The Overlooked Power of Curiosity with TedX Speaker Cameron Brown

Episode #1
Oct 25, 2018
Episode 1 - Cameron Brown
How do you make dreams come true? On this episode of Agile Living, we are joined by Cameron Brown, the founder of Thriving Collective and a worldwide traveler. We dig in to uncover all about the importance of curiosity, dreaming big, and discovering different angles to make it all come to life! Tune in as Cameron points you to a challenging way of thinking, and gives valuable advice on how to achieve everything you’ve ever wanted.
“Curiosity is what opens you up to a sea of possibilities that you haven’t thought of yet.”
-Cameron Brown
2:52 - Why you need curiosity in your life
6:48 - How Cameron first started up his curiosity
9:57 - Why people aren’t getting the results they want
11:03 -The way to change your thinking to doing rather than wanting
14:20 - How to nurture your curiosity
18:49 - Having the curiosity of a child, and staying that way
25:22 - A piece of advice about how to rebuild that curiosity
Connect with Cameron:
Jon Voigt: Welcome to Agile Living, the Entrepreneur's Journey, the show dedicated to discovering how entrepreneurs and digital leaders are doing more with less. I'm Jon Voigt, your host, and CEO of Agility. And we're on a journey across the country to learn from top digital entrepreneurs on how to live a more agile, adaptable, and fulfilling life. Thank you for joining me today, and let's dive in.
Jon Voigt: Hi there. To celebrate the Agile Living podcast launch, I'm doing a massive giveaway, and giving three lucky winners a chance to win some of my favorite things I use frequently. The first step in being agile is your mindset. And these prizes all help you with that process. First, a box of Bulletproof InstaMix. These are high octane oils to fuel your day. I add it to my coffee or my tea almost daily. Second, a Fitbit Charge 3. I don't even have one of these yet and they're not even released. And they look pretty cool. It's coming out soon, and that'll be the second prize. Third, a microbiome test by Viome. This is a leading test in the US that tests your gut biology and tells you exactly the foods you should be eating. It's pretty cool stuff. I did it about a year ago and saw the results. And it was really amazing, the things I should and shouldn't be eating.
Jon Voigt: Please note, this contest will only be open to those in Canada and the US. I'm really sorry for anyone internationally. And to win, you have to do the following. Subscribe on iTunes to the show. Go to and enter your email so we have a way to contact you. And share the show with a friend who wants to start living a more agile lifestyle on Twitter or Facebook with the tag "be more agile." That's it. Pretty simple. Can't wait for you to hear some of the episodes. And hopefully you can start living a more agile life. Now, start living a more agile life.
Jon Voigt: Welcome to the Agile Living podcast. Find out how digital leaders across the country are doing more with less. I'm Jon Voigt, CEO of Agility. And we're on a quest across North America, interviewing entrepreneurs and digital leaders on how to live a more agile, flexible, and adaptable life. Today I have the guest Cameron Brown, founder of Thriving Collective. And I'll talk about the topic in a second. But, Cameron, maybe you'd like to just introduce yourself a little bit. Tell us what you're up to. And we'll jump into the topic and go from there.
Cameron Brown: Definitely, Jon. Great to be here. Cameron Brown. I'm originally from Australia, but living in North America now, running the company called the Thriving Collective as you mentioned. Absolutely love delivering keynotes, trainings, and coaching in the areas of high performance and innovation.
Jon Voigt: Awesome. We just met up recently in Denver, as I was coming through the city. And we were talking and having some tea. And we came up with a really cool topic around curiosity, and why you need it, and why you're falling behind if you don't have it. Maybe you'd like to just take a little time and tell us a little story about your background around this whole curiosity topic and why so many of us have lost it and what it really means.
Cameron Brown: Yeah. Definitely. It's really been a massive part of my life, especially the past few years, and realizing the importance of curiosity, and when we don't have it, how we're closing off from opportunities and the possibilities. A little story about the last couple of years ... About 20 months ago now, I sold everything that I owned and embarked on a global quest around the world. It was to really demonstrate the power that technology has to speed up and magnify our creativity, our innovation, and our impact in the world, and to really, really inspire people to challenge what's possible, to really get out of their own comfort zones and utilize their unique talents and strengths to make a greater impact in the world.
Cameron Brown: And I had no idea how big it was going to get. But what ended up being, it was there was more than a million people saw the videos. I became a National Geographic Explorer out of that. There was viral videos. I delivered the closing talk at Italy's largest TEDx event. There were just some pretty major things in addition to being interviewed within the media and multiple countries around the world, too. And it ended up being 10 countries, four continents. Remarkable, remarkable 18-month period ... And out of that, I look at what were the biggest lessons that I learned out of that. What were the biggest lessons that I learned along the way? How did they allow me to make an impact, and to inspire other people to do the same, and to grow what I see as faster than I've ever been able to before? And it came from having an understanding as to what I was wanting to experience as an outcome, and what I was wanting to feel as an outcome. And then being curious about how I might actually get there. And the reason why I find this is extremely important within business and within life ... But let's really focus in from a company point of view. Is that if you are simply going, "Well, this is the outcome that I'm wanting to achieve. And these are all the steps we're going to take to get there." And there's no other way that you're going to get there, you're closing off from the ways that you could do it better, faster, more agile, and allow you to get the outcome faster than you've ever been able to before. You're basing the current situation that you're being exposed to right now, basing it on your current limits that you have within yourself. Curiosity is what opens you up to a sea of possibilities that you haven't thought of yet. And that's why it's such an extremely powerful tool to use. But I would say, one of the most underutilized tools in business. Because, and you see within ... Employees are struggling to adapt to change.
Jon Voigt: Great. Yeah.
Cameron Brown: People don't like to adapt to change.
Jon Voigt: Yeah.
Cameron Brown: A lot of the studies out there that show that people really don't like adapting to change. The reason for that-
Jon Voigt: I know. They say they do, right? But they really don't.
Cameron Brown: Exactly. They like to adapt to the change that they want to adapt to, right?
Jon Voigt: Right. Or the end result of the change, not necessarily the journey to the change, where it's more difficult.
Cameron Brown: Exactly. Exactly. And there are all challenges that come up as a result of going through that change that you don't know is going to happen until you're exposed to it. And yes, you can be strategic in how you're adapting to the change along the way. But there are going to be things that come up along the way that you don't know are going to happen. Your ability to adapt to that is your ability to solve that. Your ability to solve that is your ability to move forward. And curiosity is a massive part of that, because, again, it opens you up to a sea of possibilities rather than closing down to what you already know.
Jon Voigt: Right, right. The interesting part is, you said you learned this along your journey. But you had to have some curiosity before you started your journey. Where did that come from?
Cameron Brown: Totally.
Jon Voigt: And is that something that, just all the sudden, you woke up one morning? Or was it something over the years? Some trick or some thing where you were like, I have to sit back and rebuild my curiosity? How did this come around?
Cameron Brown: Yeah. I mean, yes, it's been a number of factors over time, from childhood to then growing older, and then challenging myself as time's gone on. But one thing that, when you were mentioning that just now, one thing that came to my mind is ... I can't remember what year it was. Maybe it was four or five years ago. I was getting out of the shower one morning. And the thought popped into my mind of, "You're not dreaming big enough."
Jon Voigt: Right.
Cameron Brown: And I thought, "Huh. Okay. If I'm not dreaming big enough, I wonder what else is possible?"
Jon Voigt: Right.
Cameron Brown: 'Cause it wasn't ... I've mentioned this to a couple of people since. And they said, "Isn't that a bit detrimental to yourself?" Or, "Isn't that a bit disempowering?" I said, "No." Because if I'm not dreaming big enough, then that means that forever, I have this growth to go through.
Jon Voigt: Right. Okay.
Cameron Brown: And that's beautiful. Because all of the sudden, I'm never going to arrive. And I remember one of my mentors once saying, "The moment you think you've
arrived is the moment you're in for a very big fall." I love that, because that keeps you humble, right?
Jon Voigt: Yeah. For sure.
Cameron Brown: It keeps you knowing and understanding that you've never truly arrived. Yes, you can arrive at a certain destination. But then there's another destination to go to. It keeps the journey exciting. It keeps the journey going, as well, versus thinking that there's just going to be an endpoint, and finally, yes, finally I've gotten here. But it comes back to, well, enjoying the journey and loving the journey along the way, no matter what challenge or what thing you're being exposed to.
Cameron Brown: This has happened a number of times, now, since, where it's come up again. I'm not dreaming big enough, not dreaming big enough, not dreaming big enough. And that's ... If I'm not dreaming big enough, then the curiosity naturally flows on there, to go, well, if I'm not dreaming big enough, then what would it look like when I am dreaming big enough? And how could I make that happen? And what could I do now that would allow me to move forward in a way that I want to move forward in? And that's, then, led me to understand from a curiosity point of view some specifics about how to be more curious.
Jon Voigt: Right.
Cameron Brown: I think when we caught up a few weeks ago, we talked about this.
Jon Voigt: Yup.
Cameron Brown: About curious tonality, and curious language.
Jon Voigt: Yup.
Cameron Brown: This is ... Because curious language on its own can still be self-defeating.
Jon Voigt: Okay.
Cameron Brown: For example, "How am I going to solve this?" Notice, it's like there's a doubt in the tonality.
Jon Voigt: Right, right. A challenge.
Cameron Brown: Man. Yeah, it's like, I really don't know if I'm going to be able to solve this. Oh, man, how am I going to solve this? Versus, "Oh, how am I going to solve this?"
Jon Voigt: Right, right, You always have the energy, that excitement.
Cameron Brown: Exactly. It's a curious tonality rather than a self-defeating tonality. You can be saying exactly the same thing, and it takes you in an exact opposite direction from the tonality standpoint.
Jon Voigt: You almost need to ask what's possible. But you have to believe that anything's possible, kind of combine those two.
Cameron Brown: Exactly. Exactly. And this is where ... How questions are extremely, extremely important here ... How questions presuppose it can be done. All right? All of the sudden, you go, "All right. How are we going to make this happen?" You're exposed to a specific challenge, you go, "Right. How are we going to do this?" It presupposes it can be done. You've just got to work out how it's going to happen.
Jon Voigt: Yeah. Just fill in the blanks. Just like, you pick your destination and draw it out.
Cameron Brown: Yeah. And so all of the sudden, your mind will start thinking about ... Because it's already knows that it can be done, you've guided your mind in the direction of working out how it's going to be done.
Jon Voigt: Right. Right.
Cameron Brown: Versus ... Go on.
Jon Voigt: I just like the angle of how you're talking about this. Because over the last few years, or even more than that, everyone's like, affirmations and believe you can do it and you can do it. And that angle is like, just suck it up and pretend you can do it to try to get it done. But really, you have to have the curiosity to figure out how to do it as well.
Cameron Brown: Yeah.
Jon Voigt: And this is a different way of looking at a similar concept. But not so harsh in terms of, just go get it done. Just believe you can do it. It's more like, first believe you can do it. And then have some curiosity about how you're going to do it. And have fun on how you're going to do it. Know you can do it, but how can you get there? How can you journey there?
Cameron Brown: It's a great point to make. Because here's the thing: millions if not billions of people use affirmations. Why are some of them still not getting the results they want? Yeah? Why are they still not getting the results. And it's the same with technology, like utilizing social media. Why is it that some people are getting great results with the utilization of social media in a company format, while others still don't. They've got the tactics.
Jon Voigt: Yeah.
Cameron Brown: So what's going on there? There's stuff going on underneath the surface. And as you mention, if ... You can say all of the affirmations that you like, but if you don't believe it, it ain't coming true.
Jon Voigt: Yeah. That's for sure.
Cameron Brown: It's not going to happen, right?
Jon Voigt: For sure, yeah.
Cameron Brown: It's not going to happen. Where focus goes, energy flows. And wherever your focus is on ... You can be saying it 'til the cows come home, but if you don't truly believe it, then your focus is on not believing it. Your focus is on, "It doesn't work for me." Your focus is on, "It's not going to happen." Versus-
Jon Voigt: You're hoping it's going to happen, but not really believing it.
Cameron Brown: Yeah. And so you haven't bridged the gap. It's like going from, "I don't believe in myself," to, "Yes, I believe in myself." That's not an overnight thing.
Jon Voigt: Yeah.
Cameron Brown: That's not ... You can't just flick that switch. It's like if somebody's feeling really depressed or anxious, and negative about their experience right now, and someone comes up to you, and says, "Oh, just think positive."
Jon Voigt: Yeah.
Cameron Brown: You want to throttle them, right?
Jon Voigt: Yeah. Yeah. It has the opposite effect.
Cameron Brown: Well, thanks, Captain Obvious. It's a situation. You know that something needs to be different, but just thinking positive, that's too big jump.
Jon Voigt: Yeah.
Cameron Brown: What curiosity gives you is a bridging of that gap. Because rather than going, "This is what I'm going to do," It's "This is what I could do." You haven't had to make a commitment yet. While you've gone from thinking that maybe, I really can't solve this. Well, if I could, what would it look like? What could I do to solve this?
Jon Voigt: So taking out-
Cameron Brown: Not what am I going to do. Yeah. What could I do?
Jon Voigt: Taking out that commitment also takes a lot of stress off you so that you could actually freely just brainstorm or come up with ideas that are completely out there, completely strange, and be like, "Wow. This is ... I wouldn't have even thought of this. But let's think about it. Let's think about what may be possible." Have you found-
Cameron Brown: Curiosity is the gateway to creativity and innovation, right?
Jon Voigt: Right.
Cameron Brown: It's what allows you to open up to what you haven't understood, or haven't known yet. And, yeah, it's a great point. Absolutely.
Jon Voigt: Have you found a momentum in this thought process that you've embarked on? 'Cause obviously, you had some curiosity to start your trip. As your trip went on, more and more curiosity about where you'd go, what happened, who you met, all these things. And then, I'm assuming, it gets easier the more you try to be curious about something. And then maybe you try it and it works. Or maybe it doesn't work, but that's okay. Because you didn't set any big goals or big things. You just tried something curious. It didn't work, and you learned, which is awesome. Has it become easier?
Cameron Brown: Yes, yes, and yes.
Jon Voigt: Okay. Awesome, awesome.
Cameron Brown: The way I see it is that it's about nurturing your curiosity.
Jon Voigt: Okay.
Cameron Brown: All right. And as with anything from a nurturing point of view, as you nurture it, it grows. It grows in the ability. And the way that I see it as well as that, curiosity feeds on itself. Because, and you would have had this before, Jon, and those tuning in, I guarantee you've had this at some stage before. When you've thought of an idea, and maybe you're even in a team brainstorming session. And your idea then spawns another idea.
Jon Voigt: Yeah.
Cameron Brown: Now, whether that's with ... You could be by yourself and that happens. You say, "Oh. Well, I could do this. Oh, well if I did that, then I could do this as well." And all of a sudden, that latest idea would never have come to fruition or to the surface if that first idea hadn't been there in the first place. This happens with me within ... When I write music for the keynotes that I deliver, I have a grand piano on stage and have talks that I deliver where I have music involved in those. And when I try to write a song, I'm really bad at it.
Jon Voigt: Right.
Cameron Brown: But when I allow myself.
Jon Voigt: 'Cause the pressure-
Cameron Brown: The space-
Jon Voigt: The pressure's there.
Cameron Brown: Exactly. The pressure. And if I allow myself the space. And here's a thing. If I judged myself based on the first idea that came when a song was even flowing through me as well, it's rubbish.
Jon Voigt: Yeah. Right. Yeah.
Cameron Brown: It's really bad. It doesn't make sense. There's no form. There's nothing at all. It's just words that might not even be words. I'm just singing and not even making words. But then, all of the sudden, words start to form. It's through the starting and allowing yourself the space first, then guiding your curiosity and allowing yourself the space to do that, to be curious, that allows those new ideas to form. Because here's the thing. If you're needing to know exactly how it's going to go, that's the exact opposite of what curiosity is.
Jon Voigt: Right. Right.
Cameron Brown: If I need to know, I'm closing down to all the things that I already know. Because that's everything that I already know, which is inside of your comfort zone, by the way.
Jon Voigt: Yeah.
Cameron Brown: Curiosity, all of a sudden, imagine flipping that over, and going, "Well, I'm opening up now to a sea of possibilities. Which means, I'm opening up to everything that I don't know yet, everything that's outside of my comfort zone, everything that I haven't come to an understanding of yet." And that's where all the solutions lie to the current challenges you have. Otherwise, you would have solved the challenges that you have. If you already knew the answer, you would have solved it already.
Jon Voigt: Yeah.
Cameron Brown: So it makes sense to go into that sea of curiosity. Because that's where all of your answers and your new level of thinking lie. Yes, absolutely, it has become easier. And the other thing to mention, here, in terms of it becoming easier, is because it's the building of what I call reference points, about how something works. Whenever this sense of curiosity pays a dividend, a return on investment from this, is it becomes, "Well, huh. Okay. Well, that was possible. Oh, I wonder what else could be possible?" Those two words, "I wonder," I mention this in a talk that I gave in Rome, the TEDx tour. It was those two words, seemingly innocent words, "I wonder."
Jon Voigt: I wonder.
Cameron Brown: Are such powerful words to utilize. Because it becomes, "Oh, I wonder what else is possible. I wonder how I could achieve that. I wonder if this could actually be something that I could do this year versus next year, or the five years' time." "I wonder" opens you up to that sea of possibilities, and all of the sudden, you're being exposed to ideas, solutions, things that can help you get to where you want to go much, much faster than you have ever been able to before.
Jon Voigt: Right. Right. I love how you mentioned about comfort zone, too. I'm a huge believer that we are only growing when we're out of our comfort zone.
Cameron Brown: Totally.
Jon Voigt: When we're in that trained rhythm of day-to-day and things like that, we're doing stuff that we know how to do. We're doing the same thing over and over again. We're not really progressing like we could. We may feel like we are. But to really, really push, we have to be out of our comfort zone.
Cameron Brown: Yes.
Jon Voigt: And this whole curiosity thing just relates ... For me, right now, I have a two year old. And I talk to people about how they love to take that two year old to the museum, or go to the zoo, or whatever, and watch the curiosity. Because ... And the scaredness of that child. A certain situation or animal, at first they can be scared if they see a lion or something like that, right? But that's 'cause they're out of their comfort zone. They don't know the situation. And they're absorbing and learning so much. And they're so, so curious. And when people come to me and say, "I'm living my life through my child," or whatnot, I think it's because we miss that curiosity we used to have so much because it's freeing. But business and life is so structured. It's so ... You have to get this result, and you can't mess up or you're in trouble scenario shields us from going out of our comfort zone, from being curious, from trying new things. And it's really a shame. Because we've almost built this barrier around ourselves.
Cameron Brown: Yeah. Curiosity ... We are born curious.
Jon Voigt: Yeah. For sure.
Cameron Brown: You only have to look ... As you mentioned, you only have to look at your kids to see that that's the case. It gets beaten out of us in schools, in life, in business, as you mentioned. Think about it in school. The person who's asking all of the questions, what are they seen as? Annoying, going off track, getting off of the curriculum? They're ... It's a hindrance to the education system, people who ask questions. Same goes ... You have a kid bashing around on the pots and pans, say, "Stop doing that. Stop making all that noise."
Jon Voigt: Yeah.
Cameron Brown: And yet, they're curious at that moment.
Jon Voigt: They're learning. Yeah.
Cameron Brown: Oh. This noise makes this noise. This noise makes this noise. Understanding that we are born curious, it's about us finding that curiosity again to allow ourselves, again to open up to the sea of possibility. But the other thing that you mention there about growth and that growth happens outside of our comfort zones, it's totally accurate. Just think about this for a moment. Why is something comfortable? Because you know it.
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