[Photo taken by our old friend Freddie Reed]

'In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert's there are few.' 
Shunryu Suzuki


There are many cliched hashtags in the start up world. But this has to be right up there as one of the most consistently bandied around.

But where there’s smoke there’s fire. And as they say, all cliches are cliches for a reason. 

A review done of CEOs from the top 100 globally performing companies showed they all had one thing in common. It wasn’t talent. It wasn’t charisma. It wasn’t strategic thinking. It wasn’t even a flash sports car or membership to a fancy club. Though many of them may have those things. 

The one common denominator was...intellectual curiosity. 

This is amazing news if, like myself, you consider yourself a bit of a thickie. 

Because curiosity isn’t what you’re born with. 

It’s the endeavour to listen, learn and understand more. 

And that’s a choice we can all make. 

So without further ado, I’m going to take a wee look at two individuals who have curiosity in spades: Yvon Chouinard (Patagonia) and David Hiaett (Hiut Denim). If you read my last blog you’ll now believe me about my crush on the latter. 

Yvon Chouinard

Uncurious people do not lead examined lives;  they cannot see causes that lie deeper than the surface.” YC

With absolutely no formal business education, Yvon Chouinard has created a billion-dollar global company from scratch. 

The only formal training he has actually received was back in 1957 when he learned how to blacksmith just so he could create his own climbing equipment.

Ever since then, the self-proclaimed “dirtbag” kept pursuing learning, and his business exploded as a result. 

 He “never fancied himself a businessman” and talks about how much he hates balance sheets (I can’t say I love them myself - but I’d certainly prefer them if mine looked like Patagonia's).

But he made an effort throughout his life to read plenty of business books that kept his little climbing equipment business afloat.  

And now he has written his own business book 'Let My People Go Surfing', which has turned into one of the cult classics. And Patagonia serves as an inspiration for millions world wide on how business can play a central role in protecting the planet. 

Nice work Yvon. 


David Hiaett

David left school at 16 and was laughed at when he said he wanted to be an 'entrepreneur'. 

Here is an excerpt taken from one of this talks, referring to his first job at the advertising agency Sachi and Sachi.

I couldn’t spell.

I didn’t know what a colon (:) was. 

I thought you had to go to hospital to get something removed. 

But I went home every night and I read how other people wrote ads. 

And I learnt. 

Because I didn’t want to eat beans on toast anymore. 


I’ve learnt how to sell.

I’ve learnt how to tell stories. 

I wasn’t very good {in my first job} at Sachi and Sachi at first. 

But I learnt. 

And I went home at night and I learnt. 

And I couldn’t spell and I didn’t know what things were, but I learnt. 

And I kept on learning. 

While others with much more talent than me stopped. 

I believe in the under dog. 

I believe in the guy who doesn’t think he’s got much talent so he carries on working. 

Those last four lines are absolutely killer. 

You can watch the full talk here (40mins). 

My usual struggle with this is the age old classic - a lack of time. 

How am I ever going to find the time for learning? To read those marketing and copywriting books stacked up on my book shelf?

Well, the dreaded ‘C’ word (rhymes with Miley Cyrus) has left us with a little extra time on our hands for the next, say, 3-6 months. 

So if not now, then when?

And personally speaking, there’s only so many more ‘Premier League Years’ repeats I can watch before I go barking mad. 

So stay well. 

Oh, and of course, #staycurious.