Career and Business Lessons from Curious George

I recently attended a company offsite where my fellow executives and I took a hard look at our rapidly growing business. Often, growth can blind companies to latent problems that subsequently arise at the worst possible time. Good management teams regularly go offsite to step back, wake up, work together, fix problems, and plan ahead.

Though our team covered the requisite corporate planning, strategy, metrics, etc., it was the discussion of corporate culture that snagged us. Though we had great products, happy customers, and a well-regarded brand, it was our people – and more specifically our culture– that tied it all together. Yes, we all knew culture was important, but we also understood that many companies took it for granted and gave it nothing more than lip service, or worse, its own web page under “corporate values.”

We then began a dissection of what made our corporate culture work. Sure, we found important attributes such as intelligence, work ethic, and expertise, but one stood out, miles above the rest: curiosity. All of our employees had it – in spades.

Curious GeorgeThey were:

  • Curious about our customers
  • Curious about our market
  • Curious about our products
  • Curious about our competitors
  • Curious about each other
  • Curious about nearly everything

Now I was curious about “curious.” I decided to go through a pile of resumes that I had rejected; I was searching for curiosity. I realized that a majority echoed a significant lack of curiosity. Wow. I went further and looked at employees whom I’ve let go over the years. Same thing: a majority just weren’t curious about things. Hmmm. I then reflected on my personal life and found that my best (and most interesting) friends all had insatiable curiosity.

My thoughts then turned to Curious George, the incessantly inquisitive monkey from the eponymous book series that many of us either read or read to our children. Though Curious George frequently caused a kerkuffle when his probing nature went too far, he always ended up better off and happy.

There’s a valuable lesson here:

When you’re curious, you’re helping to change the world. Your successful career is a positive byproduct.

Profound? Perhaps. Now I’m just curious why I didn’t figure this out earlier…

Rob Ciampa


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