Top 30 Quotes on Curiosity and Creativity

“Creativity is simply connecting new dots in new ways.” – Sam Horn, Intrigue Expert creativity connecting new dots - middle

If you’e read any of my books or attended any of my presentations, you already know I love quotes. Why? Pithy, profound, provocative quotes are a quick way to get our message’s foot in our readers’, viewers’ and listeners’ mental door. When we introduce something people haven’t heard before; they want to know more.

The thing is, the quotes need to be FRESH. If we launch into a quote people have seen or heard before, it’s more likely to earn a groan than an intrigued “Tell me more.”

Here are my favorite 30 quotes on creativity and curiosity. Hope you enjoy them and are able to use them to craft intriguing communications that elicit curiosity in your topic. I’ve added a sample of how each quote could offer fresh insight into a subject you’re addressing.

1. “If there were a rehab for curiosity; I’d be in it.” – CBS news anchor Diane Sawyer (Thankfully, there is no cure for curiosity. It’s one of the healthiest ways to live life.)

2. “I think we need a 12-step group for non-stop talkers. We’re going to call it On and On Anon.” – Paula Poundstone (We’re curious only when we’re listening and genuinely interested in understanding what the other person means – not when we’re talking).

3. “Curiosity will conquer fear more than bravery will.” – James Stephenson (Instead of trying to summon up courage – summon up curiosity.)

4. “I am in love with hope.’ – Tuesdays with Morrie Author Mitch Albom (Pessimism is an absence of hope or curiosity in how we can create a better future).

5. “There’s no such thing as a wrong note as long as you’re singing.” – singer Pete Seeger (There’s no wrong in creativity – the whole idea is to do it your way.)

6. “The minute you settle for less than you deserve, you get even less than you settled for.” – columnist Maureen Dowd (Compromise is often the death of curiosity; it means we’re giving up on finding a new way, a better way.)

7. “There is moment in every child’s life where a door opens and lets the future in.” – author Graham Greene (The goal is to be aware when a creative opportunity presents itself – instead of being so busy we overlook it.)

8. “What a wonderful life I’ve had. I only wish I’d realized it sooner.” – singer Colette (Part of a creative life is being grateful for life’s wonders now, not someday.)

9. “Life loves to be taken by the lapel and told, ‘I am with you, kid. Let’s go.’” – author Maya Angelou (Curiosity isn’t passive – it’s an energetic embracing of life).

10. Before there were drawing boards, what did we go back to?” – comedian George Carlin (A good sense of humor – and being curious to find more effective ways of doing things – is at the heart of creativity.)

11. “Guard your good mood.” – Academy Award-winning actress Meryl Streep (Being in a bad mood kills creativity and curiosity because they require positive energy.)

12. “To do what you love and feel that it matters; how could anything be more fun?” – Katherine Graham of the Washington Post (If you’re having fun, it’s a good sign you are being curious and creative.)

13. Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight or any experience that reveals the human spirit.” – e. e. cummings (Yes, curiosity rests on a fundamental belief that the human spirit is a blessing to be experienced, not protected.)

14. “Teachers affect eternity. Who knows where their influence will end?’ – Henry Brooks Adams (If we can teach our kids anything, it’s that curiosity and creativity are encouraged and welcomed, not stifled and shut down.)

15. “I have the world’s best job. I get paid to hang out in my imagination all day.” – author Stephen King (Imagination + Curiosity = Creativity.)

16. “Let us then, be up and doing.” – author Longfellow (It’s not enough to believe in the importance of curiosity and creativity, we must ACTIVATE it in our everyday lives.)

17. “I have found if you love life, life will love you back.” – composer Arthur Rubenstein (A heartfelt yes to this quote – one of my favorites. Loving and appreciating life is at the core of creativity and curiosity.)

18. “Everyone thinks of changing the world, no one thinks of changing himself.” – author Leo Tolstoy (Instead of simply recommending what others should do, we must go first, set the example and model the creative change we’re suggesting).

19. “Research is formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose.” – Zora Neale Hurston (Instead of getting ahead of ourselves and jumping to conclusions; research requires that we be open to discovery and that our playing be purposeful.)

20. “It is always with excitement that I wake up in the morning wondering what my intuition will toss up to me, like gifts from the sea. Intuition tells the thinking mind where to look next.” – Jonas Salk (Creativity calls for us to honor intuitive nudges that are pointing us in new directions, pointing out new options.)

21. “”The world was shocked to learn I wrote a bestseller at 66. No matter how long you live, you have stories to tell. What else is there to do but head off on the Conestoga wagon of the soul?” – Pulitzer Prize winning author Frank McCourt, Angela’s Ashes (The good news is, we can be creative at any age if we keep our curiosity alive.)

22. “The purpose of life is to . . . matter; to feel it has made some difference that we have lived at all.” – Leo Rosten (One of the surest ways to make an enduring difference is to create a new way, a better way, to live life and do business).

23. “When you can do a common thing in an uncommon way; you will command the attention of the world.” – inventor George Washington Carver (by definition, creativity is looking for an uncommon answer. If it’s common, it’s not creative.)

24. “Creativity is based on the belief that there’s no particular virtue in doing things they way they’ve always been done.” – Rudolph Flesch (Turn status quo into status grow. Don’t be content to do same-old, same-old.)

25. “Curiosity is the wick in the candle of learning.” – William Ward (May we keep the fires of curiosity burning – and light the way with our creativity).

26. “I think, at a child’s birth, if a mother could ask a fairy godmother to endow it with the most useful gift, that gift should be curiosity. – Eleanor Roosevelt (I agree. Einstein called this “knowledge curious;” and I did everything I could while my sons Tom and Andrew were growing up to encourage and support their curiosity – because as long as we’re curious about life’ we’ll always be engaged and eager to discover what’s next.)

27. “The travel impulse is mental and physical curiosity. It’s a passion. And I can’t understand people who don’t want to travel.” – Paul Thoreaux (This is why I set off on my Year by the Water. It grew out of a mental and physical curiosity about wanting to explore the many parts of this intriguing world I hadn’t yet had an opportunity to experience – out of an innate passion to discover what over the next knoll.)

28. “You can’t just give someone a creativity injection. You have to create an environment for curiosity and a way to encourage people and get the best out of them. Sir Ken Robinson (Have you seen Sir Ken Robinson’s #1 rated TED talk about how schools are killing creativity? He’s right. As leaders, teachers and parents, we need to create a climate conducive to creativity and curiosity – and that means not punishing people when they come alive with excitement and are bursting with creative energy.)

29. “Creativity is not just for artists. It’s for business people looking for a new way to close a sale; it’s for engineers trying to solve a problem; it’s for parents who want their children to see the world in more than one way.” – Twyla Tharp (I listened to Twyla Tharp’s excellent The Creative Habit while traveling across America. She says, “Every creative project needs a spine. What’s yours?” Mine is connection, for when we’re curious about what’s happening to and around us, we’re deeply connected.)

30. “It may be that our cosmic curiosity… is a genetically-encoded force that we illuminate when we look up and wonder.” – Neil deGrasse Tyson (Yes, looking up, looking out and looking around in wonder is the quintessence of curiosity.)

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Sam Horn is on a mission to help people create more compelling, collaborative communications that add value for all involved. Her TEDx talk and books – including POP!, Tongue Fu!, IDEApreneur and Washington Post bestseller Got Your Attention? – have been featured in New York Times, Forbes, INC and Fast Company and presented to NASA, Accenture, ASAE and National Geographic. Want Sam to present at your next convention? Contact Cheri@IntrigueAggency.com

Down with Elevator Speeches

“Enough about me.  What do you think about me?” – Bette Midler in the movie Beaches

While speaking at an INC 500 event, I introduced a new approach for replacing elevator SPEECHES with elevator CONNECTIONS.

sam tedx image

An entrepreneur named Colleen raised her hand and said, “I can’t figure out how to do this for my business.”

I asked what she normally said when meeting people. She started explaining her job, using technical terms like magnetic resonance imaging and computed tomography. None of us had any idea what she did.

I asked, “Want to brainstorm a better way to answer the ‘What do you do?’ question.”  She said a heartfelt “YES.”

“Okay, from now on, instead of EXPLAINING what you do (which is kind of like trying to explain electricity), focus on the real-world results of what you do that people can see or may have experienced.  What are those?“

She said, “Hmm.  Well, I run medical facilities that offer MRI’s and CT scans.”

“That’s better already because we can mentally picture what you’re talking about. It’s no longer conceptual or highly technical.  Plus, we probably know someone who has had an MRI or CT scan so now we can relate to it.

But don’t stop there. If you TELL people what you do, they’ll go, ‘Oh,’ and that’ll be the end of the conversation. We don’t want to CLOSE conversations, we want to OPEN conversations. You can do by asking a three-person question.”

“What’s this about a three-person question?”

“If you ask, ‘Have YOU ever had an MRI?’ and this person hasn’t, the conversation comes to an awkward dead-end. If you ask, ‘‘Have you, a friend, or a family member ever had an MRI?’ you just increased the likelihood they’ll know someone who is familiar with what you and your organization offers.”

“Okay, what next?” 

“You LISTEN.  Imagine the person says, ‘Yeah, my daughter hurt her knee playing soccer. She had an MRI.’ Just link what you do to what they just said. ‘Oh, I run the medical facilities that offer MRI’s … like the one your daughter had when she hurt her knee playing soccer.’

They’ll probably say an intrigued “Aaahh.” which is a lot better than an apathetic “Oh” or a confused “huh?” It means they GET what you do which means they’re more likely to remember you. As a bonus, if they ever need what you do, they’re more likely to contact you because people like to do business with people they know and like.”

She said, “Why is it so important to use the same words they used? I don’t want to parrot them.”

“Good point. I’m not suggesting we repeat what they said word for word. I’m suggesting we use a few of the same words because common language is what connects two strangers who, a moment ago, didn’t know if they had anything in common.”

She thanked me, sighed and said, “I wish someone had taught me this years ago.  I can’t wait to get back to work and share this with my staff.”

How about you?  What do YOU say when people ask, “What do you do?” What do your employees and team members say?

Think about it. Whether we like it or not, wherever we go, the people we meet will ask “What do you do?” And what we say MATTERS.  

That CEO’s inability to answer that question at the INC 500 conference could have meant millions of dollars in lost opportunity costs. She was surrounded by highly successful entrepreneurs, all in a position to partner with her, refer business to her or use her services. But that wasn’t going to happen because they didn’t know what she did – which meant they didn’t value it and wouldn’t remember it. 

Many people tell me they hate this question, for a variety of reasons. They don’t know how to answer it. They feel it pigeon-holes them and they don’t want to be defined by their job. They’re out of work. Or, they don’t have a position or profession people respect. Some tell me they dread “networking” because it means being subjected to a series of long-winded, boring, confusing elevator speeches.

I tell them, it can be helpful to realize that when people ask “What do you do?”, they’re not really trying to find out what you do; they’re trying to connect. They’re trying to identify what you have in common you both care about so they have a hook on which to hang a mutually-interesting conversation.

Which is why it’s so important to stop TELLING people what you do. An elevator speech is a monologue delivered in the presence of witnesses. A scripted, rehearsed-to-death elevator speech borders on being offensive because it’s a one-way lecture.

Elevator Speech

Instead, next time someone asks what you do, you might want to say, “I’d be happy to talk about what I do, and first may I find out more about you?” By giving other people an opportunity to go first, you’ve not only set a precedent that you’re genuinely interested in them and it’s not going to be “me, me, me;”  you’re sure to discover something relevant you can use to customize your opening so it reflects and integrates what you already know about them.  

When it’s your turn, remember, instead of launching into an explanation, ASK a three-person question that gives the other person an opportunity to share how they – or someone they know – have experienced or benefitted from what you do.

Truly listen to their response, and then link what you do to what they just said.

Voila.  You’ve just created a two-way conversation (dialogue vs. a monologue) that is a lot more likely to lead to a mutually-meaningful CONNECTION.  Furthermore, you’re also acting as an eloquent ambassador for your profession because the people you meet will have new-found appreciation for the work you do and the positive difference it makes for so many.

Want to see how this is done?  Watch this TEDx talk and share it at your next staff meeting. Be sure to have paper and pen or your laptop ready so you can take notes on how to adapt this approach to upcoming, real-life situations.

The first example in the TEDx talk shows how to introduce your idea or organization in a business setting where you’re trying to win buy-in, support, a green light or funding from decision-makers. The difference is,  by ASKING (a dialogue) instead of TELLING or SELLING (a monologue); you’re genuinely engaging people instead of lecturing them with INFObesity.

The second example in the TEDx talk shows how to introduce yourself at networking events or conferences when you’re meeting people for the first time.

Hope you find this approach and short video useful, and they help you genuinely enjoy meeting people and create more mutually-rewarding connections that benefit all involved. 

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Sam Horn, Founder/CEO of the Intrigue Agency, helps people create intriguing respectful, collaborative communications and projects that scale their influence – for good. Her work – including POP!, Tongue Fu! ConZentrate and Sam Horn’s Washington Post bestseller Got Your Attention? How to Create Intrigue and Connect with Anyone – has been featured in New York Times, Fast Company, Forbes and on NPR.  Her inspiring, interactive presentations receive raves from Intel, Cisco, NASA, National Geographic and Capital One. Contact Cheri Grimm at 805 528-4351if you’d like to arrange for Sam to speak at your convention or train your team.