NPR’s Guy Raz Explains Why Curiosity Is Better Than Intelligence
-I’m so excited to meet you because I don’t
really know your face, but I know your voice.
-Yes, this is what I look like. -You look fantastic.
It’s great. -Yes. -You kind of look what I thought
you would look like. -You look what I —
the same — same. -Yeah.
-I did not imagine. -Well, I mean, you see me. For those of you who don’t know
“How I Built This,” can you explain
what the show is for people? -Yeah, so, on one level,
it’s a business show. It’s about, you know,
how these amazing people created businesses,
but at a deeper level, it’s about who you were when
nobody would take your call. Like, who was Howard Schultz when he had to like sell
coffee filters door to door? -And then he became Starbucks.
-Yeah. And like people were like,
“And you are?” “Howard Schultz.”
“Okay. And you need…?” Right?
-Yeah. -And then at the deepest level, it’s a show about, “Who were you
at your most vulnerable?” You know, when you were
on the bathroom floor, lying in the fetal position,
crying, because you weren’t gonna make payroll or
your business was gonna collapse or you didn’t know
what was gonna happen. So it’s kind of — I describe it as a show
about vulnerability, but we kind of use business
as a prism through which to tell
the stories. -It’s fascinating just to hear. Everyone’s got a great story,
I think. And so what I love
about your interviews, ’cause you get right in there. What I seem to —
Sometimes I go, “I don’t know if this
is gonna be interesting,” and it is
the most fascinating story. Everyone’s got a great thing. And then, I realize
that you have two other shows that I didn’t even know about,
“TED Talk” — -“TED Radio Hour.” -“TED Radio Hour”
and “Wow in the World.” -It’s a kids show, yep.
Kids science show. -You’re the first person ever —
Do you know this? — to have three shows
in the top 20 podcasts on Apple. Congratulations.
[ Cheers and applause ] Not bad.
Not bad. So I almost feel weird
interviewing you because I want to know,
how did you build this? -I, uh — yeah. So, I mean, you know, it really
came out of “TED Radio Hour” — sort of a side project
that I was interested in doing. And, you know,
I grew up in a home where my parents
were entrepreneurs. They quit their safe jobs
in their 40s, and they started
a small business. They started a jewelry store,
and there was a lot of, you know, tension in doing that,
right? There was — They didn’t know
if they were gonna succeed. They didn’t know if they could
provide for their kids. And when I start
to reflect on that as an adult and begin to sort of
remember those moments of the cold calling
and the door-to-door sales and kind of the ups and downs
that they went through, I thought, “We should do this
on a big scale,” because these stories
are so dramatic. You know?
-Yeah. -Stories of building businesses are full of failure
and triumph and success. They’re heroes’ journeys. -That’s what I like
about your interviews because everyone fails.
Like, royally fails. -Yes. Yes. -You’d think like,
“Howard Schultz — Starbucks. Everything worked.
It was easy, right? -Yeah.
-Right, you just do it. Dude, it’s unbelievable. They go, “I didn’t even know
if I could pay anyone tomorrow.” And now the company
is worth millions. -I mean, Stoneyfield Yogurt
is a great example. For 10 years,
Gary Hirshberg failed and then failed again,
then failed again. Like, the cows didn’t make milk
or the farm collapsed or they couldn’t pay the rent or
the delivery truck broke down, or nobody was buying the yogurt. And he kept going
back to his investors and saying,
“Give me one more chance.” One more chance, and it was like
near-death experience after near-death experience. Today it’s hundreds of millions
of dollars, and the company
does sales around the world. It’s an amazing story. -How did you know that you’d be
good with talking to these CEOs? I mean from TED, or…?
-I didn’t. I mean, I think it’s —
a lot of it is that, They want
to share their stories. You know?
They want — And I think that they feel — And what I always say to them
in the interviews is, “I want you to surrender.”
You know? “I want you to come into this
with a spirit of generosity and to really talk about
your ups but also your downs, because success after success
isn’t that interesting. -Yeah. -You hear about someone’s
success over and over again, that’s not what we want to hear. We want to hear
about your failure, because that’s
where we can learn from you. -Yeah, and most of these
giant companies too, a lot of the interviews
that I hear, it gets giant, and then kind of
gets away from them. Sometimes, like, they’ll
sell off to a major label or a major thing.
-Bobbi Brown. -Bobbi Brown
was a great interview. -Yeah.
-She sold to Estée Lauder and just kind of —
She’s not there anymore. -She’s not there anymore. Or Kate Spade
was a great example of that. -Yes.
-Kate Spade, I remember — You know, tragically, obviously,
sadly before she died, we had an amazing interview
with Kate Spade and her husband, Andy. And, you know,
imagine being Kate Spade and going all around the world and seeing your name emblazoned
on shops all around the world. She couldn’t, by the way,
use her name. She was not allowed
to use her name. -Sold her name so that — -She essentially
sold her name, yeah. -The stories are just —
They’re endless. -They’re full of drama, right?
-Yes. What you have learned?
Is there one thing — I mean, you must have learned
so many things from all these smart people. Is there any advice
that sticks — that you can give us all? -I think about Jim Koch. He’s the guy who founded
Sam Adams beer. -Yes.
-Boston Beer Company, right? Amazing, amazing story, right? He had this safe job
at Boston Consulting Group in his mid 30s,
he had a wife and two kids, and he decided to quit,
and he decided because he thought to himself, you know, “If I stay here,
it’s going to be dangerous. If I leave, it’s scary, but if I stay,
it will be dangerous. Because one day,
I am gonna wake up, and I’m gonna say,
‘Why didn’t I take that risk? Why didn’t I try this thing?’ And I don’t want to regret it.” And the danger of regret
is greater than the fear of actually taking the leap
and trying it. -Wow.
That’s exactly right. You said something, too. You said curiosity is actually
better than intelligence. -Yeah.
I mean, I think that a lot of the people on the show,
they’re not the most educated. They didn’t go
to Ivy League schools. Some of them are dropouts. Some of them
didn’t do well, academically. But the thing
they all share is curiosity. You know?
And I find that, time and again, that when people go into a room and they’re just open
to new ideas and new ways of thinking
and open to taking in all kinds of perspectives, those are the people
who succeed. It’s not the people
who have the book smarts. -Yeah. Do you think now you know
an idea is a good idea or not? Are you an expert on this? Do people come to
with you ideas all the time? -Yes, and I am so —
I am so bad at it. -I have a lot of —
[ Laughter ] -Yeah.
-I have a lot of great ideas. I mean —
-Well, I actually — I actually think that High Hands
is an amazing idea. [ Light laughter ] -Yeah.
I’m a genius for that. Yeah, absolutely.
-That is an amazing idea. -Yeah, thank you.
Yeah. -Do you know about High Hands?
-Well, it’s — It’s actually called Hands High.
-Sorry, Hands High. -But it doesn’t matter.
-Sorry. [ Laughter ] -That’s one of my failures. -But amazing, right?
Sports apparel that — -Yeah, I invented a sweatshirt. Because I go, “What do you do
when your team is winning or scores?”
You go — Freeze. Why not put a logo
in the armpit? -Right?
[ Laughter ] -That’s prime real estate. -But that’s —
-Hands High! Whoo! -Right? Because you recognized
a gap in the market. The fashion industry
wasn’t using this space. -Yes. Sports apparel has not changed
for how many years? It’s so boring.
Same shirt, same hats. Same everything.
-Yes, yes. -This is brand-new.
Let’s bring back the wave! -Right?
-Let’s reinvent the wave. Everyone should — Can we do the wave
right now for Guy? Let’s start on this side
over here. Let’s start.
Ready? 1, 2, 3, go! [ Cheers and applause ] ♪♪ Guy Raz, everybody! Check out his podcast,
“How I Built This” with Guy Raz!