I love to watch “Jeopardy.” I remember my grandparents watching it together almost every evening, competing against each other and the onscreen contestants from their recliners. I was always amazed at how they seemed to know almost every answer.
I would ask my mother how they knew so much, and she explained that they each had highly inquisitive personalities; that they were voracious readers who wanted to understand the “how” and the “why” as much as the “what.”
I have tried to incorporate that same level of curiosity into my daily work as a communications professional. In addition to the reading I must do to keep abreast of developments in my clients' industries, I also make time to read about things outside of my normal daily routine. I also try to use everyday conversations as a chance to gain more knowledge and understand more about the broader world around me.
Some useful tools for the curious reader include:
• FluentNews and other online aggregators bring a broad variety of news sources together in one place.
• @longreads on Twitter compiles links to interesting current and past long-form journalism from a wide spectrum of sources.
• GoodReads lets you monitor what books your friends and colleagues are reading.
In a world that increasingly consists of 140-character bursts, I have always found that having this broad knowledge base enhances my effectiveness as a trusted advisor. Understanding the connection between issues and actions has always added incredible value to client consultations. Being able to draw from a wide variety of situations enhances your perception as a wise counselor and helps clients see connections where they might not have before. Expanding the conversation also fosters a more thoughtful and comprehensive process when it comes to creating solutions.
Fostering this sense of intellectual curiosity is particularly critical for young people who are just starting out in the communications industry. In the coming years, there is only going to be more interconnection among people, industries, issues and geographies. Senior leaders must encourage team members to have a voracious appetite for knowledge as wisdom becomes the stock of our trade. Advisors who can bring that broadly informed perspective to the table will offer better insight to clients and build long-term partnerships that last.
They will also make formidable “Jeopardy” contestants.