Dr. Diane Hamilton | Forbes MBA Chair, Improving Culture and Unlocking Performance with Curiosity

John Corcoran  4:24  

Right? And I guess the kind of the flip side of that is boredom, right? And we have a lot of people that you know, typically are bored or unengaged in the work place. And, you know, I guess the answer to that is giving them that spark of creativity and an interest that keeps them engaged?

Dr. Diane Hamilton  4:44  

Well, I think a lot of people take jobs, and they’re just jobs, you know, they’re not really passionate about what they what they’re doing to begin with, because nobody really asked themselves things that you know what I’d like this or what I not like that. Because they you just kind of make assumptions in their mind. And they they have this voice that think that either talks them into being fearful of looking into something else, or they’ve been around people who have made them feel like they couldn’t do something else. So they kind of just settle. And now with technology taking over so many jobs, and all levels of jobs, not just lower level, jobs will be replaced. And people will kind of have to think about what they want to do next sometimes. And it wouldn’t be nice to do something that you really are passionate about. And to do that if you ask questions and explore different things, you’re more likely to align yourself better. Right

John Corcoran  5:42  

now, how do you build this type of culture, especially within companies, especially within a larger company, where you have this kind of regimentation where people fit into particular roles? And they may have to work on tasks that are more mundane? Or is the problem there that they’re just in the wrong role. And you need to get people into the right roles. But but more more broadly, you know, how do you build that kind of culture that encourages curiosity, and allows people in their roles within organization to explore natural curiosity?

Dr. Diane Hamilton  6:20  

Well, you answer, you’ve asked a couple good questions there. Sorry.

Unknown Speaker  6:24  

I like that. And compound question.

Dr. Diane Hamilton  6:27  

It is see if I remember both of them. But the first one was, to me, the mundane kind of tasks. Before I get into the culture, I want to address that, because what’s mundane to some people could be really challenging or interesting, or something, somebody else. And so perception plays a big part. And other than curiosity, emotional intelligence, I write about perception. Because I’m fascinated by that. I, as I mentioned, I’ve taught thousands of business courses. I mean, it’s just a ton. I, the amount, of course, that I’ve taught is just staggering. And I had a friend who likes you is a recovering lawyer. And she thought, well, maybe she’d like to teach one of these courses. And so she got a job at one of the schools for which I teach. And she was talking and talking about it, I said, Oh, you’re so great. You’re gonna love it. So this, you know, whatever. She taught one class was maybe eight students in the class, and I was teaching at the time, I think, eight classes, and then each class had like 25 students, and I was on vacation doing it. And it wasn’t no big deal. If she calls me I remember, it was like six o’clock in Hawaii, when she called me. And she goes, I can’t believe you like this, she’s This is the worst, most tedious day

John Corcoran  7:42  

about how much you hated

Dr. Diane Hamilton  7:42  

it, and should never do it again. And I always thought of that we were a lot of like, in some ways, you know what I mean, but there’s a to me, I like certain things that other people might see, as Dane. So I think some of it is our perception of what is and what isn’t mundane. Some of it is that’s a bad fit for her where it’s a good fit for me. And so you need to ask those kind of questions. Do you like doing these kinds of things? Do you like doing what you know, and maybe you don’t even know until you try it? You know, she didn’t know she wasn’t gonna like that he she had to explore it a little bit. And I’m just surprised she didn’t like it. So I mean, what we think people are going to like, sometimes we there takes a little bit of exploration. And so to get to the culture, how to build a great culture, of course, comes from the top. And if the leaders don’t buy in, you know, you know, this can be really tough, tough road, because I have to have buy in from the top. But you know, that leaders have to be willing to be vulnerable, and say, I don’t know everything. And they have to walk the walk and show that they’re curious and explore areas and ask questions and do all the things they’re trying to get others to do. I mean, I train people to, you know, with my curiosity code index assessment, and when I do that, part of it is to showing people you know, how to overcome their own issues with curiosity, but it’s also helping them create a report based on everybody’s input of to give back to leadership, so that leaders have a whole blueprint from the horse’s mouth about how they would like to be, help it helpful in creating a culture that improves, you know, innovation, engagement, all the top issues that leaders are facing, and it’s kind of like what Disney did with their laundry division when they went to them and ask them, How can we make your job better? Just by asking that question, they improve to turn over dramatically. And it doesn’t take a lot to find out things you just have to ask. And that’s what I think a lot of people they fear asking, they just never have. And the same issues just go on and on. Because they don’t address them. So it starts from at the top, walking the walk and asking the questions.

John Corcoran  9:58  

Right. You know what I think I feel like just speaking personally, perhaps I feel like I’m a little too curious. Like, I’m interested in too many areas, perhaps why that’s why I’m drawn to interviews like you are. And maybe that actually is the way that I’ve satisfied that element of myself. My my natural curiosity. But can you be too curious? Can you have too many interests? And can that be a damaging thing?

Dr. Diane Hamilton  10:23  

Well, I mean, if you just get so curious about what’s on level 27 of game, yeah. There’s just depends on what you focus, if you have, you know, you have to have goals and have it specific and you know, that type of curiosity that’s really just determined to end with something productive. But if you’re just meandering around, and just randomly checking things that’s a little bit different. So we’re not talking about that. We’re talking about goal oriented, curiosity. But if you know, you talk about having a podcast is an outlet. And I really see it that way for me, too, because it’s kind of like your own mastermind group that you get a picture who you want to learn from. And there’s nothing better than you get to ask all the questions that you’d want to know, from the people who you’d want to know. And it’s in everybody wins. Because people like me who I books or whatever, you know, it’s nice to be on your show. But when people are my show they have whatever it is they have. And so everybody wins. And so that’s why I think that that’s a great thing. But it’s a natural exploration, and everybody teaches you something from every single show. And I think I’ve interviewed, like 800 people in the last couple years and every single show, I’ve learned something, I absolutely,

John Corcoran  11:44  

totally agree. Yeah, you have interviewed billionaires, you’ve interviewed Nobel Prize winners, some really successful people. What are they? What have you learned out of the ways that did they utilize and harness curiosity?

Dr. Diane Hamilton  12:04  

Well, I, you know, I was thinking about that when I, the reason I wrote the book was just comparing the people I interviewed to some of the people I taught and the differences and levels of what people would explore and, and their levels of curiosity. And I started to see that, that a lot of those people on my show, were highly curious. And a lot of my students sometimes would say, well, they just wanted you to figure it out for him and just tell them how to do it. They didn’t really want to explore it. So I started to write a book about curiosity, just because I was inspired by all these people. And I thought, well, let’s figure out how to make people more curious. But then halfway through the book, I realized books not enough to do it, I had to create an assessment to determine the factors that keep people from being curious, because if you could do figure out what’s stopping you, then you can move forward. So I got those ideas from a lot of people on the show, you mentioned that, you know, I interviewed billionaires, and actually I had a billionaire. Write the foreword of my book, Keith croc is one of the most amazing guys, he’s Undersecretary in Washington now. But at the time, he was the CEO, and chairman of DocuSign. And he’s one of the most curious guys and I what I liked about him and why I wanted it to him to to write the foreword. Was he just such a humble guy who does you know, who has the right not to be at this point, probably based on everything he’s done. And yet he’s he just keeps exploring and learning. And I think that, you know, I’ve interviewed so many billionaires, and I think that that’s one of the threads that I see in all of them from Ken Fisher to Craig Craig’s List, new mark to you know, just anybody who you talked to Navin, Jane, all of them explore different areas, I went to dinner with Navin and I remember, he just wants to learn every area he possibly can and just reinvent it and then learn the next area and he likes it if he doesn’t know anything about the industry or, or whatever, just to start from scratch, you just never stopped reading. So I guess I learned so much from all of them read a ton. I mean, I don’t know how they find the time to read what what they read, but they all have this desire to learn more. And they and somebody like Keith just surrounds himself with people think you keys like the most unbelievable networker it because everybody loves him. And they’ll do anything for him. And he and I’m on his board of advisors and everybody on it, if you look up that list, it’s just a who’s who, of CEOs at all the top companies and, and they all want to help him and he admits he doesn’t know everything. And he you know what he doesn’t know, this guy might know. And then he networks people together. And I think that that’s a really amazing quality.

John Corcoran  14:42  

It is, yeah, you’re an amazing networker. Just looking at the list of the people you’ve connected with. And you have steve forbes is one of the people was quoted in your book and burn harness the founder of VO and, you know, how have you connected with these different types of bold name individuals well known individuals?

Dr. Diane Hamilton  15:02  

Well, a lot of it It started somewhat when I was the program chair for the MBA program at Forbes school business. I got to meet Steve and Ken Fisher and john Tammany and rich Carl guard, they had a great board of advisory group there. And

John Corcoran  15:17  

how did you even get into that, because you probably didn’t know probably wasn’t an entry level job.

Dr. Diane Hamilton  15:22  

Well, I was always an associate professor for a lot of universities, I think I was working at 10 universities at one time. And then I ended up working as an assistant professor there. And then that led to the program, Chair job eventually. And so and part of that I worked in their speaker program, and there, you know, Anna, and I spoke for Forbes when I was there. So you know, as I brought speakers in, I met a lot of the Forbes 30 under 30s, which, you know, those guys are just amazing. And gals, they’re just so interesting. And new, a lot of them. And actually, when I started my radio show, I went to a lot of those people. And you know, they knew me from that. And so they were willing to be on the show. And then once you get steve forbes on your show, which I had worked with him there and he was so nice, you know that that lends a lot of credence. And actually the very first person I ever interviewed was billionaire Ken Fisher. And

John Corcoran  16:20  

yeah, very first person ever. People don’t start with a billionaire.

Dr. Diane Hamilton  16:23  

I don’t know what I was thinking. And actually, I get to see him in about a month. And I’m really looking forward to it. He’s he was coming in to speak just for one of our events. And I asked my boss, the guy I was working with, it wasn’t actually my boss, but it was above me and in rank. And I said, Could you care if I interview? I’m kind of curious. Just you know, I don’t know what would make me think to do that. Because I’ve never interviewed anybody. I just wanted to know more than what he was going to say on his talk. And he said, Sure, if he says okay, and he said, we went and picked him up at his private jet and, and I guess ride in the car with him before we actually did the interview. And I could tell I was gonna love interview. And he’s got a real dry sense of humor and, and I sort of met him through Board of advisor meetings that I attended. And he came in through video on those. And so we could see each other, but we never really were in the same room with each other until then. And so he knew who I was. And I knew he was just from that. But that was it. I never really talked to him. And we talked for about 10 minutes in the car, right? And then all of a sudden the camera was on. And it was really quite an interesting. first conversation. And I was kind of wondering if she was going to eat me alive doing this because I’d watch some of his interviews, you know, because he’s kind of really cute wit and sense of humor. And I had no idea where it was going to go. And he was kind of funny. I think he started the beginning teasing me that he hadn’t even started the profanity yet, and I was like, Oh, where’s he going with that? But it was a really, you know, I figure if you can handle kingfishers, your first interview? Yeah, it all goes, you know, easier after that.

John Corcoran  17:57  

Right, right. Well, you know, we’re big fans of podcasting, and doing interviews, period, I’ve probably done over 1000 interviews for different purposes, whether it’s for articles, right, for videos for for podcasts, what is it that you like about interviewing all the people that you’ve interviewed and continuing to do it,

Dr. Diane Hamilton  18:18  

I just let you know, as one of them was, you know, that you learn something from everybody, I just get such an interesting stories. And everything I learned from my podcasts I can use in my writing of my books, and everything I learned in my podcast, I could use them teaching other classes, I still teach so many different classes. And it just everything overlaps. When you give a talk, you go, you know, I had this woman from Africa, and she had to cross the river, you know, to get her education, and you know, even just learn these stories that are just so fascinating. And it just all, you’re always learning something and sharing something. I mean, basically, that’s what I do. I learned and I share or learn and I share and it all overlaps.

John Corcoran  18:59  

Right? So, you know, our economy is rapidly evolving, technology is changing. We were talking beforehand. And you’ve got two daughters, both of whom who’ve worked in tech. What is the role of curiosity, going forward with the changes that are happening?

Dr. Diane Hamilton  19:19  

For my daughters, or

John Corcoran  19:23  

I meant for us for just for, for workers, for companies to keep people engaged to to leverage our natural curiosity and engage to work?

Dr. Diane Hamilton  19:36  

Well, you know, I’m glad you brought up technology. Because when I studied curiosity, there were four factors that keep people from being curious, and their fear assumptions, technology and environment. And we’ve talked about, you know, I think fear is pretty obvious, you know, and, but technology sometimes isn’t as obvious of what we mean by that. And I think people either under utilized are over utilize technology. Sometimes you just ask your echo the question, and then you don’t even have to find out the reasoning behind it. And you don’t get the foundations. And I mean, think about when you’ve crashed a computer in the past, and you fix your computer, you think of what you learn, I mean,

John Corcoran  20:20  

painful, but yeah,

Dr. Diane Hamilton  20:22  

but you really, you’re, you’ve got Oh, ok. So I mean, in the day, we had to get into our auto exec, bat, fat, you know, files and all this stuff. And if you knew foundations behind things, you understood why the computer crash, maybe you understood different elements. And sometimes we’re missing some of those foundational bits and pieces that technology just does, it’s almost like you never learn math, and you just rely on a calculator, if you kind of need to know the math, you know, so that you could do other things. Because if you’re, maybe you’re really good at math, and you’ll be the person to use math or something else. So it’s, I want to make sure that we don’t over utilize it. But I want to make sure we don’t under utilize it as well, because there’s so much that we can learn from it. And I think that sometimes, people at work, I think you could use like low tech days and high tech days, and we’ll use the low tech days, you know, where we just learned to discover things and meaning behind things. And then high tech days, what can we use this tech to do?

John Corcoran  21:26  

Right, right, exactly. And then, you know, the, I think you mentioned it. The fourth one kind of roadblock is social pressure pressures, and kind of the environment in which we were grew up and either our families and friends, maybe they inadvertently, you know, put ideas in our heads or prevented us from exploring curiosity, tell us a little bit about that. Talk a little about that?

Dr. Diane Hamilton  21:49  

Well, our environment is a huge factor, at least for me, it was a very big influencer of everything. I mean, when I was raised, I, my family was very much into sports. If you weren’t into sports, will nothing you know, nothing else really mattered. That was all you all you should be interested in, you know, hundred percent. And so I never cared that much about sports. So I always felt kind of, like, there’s something off, you know what I mean? Like I was missing something. And I think that a lot of people have, they go along with their friends, they have bosses who have discouraged something, or encourage something or, you know, it could be a positive influence. But a lot of times, there’s a lot of negative influences. Now we have social media, which ties into technology, you know, if we don’t want to not be light, we don’t want somebody to think, oh, that’s not cool. Okay. So I can’t be interested in that, because I didn’t get enough likes for that. And so it continues to be a big issue of how much we let our environment impact us. And I think that we have to recognize how it has impacted us. And what what subjects would I have studied had I not been forced to go to all of those sporting events or not, I mean, because it’s just the kind of thing that people sometimes will go one direction or another. And I noticed in my family people either completely became obsessed with sports, or they just don’t want to look at it at all, because it was just too much. You know, and I think that you’re, you’re around certain things. And if people don’t naturally go for this certain topic, you’re you’re, you have to notice what your kids natural inclinations are. I mean, I have a daughter that can speak five languages, I can’t speak English, right? So she’s speaking, she got a degree in Portuguese, and she can just, you know, do all that naturally. And my other daughter couldn’t care less about that. It’s just not her thing. And so we all have our natural desire to learn certain things. And if you see something in somebody, you know, it’s so important that you nurture it instead of trying to talk them out of it.

John Corcoran  23:56  

Right. And and you wrote in the book that you saw it, exposing your kids to challenging experiences to kind of cultivate their curiosity. And I’m curious, because I’m a parent, I got four kids now, what are some ways that parents can do that and cultivate their curiosity?

Dr. Diane Hamilton  24:13  

Well, you know, as much as I’m said, I got crazy about sports, I made sure my kids tried sports to see if they like, you know, sometimes, it’s easy to just only show your kids the things that you like, and I tried not to do that, especially I’m a such a picky eater, that I used to make food that I didn’t like, and then kind of drop it in my lap when they weren’t working. So that, you know, they would try things, and things I would not like. And so I did the same thing with just about everything I, I made sure that they they were exposed to, to all kinds of from dance, to bowling to whatever it is to see if they were interested in different ideas. And and I made sure that they were able to take a lot of classes. And if they didn’t like it, I didn’t force it on them. You know, and I think a lot of people get forced into certain things. But if they liked it, then we explored that.

John Corcoran  25:00  

Right, right. That’s good advice. Well, I want to we’re running out of time to wrap things up with the final question. I always enjoy asking which, let’s pretend we’re at an awards banquet, much like the Oscars and the Emmys. And you Diane have just been awarded a Award for Lifetime Achievement for everything you’ve done up until this point and tell me who do you think who are the relationships that have been instrumental to your success in career so far, the colleagues, the friends, the mentors, who do you think?

Dr. Diane Hamilton  25:25  

You know, that’s such a hard question, because there’s so many people, but I think that one of the main people I really thanked and this is my fourth book, and I finally thanked him is I dedicated this book to my seventh and eighth grade algebra teacher, believe it or not, he and I spent so much time together, it was in today’s society, you wouldn’t be able to do that it’d be kind of weird to spend so much time with the teacher, but he was such a wonderful mentor to me. He, he just showed me that something is, could be dry as algebra was, he made very fun and exciting. And he wanted to learn more about it. And he a lot of the things he taught me was, you know, just to explore different areas and not and not shut down to things he he would make. He would say things that made me think, like, when he wish, Oh, I wish it was summer. You know, kids always say that. You could say, well, you’re wishing your life away. And I’m thinking, really, I never thought of it. I mean, it’s a little things. And you just make you think in these unique ways. So I think teachers have a really big impact every once in a while. My parents, of course, had a great impact. My father was a super multitasker. So I think I inherited that he was always interested in having he would read the paper while the TV was on while a book on tape was on while he I mean he had four or five different things going into his brain at the same time. And I tend to do that even though they say not to. But that’s just the way I think, because I am so there’s just everybody you come into contact with gives you just a little bit more, and I’ve had such great relationships with everybody. In my past I’ve been really fortunate.

John Corcoran  27:05  

Great. So cracking the Curiosity code. The key to unlocking human potential is the name of the fourth book, Dr. Diane Hamilton calm or curiosity code calm are the websites anywhere else that people should go to learn more about you?

Dr. Diane Hamilton  27:19  

Well, if they go to curiosity, code calm, they can become certified to give the Curiosity code index, and if they’re a consultant, or an HR professional, professional, if they’re interested in giving it they can get five hours of Sherm recertification credit and become, you know, a CCI certified trainer. And so that’s all there. But basically, if you go to my sites and social media, I’m at Dr. Diane Hamilton everywhere.

John Corcoran  27:42  

Excellent. And your radio show can be heard all over the country. I know on your LinkedIn page, you’ve got some of those stations listed there. So people want to check that out. They can go there as well. Yes, yes. Thank you. It was a pleasure, Dr. Hamilton. Thanks so much.

Dr. Diane Hamilton  27:55  

Oh, thank you.