How To: Life Fulfill­ment

Four Tips from Hollywood Producer Brian Grazer

Have you ever talked to a stranger about their hobby, job or political standpoint for twenty minutes or so? If you haven’t, try it, it could well be a good idea. According to Brian Grazer, producer of Hollywood movies like “A Beautiful Mind”, “Apollo 13” and “The Da Vinci Code”, talking to strangers is one of his most important sources of inspiration. What’s important, is to listen carefully and ask lots of questions. He describes just how it works in his book “A Curious Mind – The Secret to a Bigger Life”. But where on earth did he, a successful movie producer, get the idea for writing a book about curiosity? There’s nothing mysterious about it – for him, curiosity is the key to success and happiness. Just follow these four tips from Brian Grazer and enrich your life with curiosity:

1. Curiosity as Encouragement

You don’t have to be a Steve Jobs or a Steven Spielberg to be creative, innovative, inventive, or convincing. It’s enough to keep your curiosity. “It doesn't matter who you are, it doesn't matter what your job is, or what your passion is. Curiosity works the same way for all of us – if we use it well.”, says Brian Grazer. But you also need a helping of courage. Brian Grazer also thanks his curiosity for the first job he had – which was also the door-opener to his career in Hollywood. While looking for a summer job before getting back to university, he overheard two students talking outside his window. One was telling the other that he had just left his job as a legal assistant at Warner Bros. Grazer grabbed the phone, got the number of Warner Bros., rang them, and asked for Peter Knecht, the guy the other student had worked for. Next day, he had an interview with Knecht at three in the afternoon and, at three-fifteen, Brian Grazer had the job. His job: to deliver contracts to various different business partners for signing – these included influential producers, directors and actors. To reap the maximum from this relatively simple task, Grazer got approval from his boss to deliver the contracts in person. This brought him quite a number of important contacts that would be very useful right at the beginning of his career. He never got around to studying law.

  Two men sitting at a coffee shop table talking to each other   Two men sitting at a coffee shop table talking to each other

2. Curiosity as a Motivator

The way Brian Grazer sees it, “Instead of spelling out the word H-O-L-L-Y-W-O-O-D in the famous sign in the Hollywood Hills, they could have spelled out: N-O-N-O-N-O-N-O!” As he says, Hollywood is the land of no. Although this reaction was above all devastating for Glazer at first, it today fuels his determination to fight for his ideas. When he presents the storyline of a movie to a potential investor, and hears a no from the outset, he tries to find out the reasons behind this particular no. So this is one of the ways Grazer uses his curiosity as a motivator.

3. Curiosity as Inspiration

“We are all trapped in our own way of thinking, trapped in our own way of relating to people. We get so used to seeing the world our way that we come to think that the world is the way we see it.”, says Grazer. And this is exactly why it’s important to take a completely different angle on things every once in a while. Grazer carries this through in his so-called “Curiosity Conversations”. Grazer talks to all sorts of people from all walks of life – physicists, doctors, models, authors, attorneys or police officers. This is his method for finding out all about their personalities and how they see the world. Alongside of this, he keeps himself informed about what’s currently at the top of the agenda in the worlds of science, music, and popular culture. His experiences then often circulate back into the movies he produces and ensure that the characters portrayed are as authentic as possible. But switching your point of view every once in a while is not only important in the movie business. If a doctor wants to correctly recognize a patient’s needs, he must be able to put himself in the position of the person at the other end of the stethoscope. The more successful he is at this, the greater the chance of being able to help.

4. Curiosity as a Motor

Curiosity is what makes us yearn to discover how the plot will unravel in the next pages and chapters of a good book. It’s what stops us turning off the radio when someone is telling an interesting story. It is also what keeps us up all night trawling the Internet for information about something we previously knew little or nothing about. It is the yearning to learn something new. The thirst for knowledge – knowledge that, in the long-term, will enable us to perfect our abilities in some area or another. This could be some field of science, the arts, or technology: to people who are driven by curiosity, success and perfection come automatically in things they are passionate about.

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