Make Them Curious

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Updated November 3, 2022

You’re reading an excerpt of Creative Doing, by Herbert Lui. 75 practical techniques to unlock creative potential in your work, hobby, or next career. Purchase now for instant, lifetime access to the book.

If people had the attention span to sit for a few hours with your work, then certainly it would speak for itself. But, they don’t. Still, if they were curious to learn more, or knew how to help you, they would. If you experience a reluctance, hesitation, or fear of telling people about your work, it’s even a greater reason to try. The more reluctant you are to talk about your work, the more potential you’re blocking up.

Derek Sivers writes in Your Music, Your People, that when people ask you about your work, giving a boring answer is rude. I wouldn’t go that far, though I would agree that even just a minute of preparation could help. Sivers writes, “Before the conference, come up with one interesting sentence that says what you do—including a curious bit that will make them ask a follow-up question.” He gives the example of, instead of saying “I’m a bassist,” introducing yourself as “Bassist of the Crunchy Frogs—the worst punk bluegrass band ever. We’re headlining the showcase tonight. Our singer is a pirate.”

If I were talking about my book, for example, I wouldn’t say, “I’m an author,” I’d say something like, “I’m the author of Creative Doing, a book that debunks the biggest lie in creative thinking. It has 75 prompts to make the reader more creative. It’s the only book with a shape as a mascot.”

Or flip this prompt: Lose Yourself

Sell Out

Some people are like, ‘Oh, yeah, just sell out and do pop music.’ So you !@#$ing do it, then! It’s not easy.Abel Tesfaye, The Weeknd*

When Will Smith decided he wanted to become the biggest movie star in the world, he worked with his business partner James Lassiter to examine a list of the ten top-grossing movies of all time. In his memoir Will, he writes, “It was crystal clear: Ten out of the top ten films of all time had special effects. Nine out of ten had special effects and creatures. Eight out of ten had special effects, creatures, and a romantic storyline. (We would ultimately discover that all of the top ten movies were about love, but we didn’t notice that back then.)”

When Smith was approached with a $10 million offer to star in 8 Heads in a Duffel Bag, the analysis made it clearer that Lassiter and Smith should say no. And when Smith was approached to appear in Six Degrees of Separation, he and Lassiter said yes to a much smaller offer of $300,000—and set the foundation for Smith’s career as a movie star.

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