Curiosity & Thank You

9 months ago I was speaking at a conference in Chicago and a lady in the front row asked me a question.

She asked, “what drives you?”

I think I said “People.” Or something that is as generic as boxed wine and the same regurgitated answer I would expect a speaker to say. I hated my response and I couldn’t get it off my mind.

That question sent me off on a 9 month quest to look back at my life, and what I’ve done, and really think about why I do it.

I finally dove in to my life mission and my personal mission. One that I think can really last and be at the core of everything I do. Curiosity and Thank You.

Curiosity is my mission, a thank you makes me happy.

My sole mission in life is to make the world more curious. That is what will make us realize we are all the same. If the world embraced curiosity we would solve most of our world’s problems. I truly believe we are all the same and miscommunication and unwillingness to be open to other ways of being are what cause many of our global issues.

On top of that, curiosity is the core of innovation. Being curious fuels creativity. Innovation is creativity that’s shipped. The way to be creative is to change your perceptions. The way to change your perceptions from what you know (perceptions are just your brain doing statistics to remember what it knows from the past) is to be in an environment where you have no external judgement and no internal motives, AKA a state of PLAY. So, at its core, innovation is started by being curious and challenging your perceptions with harder questions.**

Companies with a culture that promotes and celebrates curiosity are way more likely to drive innovation and creativity in their work. Curiosity means you’re allowed. Everyone needs to know it’s allowed and have an environment to be open. That’s what it enables.

On a personal note, I thought about times in my life when I was the happiest. It was when people said thank you. So, a few years ago I decided to try something.

During every interaction with someone, I would try to make them say thank you at the end. Give, don’t take. It changed everything.

I’ve been lucky to join boards, meet co-founders, start companies and have the opportunity to invest in some great companies too. All because of one simple change in how I went about life.

With that, I’m so excited to announce today that Assist is launching and we’ve raised a $1.5 million seed round from a great group of investors. There’s something special that happens when your professional mission aligns with your personal beliefs on life. Excited.

Much love,

Shane Mac — CEO of Assist

Interested in working for Assist? We’re hiring in SF and Seattle. Email me shane@joinassist.com. Learn more about Assist here.

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**Notes on innovation research. Research taken from this talk.
How does innovation start with curiosity? It’s actual proven by science. A neuroscientist from MIT found this out. Questions: What is innovation? Innovation is just creativity that’s shipped.

Perception is everything. The brain finds patterns (which are statistics) and then it associates that statistic with a meaning from the past.
So, we actually just see the past.

All changes in perceptions start with a question. The best questions = the most uncertainty. How do you celebrate uncertainty? You create an environment that is:

  • encourage diversity
  • open to possibility
  • cooperative
  • intrinsically motivated

Or, as the experts say “Play”
If innovation is about creativity and creativity is about your perceptions and the only way to change your perception is to ask questions in a state of play then why don’t companies, people spend more time thinking about this? 1. The next great innovation will be built in a sandbox not a board room. 2. Meetings are better at a bar than at my desk. 3. Maybe next time you are “playing around” you’ll think differently about it and ask yourself some harder questions.

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