The Most Essential Skill to Spark Creativity

Jae C.

Brian Grazer is a successful movie and TV producer. Even if you don’t know his name, you probably know his hair. It’s iconic. Probably more iconic than Grazer himself. He wears it tall and spiky, and he’s been wearing it that way for years. Can you picture him now?

Grazer and his business partner and long-standing friend, director and former actor, Ron Howard, have garnered award after award for films like, Splash, Apollo 13, and A Beautiful Mind, as well as television shows, like 24 and Friday Night Lights. Their success in the movie and television industry is unparalleled.

While Grazer could chalk his success up to his amazing intelligence or savvy business sense, he goes a different way. He attributes it to what I think is the single the most essential skill for sparking creativity and innovative thinking.


In fact, it’s the title of his book: A Curious Mind. When it comes to curiosity, Grazer writes:

For a trait with so much potential power, curiosity itself seems uncomplicated. Psychologists define curiosity as ‘wanting to know.’ . . . Curiosity starts out as an impulse, an urge, but it pops out into the world as something more active, more searching: a question.

Benefits of Curiosity

For Grazer, curiosity is at the core of who he is and how he operates in the world. It’s informed the projects he’s chosen, who he’s chosen to create them with, and how he’s decided to position them.

Grazer believes that this desire to know has allowed him to do the things that have been the key to his success:

  • Take risks he wouldn’t otherwise have taken
  • Persist on projects he would otherwise have given up on
  • Connect with people he may never have met or spoken to
  • Gain new insights into familiar situations or ideas
  • Increase his confidence in pitching ideas or projects
  • Be okay knowing less than those around him

Ways to Cultivate Curiosity

Grazer is naturally curious. He can’t remember a time when he wasn’t asking questions. And it’s what he’s built his life around. He even schedules what he calls Curiosity Conversations, something he’s been doing for years. He seeks out artists, scientists, political leaders, and other incredible thinkers and doers, and he schedules time to meet with and learn from them.

While we may not have the time or the ability to schedule time with the world’s best thinkers, there are ways we can cultivate curiosity. And it can be as easy as asking questions about something we want to know, listening to the answers, and then acting on them.

It’s when we act that we’re engaged in creativity and innovation. But without the questions, without the curiosity, the possibilities for new insights can never begin.

What are you curious about?