• emmanuelsevrin

My meeting with Derek Sivers

I met Derek Sivers last Sunday. 

He started CDBaby, grew it, and successfully sold it for a few millions. He then gave 3 Ted Talks, each on original topics. His two podcast interviews with Tim Ferris are quite fascinating. I vividly remember listening to one four years ago while on my way to the German Alps. I was living in Munich at the time, and feeling quite down about my options for the future, and I still remember the sense of wonder and opportunities that this podcast created in me. 

I think Derek is unique because 1) he relentlessly explore alternative points of view, and 2) he gets deep into topics (any of them). He told us he often writes from 7am to midnight, something which feels surhuman to the twitter-addicted me. I would argue those two points made him quite successful in life. 

But that’s not what struck me most. 

What surprised - and delighted me - was that Derek had prepared questions for me. Me, the simple peasant who didn’t found a company nor appeared in podcasts.

Thoughtful questions about my career choices ("why go and work for the UN?"), and some of my journeys ("what’s your experience between France and the US?”). Those questions obviously made me feel special and interesting. They enhanced the quality of the conversation - making it a dynamic, two way interaction. 

It was another reminder of the power of curiosity. Curiosity can often turn a great many situations around. It's the questions you ask to the angry customer that calms him down. The questions you ask your partner that defuses the conflict and made them feel listen to. The questions that will yield many insights you haven’t thought of.

It’s often easier said than done, obviously. When you’ve explored a topic already a hundredth time, you often just want to escape it to new horizons. "Please, let’s not talk about Trump again - anything but why people voted for Trump

What I learned that evening was that good curiosity requires intelligence and intent. It's an acquired skill. Derek prepared his questions in advance. He may have done that because he’s a slow thinker, but I think it’s mostly because curiosity is a purposeful choice. We don't feel like exercising but still go to the gym, because the effort will warm our minds up. We don’t feel like writing, but the first sentence written get our juices going. Etc, etc. Using our intelligence towards curiosity changes our relationship to things. 

That's what I'm taking away that night.

What about you? Have you worked on your curiosity ? Why or why not? 

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