Podcast: Unleashing curiosity with Simon Banks

On our podcast, we spoke with Simon Banks, an international keynote speaker, author and podcaster on creativity, innovation and design, where we explored the subject of curiosity and how we can develop and harness its potential.

On our podcast, we were joined by Simon Banks, an international keynote speaker and author, podcaster on creativity, innovation and design and a recovering professional artist. We explored the subject of curiosity and how we can develop and harness its potential. We talked about what curiosity is, realizing its benefits, and how we can be more creative. We discussed the role of curiosity in market research, and what happens when a brand or company establishes a culture of curiosity and creativity. 

Curiosity is defined as ‘interest leading to inquiry,’ while creativity is defined as ‘bringing forth something that wasn’t there before.’ Simon shares that “creativity and curiosity are twins that belong together,” because they drive the world forward, help us solve some of the big challenges we have, and also to lead a more interesting life. Yet he says, “it’s very easy to lose our capacity for and appreciation of curiosity.” And this can be a danger for our creative self, as curiosity tends to come first. 

We can harness the benefits of curiosity when we use ‘traveler's eyes,’ which is always looking at the world as if it was the first time we were seeing it. Simon shares, “when we travel, we notice everything. We make the effort to open our eyes (and generally put down our phone) and look at the world around us.” In our daily life we often ignore the inspiration around us. If we look up, instead of down, we can discover new things. The ability to look at the world with wonder feeds the curiosity part of your brain.  

So how can we become more creative? Most of us are creative problem solvers all day long. Simon shares a quote from Cate Blanchett: “We have to be prepared to do something that we’re going to suck at the first time we do it.” And this is why most people will not try something new in the creative space. Creativity is a muscle, and there are multiple ways to work it out. We all have multiple creative intelligences, we just need to find that thing that gets us into ‘flow.’

In the market research industry, quantitative researchers may interpret data based on curiosity. They look for the messages under the data – what might be missing? Qualitative data is all about curiosity. It might be helpful to be curious about how to frame questions. Simon shares, “our curiosity, and our ability to keep asking why – they call it ‘root cause analysis’ – I think that’s at the heart of great research.” This is also the ability to dig deeper and get to the bottom of things. 

So, what happens when a brand or company establishes a culture of curiosity? When a client comes to you with a problem, Simons shares that you can say: “We don’t know the answer, but with our curiosity we’re going to be able to figure it out and find a solution.” With the confidence to ask why, and also knowing that you’re supported by your team, you can connect with your customer in a more robust way. You can get in a loop of sharing ideas and openness.

Simon concludes by saying, “we’re all creative people, but what we lack is confidence.” The key phrase here is: “I don’t know the answer, but I can find it.” At your company, you can help by providing a safe place where people can share ideas. You find the answers you want by being confident. It’s better to ask questions now than to regret it later. 

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