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Guest opinion: A culture of curiosity


By Susan Hatten | Chief operating officer, BrokerTech Ventures

As I was listening recently to a leadership session put on by Simon Sinek, he used the term “curious” when describing his theory on “The Infinite Game.”

For those unfamiliar, an infinite game mentality is predicated upon the fact that if you intend on remaining relevant and excelling (professionally and personally), you must adopt a long-game mindset. The magic of this thought process is that we get to choose how we play in this game called life. I jotted down the word “curious” in my notebook as I continued to listen in, making a point that I wanted to bring this forward as what I believe to be one of the most valuable strengths we may behold as professionals.

I vividly recall as a first grader being called out by our teacher for coloring outside the lines of what was given to us in a “paint by numbers” jungle image. In a sense, I was being critiqued for being curious, for challenging the status quo, and for thinking creatively about how this generic and mundane jungle image might become more energetic. Make no mistake, moments such as this stand to leave tracks on your impressionable psyche and inherent thoughts around creativity and curiosity, for years to come.

Fast-forward 30-ish years, and I am now realizing more than ever the power of curiosity in the professional sense. What has often been deemed as a childlike behavior now reflects a desire to grow, learn and to create. It means allowing yourself to be bold yet vulnerable, to ask questions, and to research, explore and unearth findings. As my father would often quote, when seeing me in our picture window reading through our hard copy Encyclopedia Britannica collection: “Inquiring minds want to know …”

I found the subject of curiosity quite timely in the recent SpaceX Crew Dragon and NASA’s team launch to the moon. Can you imagine if no one had ever vocalized their curiosity into space exploration and what our galaxy may behold beyond planet Earth? Also noted: NASA’s Mars Exploration Program is also branded “Curiosity,” which was not lost on me in writing this piece.

Inevitably, I firmly believe there is value in curiosity as one of the key advantages we and our companies have in playing with an infinite game mindset. At the very heartbeat of innovation and entrepreneurship is that of the curious soul.

How can we promote a culture of curiosity within our own workplace, homes, boards and community? I challenge each of us to allow yourself to embrace the spirit of a child to be more curious, inquisitive, brave and bold.

And, above all — never, ever be afraid to color outside the lines.

Susan Hatten is chief operating officer of BrokerTech Ventures and oversees corporate and community engagement at Holmes Murphy. She dedicates much time to community involvement through fundraising and volunteering for several organizations. She is immediate past president of the Variety – The Children’s Charity of Iowa and serves on the ChildServe board of trustees and on the United Way of Central Iowa Tocqueville Society. Susan is active Holmes Murphy’s Women Optimizing Women (WOW), Lead Like A Lady, and Million Women Mentors. Hatten was named the 2017 Meredith Corp. Emerging Business Woman of the Year and a member of the 2011 Forty Under 40 class by the Business Record, dmJuice Young Professional of the Year, Variety’s International Ambassador in 2012 and the Downtown Des Moines Chamber of Commerce Ambassador of the Year in 2012, among others. Hatten is a graduate of Iowa State University. Contact her via email.

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