of curiosity. But everyone gets to use curiosity to chase the things that are most important to them. That’s the wonderful way that curiosity is different from intelligence or creativity or even from leadership. Some people are really smart. Some people are really creative. Some people have galvanic leadership qualities. But not everyone.” 

“ONE OF THE THINGS I love about curiosity is that it is an instinct with many dualities. Curiosity has a very yin-and-yang quality about it. It’s worth paying attention to those dualities, because they help us see curiosity more clearly. For instance, you can unleash your curiosity, or it can unleash you. That is, you can decide you need to be curious about something. But once you get going, your curiosity will pull you along.” 

“This range of expertise is astonishing today, in an era when so many people, even scientists, are so specialized. The kinds of discoveries and insights made by someone like Hooke are thrilling. But what is really humbling is that scientists like Hooke didn’t just revolutionize how we understand the world—from the motions of the planets to the biology of our own bodies. They had to be revolutionaries. They were fighting contempt, mockery, and two thousand years of power structure that not only set strict limits on how each member of society could operate, but also what it was okay to ask questions about. As the scholar of curiosity Barbara Benedict explained when we talked to her, “One of the things that made the seventeenth- and eighteenth-century scientists really extraordinary is that they asked questions that hadn’t been asked before.” 

“Powerful people controlled information as well as armies. Rulers controlled the story. In that setting, curiosity was a sin. It was a transgression. It was “an outlaw impulse,” as Benedict described it in her book.” 

“let alone a force on the national stage? When I had seen Obama speak on television, like everybody who watched him, I was captivated and intrigued. To me, his communication skills were in another category. His communication skills were like Muhammad Ali’s boxing skills. It seemed as if he were performing magic, rhetorical magic.” 

“He was igniting emotions with words—the same way an image could.” 

“Obama’s office was very humble, but he was very welcoming—and he was totally present. None of the distraction you often find with busy, important people who are with you, yet constantly checking the clock or their email, their minds in four other places at once. He’s tall and wiry, and we sat on couches that were catty- corner—he greeted me, then he folded himself onto the couch with acrobatic fluidity, like an athlete would. He seemed completely relaxed, and totally comfortable with himself.” 

“Obama conveyed a real sense of confidence. He was in office number ninety-nine, but he was completely self- assured. Obama was just a year out of the Illinois State House, and five months into the Senate, and not even four years later he would be President of the United States.” 

“And he immediately started to talk about how he creates music—how he composes it, how he performs it, all in a way that was almost scientific. In fact, his whole manner transformed. When we first started talking, he had that high, slightly childish voice people know. But as soon as he started to talk about making music, even his voice changed, and he became another person—it was like a master class, like a professor from Julliard was talking. Melody, lyrics, what the mixing engineer does. It blew my mind.” 

“Oprah has that deep well of common-sense wisdom. Oprah also knows how to listen. She reminded me that life is the process itself, not the individual moments—that there’s fallibility, that of course there is both happiness and unhappiness. “I’m always trying to solve life myself,” she said.” 

“And send a very brief follow-up email thank you, perhaps highlighting one story or point they made that you particularly enjoyed, or that was particularly eye-opening for you. That thank-you email shouldn’t ask for anything more—it should be written so the person who gave you his or her time doesn’t even need to reply.” 

“Pay attention not just to what the person you’re talking to says, but how they say it. Often there is as much information in people’s tone, in the way they tell a story or respond to a question, as in the answer itself.” 

“Curiosity Takeaways What you’ll discover is that people love talking about themselves—about their work, about their challenges, about the story of how they arrived where they are. The hardest part is the very beginning. In a formal curiosity conversation, I would recommend not taking notes—the goal is a good conversation. Taking notes might just make someone uncomfortable.” 

“That was ten years ago. Charlie Rose planted the seed. Ron Howard—who knew about the incredible range of the curiosity conversations—would also occasionally nudge me to write a book. He feels like there is so much fun and insight packed into those decades of talking to people. But I was always a little uncomfortable with the idea—a book about my curiosity seemed like it would be egotistical, and not that interesting to anyone else.” 

“Brian is a master storyteller, and it has been fascinating, fun, and illuminating to work with him day after day bringing curiosity to life. His core belief in the power of curiosity to make everyone’s life better is an inspiration.” 

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Purpose: I create an empowering context for curious and hungry people looking for fulfillment, experiences, and creativity. We do this by developing their growth mindset, introducing self-love, and powerful group experiences. It results in people with strong boundaries, resilient mental health, and practical life skills

People leave with the ability to land their dream job, have autonomy and flexibility with their lifestyle, travel the world, and create from their heart and soul.


Davidson was once broke, insecure, low-confidence, and frustrated by doing all the wrong activities. Addicted to drugs, validation, and wallowing in self-pity. No relationship to family, and at the mercy of other people’s suggestions and opinions.

It was hell.

After spending $100k hiring different coaches, traveling the world doing workshops around the world, reading>1000 books, and through curiosity, have created the most effective system to remove people from that situation. My life’s work is to bring joy and abundance to people who as on a similar path as I was and bring back the joy and abundance of their life.

Through shared experiences and storytelling, I inspire and model behaviors that lead to a richer, more fulfilled life full of joy, experiences, passion, and ecstasy from the richness of relationships and being able to experience the depths of the human experience.

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