Curious Joe

white earphones on a blue background. Paper with question marks

Green Day. Linkin Park. Black Eyed Peas. Red Hot Chili Peppers. Miley Cyrus. Eminem. And even Barbra Streisand…in sheet music.

These are the answers to a question recently posed to a group of clients I work with weekly.

“What’s the first music you bought for yourself with your money?”

And here’s the most interesting part to my very informal survey over the course of a week  no one asked me what my first music purchase was, acquired with my hard-earned money.  Insert frowny face here.  

When I first began asking this question at the beginning of the weekly workshop series, it was really meant as an icebreaker.  Something different than subject-matter-related questions.  I figured someone within the first few responses would blurt out and ask me.  At the end of the first day I realized this was worthy of an experiment.  By the end of a week, it was, sadly, what I expected.  You see, I am constantly harping on sales professionals to be more curious. To watch, listen, and feel their counterpoint’s emotions; to not be in such a rush, in such a hurry to get to something they feel is more important instead of focusing on their prospect, their client.  

What am I doing wrong? One of my biggest go-to beliefs, the crux of good coaching, is not getting through y’all!!!!

To make matters worse, I asked my wife the same question, and she too passed on the opportunity to be curious with me.  34 years of marriage to me.  Ugh.  Is there just nothing left to learn?!

And so it goes, the story is this, apparently being curious is only natural to the ubiquitous house cat.  For the rest of us, this is actually really hard.  To not think about ourselves is fighting seriously ancient hardwiring in our brains.  We are always concerned about ourselves.  It’s our security system.  No matter how nuanced we are with our agenda, our brain translates it to: Fight, Flee, or Freeze.  Our agenda?  It can be anything.  For the sales professional, it’s commissions, points, bonuses, spiffs, rankings, and promotions.  All examples of currency.

We may even intentionally block curiosity with a little thing called judgment.  This gem keeps us safe and warm, protecting our belief systems and our current place in the world.  Judgment helps keep others from surprising us.  Our narrative is intact when we have the answers mapped out about us and everyone else we come in contact with at any given moment.    

Fear is also a curiosity killer.  Being anxious or afraid to ask someone something “personal” is a serious roadblock to learning more about anyone or anything.  It’s been stated that fear and curiosity cannot exist at the same time.  Think about that the next time you have a near miss while driving!

Here are a few things to be curious about when connecting to curiosity –

  1. Stop:  As in “stop being in your head and on your agenda.”  Though it is hard stuff for us, when you can limit the conversation in your head, the opportunities to be curious open.
  2. Listen:  For the words that keep being repeated in a conversation with another human.  If you hear a particular word or phrase used more than once, you have to go there.  Ask a direct question about it, and then wait and listen to what comes up.  “You’ve used the word ‘challenged’ several times, what specifically is challenging?”
  3. Look: How is someone behaving beyond the words they’re using?  Body language is 30-35% of any conversation.  What is their body language saying to you?  Essentially, what’s being said that’s not being said? Extra credit if you are aware of your body language too.

There are many other views on being curious.  A quick .37 second search came up with over 1.4T (as in trillion) hits on the term ‘being curious.’  Professionally this is coming up in places I didn’t expect.  We are curious about being better at this as a society!  I am going to have to dig further…

Oh, and by the way, this Hippo bought the album (remember those?) Rocks by Aerosmith.  What 15-year-old could resist Steven Tyler belting out Back in the Saddle?  Just ask me.  


“Hello curious human.  If you’ve made it this far, then curiosity and awareness are two of your superpowers. Do you have the COURAGE to go to the next level?  Consider the wild idea of investing in you! New programs are available! Why wait any longer?!?  Here’s a link to start creating that discussion right now!

join the pod
Subscribe to get SPH in your inbox and be notified about new podcasts, webinars, events and more.
Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.


Posted in


  1. Dena Chadwick on September 26, 2023 at 6:58 am

    Great read, Joe. Loverboy by Loverboy

  2. Joe Schum on September 27, 2023 at 8:02 am

    “Lovin’ Every Minute of this Dena!”

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Be big. Be cool. Be hippo.

Ready to get started?

hippo surfacing