Cracking the Curiosity Code – An Interview with Dr. Diane Hamilton

About Dr. Diane Hamilton
Dr. Diane Hamilton is a nationally syndicated radio host, award-winning speaker, author, and educator. She is a thought leader in the fields of leadership, sales, marketing, management, engagement, personality, and motivation. A sought-after expert in emotional intelligence, Dr. Hamilton’s research has been published widely in peer-reviewed journals. She is also the author of several books sold worldwide: The Online Student’s User Manual, How to Reinvent Your Career, and It’s Not You, It’s Your Personality. Her latest book, Cracking the Curiosity Code will be published in January 2019.

Her success in multiple industries, authoring books, and career as an MBA Program Chair and Assistant Professor propelled Dr. Hamilton into the speaking world, and now she is regularly hired by companies like Forbes to speak to organizations to increase engagement, improve productivity, and reduce conflict. Whether through her radio show, a webinar, or a live presentation, Dr. Hamilton presents to and interviews leaders from some of the top organizations in the modern workplace.

Marcel Kuhn: Why do you research the field of curiosity?

Dr. Diane Hamilton: I came up with curiosity because I’m naturally curious about everything. I was supposed to have Dan Pink on my show today to discuss drive and motivation. He had to reschedule because of his new book. In one recent interview, he was asked, why he keeps changing topics. He said that he writes about things that he’s curious about.
I’m intrigued to find out what keeps people from being curious, why some people are more curious than others, and what makes them willing to go the extra mile to find the answers. Every child has a natural inclination to seek out answers. As we get older, our innate sense for curiosity decreases. Some people can stay more interested in things than others, and to find out the reason for that is what interests me. I’ve taught more than a thousand business courses, and I’ve seen every level of curiosity you can imagine in my students. I observed that the more curious the students were, the more successful they became.
I have interviewed hundreds of leaders, everybody from Steve Forbes to billionaires to hall of fame speakers. The running theme I learned from the interviews was that they wanted to learn more. That’s why I started pondering the question, why are these people so successful compared to other people and what are they doing differently? Also, a lot of it had to do with how much they develop their curiosity. It’s a topic I’ve always been interested in researching.

Marcel Kuhn: Did you find the curiosity code?
Dr. Diane Hamilton: Measuring curiosity is hard because of the multiple facets. I wanted to look at what’s holding people’s curiosity hostage. If you look at the research around ages four through six, curiosity starts diminishing. In my study, I found four things impact it including fear, assumptions, technology, and environment.

I think Carol Dweck’s book “Mindset” was a good book for parents, to understand what things they say unintentionally, will shut down the natural curiosity of their children. Often the parents only realize it much later, when looking back. I wonder about myself, what I had said that might have diminished the sense of curiosity of my kids. I aim at instilling that natural sense of curiosity to allow them to continue asking why. I try to give better answers, instead of saying I don’t know, or it has always been that way. Being sincere and being open for a dialogue, will motivate children to keep asking why.

In Steve Wozniak’s book iWoz, the co-founder of Apple wrote about how his father taught him how to create radios and other things. His father wouldn’t just tell him to do this or that; he would explain to him down to the nitty-gritty details how it works. I heard Steve Wozniak say, “Don’t tell them too much, let them figure it out.”

Marcel Kuhn: What are your daily rituals to stay curious?
Dr. Diane Hamilton: I think that there’s a lot you can do. Mel Robbins’ book “5 Second Rule” has good advice about responding quickly and going with your kneejerk reaction before you overthink it. If you follow your gut feeling, you are more apt to follow your curiosity. I like her advice.
I created an instrument that measures the factors that hold you back from being curious and provides advice for how to develop it. By doing little things, you build up the confidence to get to the big stuff. There a lot that we can do to get ourselves more used to the discomfort. Life would be dull to me if each day was the same and you knew what to expect. I think it’s much more exciting to deal with challenges, figure out the solutions and to get to the bottom of it. You’re so much more interesting person to talk to if you want to learn about different things.

Marcel Kuhn: What have you done this week to be curious?

Dr. Diane Hamilton: I try to learn something new about something different every day. Lately my husband, and I have been playing Jeopardy on our Echo device. I play Jeopardy in the morning to help me learn about the things with which I need help like geography and history. I try to mix things up to not get stuck in the old routines.
Do you think there is a connection between leadership and curiosity?
Definitely. I met quite a few billionaires on my show, and there’s a running thread that they are voracious readers because they’re curious about so many different things.
I spent some time with Naveen Jain. He likes to learn a whole new area he knows nothing about and figure it out from scratch and look at it with fresh eyes. He doesn’t like to come to an industry in which he already knows everything. He would prefer something completely different than anything he’s ever worked in before. Whenever I bring up the fact on my show, that I’m writing about curiosity, my guests become fascinated. I have not met a single successful person yet, who was not incredibly curious. They all think that they’re very curious and to that, they attribute a lot of their success.

Marcel Kuhn: How can you instill curiosity in your company culture?

Dr. Diane Hamilton: I think you need to go to the top whenever there’s any culture change. If the CEO doesn’t buy in, your culture is going to remain the same. Thus, the CEO must see value in curiosity. To find value in curiosity, consider the impact developing it can have on everything from innovation to engagement. Engagement numbers are weak. According to the Gallup engagement survey, more than two-thirds of the workplace don’t even want to be there. Part of the solution is providing feedback and aligning people properly. Improving curiosity is a big step.

I think a company needs to identify what the employees are curious about, even before they enter the company. People need to find out what they’re good at and get a baseline on their curiosity levels. Through open communication, you will find out what your employees are good at, and what they’d be interested in trying. Maybe they can do some other things that nobody has ever asked them to do. It is important to consider the impact that would have on productivity. Developing curiosity is foreseeably the next movement to enhance human performance.

Dr. Diane Hamilton:

One thought on “Cracking the Curiosity Code – An Interview with Dr. Diane Hamilton

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: