Want to be interesting? Try being interested.
Friday night in your Argentinean bar of choice is, I feel, the best
time for hard-hitting discussion and thought-provoking insight. Which
is why I am to be found most Friday nights in such establishments. Last
Friday with one of the editors of this fine publication, we were
discussing interests and, as much as Id like to claim this insight my
own, I cannot.
Scott and I were pontificating on levels and ranges of interest in
the various things around us. It occurred to him sitting there talking
that the more one was generally (and genuinely) interested in, the
larger the percentage of the population you could likely have an
engaging conversation with, the more common ground you could find, and
the further you could extend the patterns of behaviour you recognised
across the world you knew.
Lets use an example: take two people, both of whom would say they
were interested in fashion. One however is interested in fashion merely
as an end product, something created solely to make them feel good
about themselves and hopefully desired by the opposite sex. The other
takes an interest in fashion both in terms of what it does for them,
but what it does for others.
The conversation about the clothes a person wears only extends to
that moment, to the outfit which is noticed and commented on. The
conversation about others involves the designer (say Chistopher Bailey
at Burberry), their own path to where they are (working under Tom Ford
at Gucci), the campaigns around the revitalisation of that brand (Kate
Moss), how it ties in to classic British fashion and the campaigns hark
back to great David Bailey photographs of British icons. It extends to
the quintessentially British elements of fashion, the things unique to
that most unique of isles.
And now were on to David Bailey and photography. Or other
quintessentially British things. Or Tom Fords new line of clothing. Or
the revitalisation of mens wear and how much other designers can claim
responsibility like Hedi Slimanes tenure at Dior. Or the role that
luxury has to play and how it is marketed in a world where it seems
everyone want to have a conversation, and so much of luxury is about
being inaccessible. Or Class-A substances and whether there is any
truth to the ubiquity of cocaine being partially responsible for the
decline in street value in England, brought about by a ceaseless
fascination with Kate, her former boyfriend Pete an the antics spread
across the tabloid papers.
None of those are massive leaps to make, but the conversation
doesnt get there if your interest only goes as far as what clothes do
for you. The thinking can be applied to any field or any subject, and
it stems not from any robust concoction of intelligence, merely a
curiosity in the world around you. It broadens the scope of potential
conversations and increases the opportunity to finds common ground, to
make a connection. It will make you a better marketer and a better
sales person. More importantly, it will make you a better human being.
Of course the above could just be the rambling of a madman, so for
vindication, I turn the one of the maddest:
I am neither especially clever nor especially gifted. I am only very, very curious. Albert Einstein
For those needing a boost to their curiosity, try turning the TV off this evening and indulging in www.ted.com; youll be amazed at what you find.