Inspiration Through Curiosity

Scott Kronick

“The best thing you can do is be curious.  Get out of your comfort zone, travel the world, and look at things from a different angle.”

This was the advice of Clay Dube, a colleague at the University of Southern California (USC), who has led the USC US-China Institute for nearly two decades, in a conversation we were having with a few students involved in the Institute. Clay is a respected, long-time China hand, scholar and respected academic, and he shared these views as we were talking about the legacy of US educational institutions, and the qualities of the students that make up those institutions.

Travel The World, Gain A New Perspective

USC is very diverse and has many curious students from all over Asia.  In the conversation, Clay was expressing a wish and hope that US students of tomorrow will have the same level of curiosity about the world to shape their views as he had when he was younger.  He shared with me several statistics that show declining interest in US students in studying abroad, learning a second language and more. He did mention the pandemic had a big impact on this, but still the decline is worrying.

The topic of curiosity has been on my mind since this discussion. I, too, feel blessed to have traveled to many places throughout Asia. These visits have helped shape my views of the world around me, and I firmly believe only when you spend time in another country, speaking with residents of that land, will you be able to look critically on your own situation.

Surface Area of Luck

I wrote a blogpost on a related topic nearly two years ago.  It centers around the concept of “surface area of luck,” which I have written about a lot. The concept goes like this: The more people you meet to talk about your area of passion, the more luck you will have in succeeding.  I feel the whole curiosity theme dovetails with the surface area of luck concept, and I am sharing that blogpost here if you missed it before.

How to Improve Your Odds in Life: Surface Area of Luck

Face Your Fears

Separately, if you do anything this week, please take 20 minutes to listen to his commencement speech by Maria Shriver. Given this is graduation time and I shared Steve Jobs’ commencement speech last week, my very good childhood friend, Muffy MacKenzie, shared this with me. Shriver speaks to the students of the 2022 graduating class of the University of Michigan about facing their fears, and she is wonderfully authentic in the delivery.  That speech is here and thank you again Muffy for this great contribution.

How To Know A Person

Finally, I want to give a huge shout-out to a friend and former client, Sock Hwee Tan, who recommended this book by the famous columnist and commentator, David Brooks. Sock Hwee listened to a podcast Brooks participated in about the topic of “How To Know A Person: The Art of Seeing Others Deeply and Being Deeply Seen.”  Well, I listened to that podcast and followed up by listening to several of his talks. Brooks is so smart and dives into a topic he himself was not comfortable with. He serves up a recipe for happiness and connectivity through genuine curiosity, amid the smugness of the daily drumbeat of today’s news.   If you have 57 minutes, this is a great use of your time.

Thanks Sock Hwee, this book is on my things to read this summer.

Thanks all for being part of this community.  Have a great week ahead.

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Joyce Beach
Joyce Beach
29 days ago

Having read Maria Shrivers commencement speech I came away thinking she’d just bared her soul and I was feeling good. Thanks, Muffy.
I’ll read what David Brooks has to say. He mesmerized me when I saw him interviewed about his book.
Scott, this blog of yours is good for me. You encourage thoughts I might never have explored on my own.

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