Podcast 965: Radical Curiosity: Questioning Commonly Held Beliefs to Imagine Flourishing Futures with Seth Goldenberg

This podcast features Seth Goldenberg. He is a designer, activist, curator, and entrepreneur and he is also the author of new book Radical Curiosity: Questioning Commonly Held Beliefs to Imagine Flourishing Futures.

Seth is also the founder and CEO of Epic Decade, a design studio propelling cultural change. He harnesses the power of questioning to catalyze innovation and cultural change. Blending diverse practices of philosophy, experience design, storytelling, and public engagement, he’s developed a signature inquiry-based methodology that challenges commonly held beliefs to imagine flourishing futures.

Moreover, on August 23rd, 2022, in collaboration with Crown at Penguin Random House, he published his first book entitled Radical Curiosity, which articulates his strategic framework as a practice for individuals, businesses, and communities to thrive during a time of significant reinvention. In this book, Seth argues that because we value knowing above learning and prioritize doing over thinking, curiosity has become an endangered species.

If you’re interested and want to know more about what Seth does, you may click here to visit his company website.

I hope you learn and enjoy from my engaging interview with Seth Goldenberg. Happy listening!

THE BOOK

With this empowering book, Seth introduces the practice of Radical Curiosity through the lens of seven narratives that are going through significant transformation: Learning, Cohesion, Time, Youth, Aliveness, Nature, and Value. Along the way, he unpacks principles intended to spark our own questioning, including:

• Education is too big to fail, but maybe it should.
• Time travel isn’t reserved for DeLoreans.
• Let us now praise rural communities.
• Survival economics have made imagination a luxury good.

THE AUTHOR

Seth Goldenberg is a designer, activist, curator, and entrepreneur who harnesses the power of questioning to catalyze innovation and cultural change. Blending diverse practices of philosophy, experience design, storytelling, and public engagement, he’s developed a signature inquiry-based methodology that challenges commonly held beliefs to imagine flourishing futures. On August 23rd, 2022, in collaboration with Crown at Penguin Random House, he will publish his first book Radical Curiosity, which articulates his strategic framework as a practice for individuals, businesses, and communities to thrive during a time of significant reinvention.

 

You may also refer to the transcripts below for the full transciption (not edited) of the interview.

Greg Voisen
Welcome back to Inside Personal Growth. This is Greg Voisen and the host of Inside Personal Growth. Hey, and Seth, all my listeners know me they just don't know you. Joining me is Seth Goldenberg. And Seth has a brand new book out literally like two days ago called Radical curiosity, the questioning, commonly held beliefs to imagine flourishing futures. I will, right off the bat tell people get this book, we're gonna have a link to Amazon. This is really well written, well designed, well thought out. And Seth is the guy you're going to want to listen to today. And Seth, I'm going to take a minute to tell my listeners a tad bit about you. Because they know all they need to know about me, but they don't know what they need to know about you yet. And then when they're done with this interview, they're going to race out and get a copy of your book. So Seth is the founder and CEO of curiosity and company a purpose driven design, business and Innovation Studio propelling cultural change, formerly known as epic decade, curiosity and company has tackled a series of high profile projects to solve some of the most ambitious economic public health and environmental challenges with Fortune 500 clients such as Apple American Express and PepsiCo, leading nonprofit organizations and regional governments curiosity and company also hosts ideas salons, custom designed exclusive retreat and conference attended by Nobel Prize winners, senators and executives from companies. Well, that's enough about you. The reality is, he's a thinker. He's a thought leader, and he's a doer. And I appreciate that about authors who are out there doing it. And he is, and one way to do it is to write a book so that everybody can pay attention to the message. And I think that's really important. Seth, if you would tell the listeners about how you came to write radical curiosity. Everybody's heard curiosity. They just haven't heard the word radical and trying to get probably, why do you believe that curiosity is on the verge of extinction with was you quote, a devastating consequences. And what I love about this, folks, just for those listening, Seth is going to get you to think if there's one thing that's happened is I think people have gone on to automatic pilot about thinking, right, and their critical thinking skills. So if there's any one person that could re infuse their critical thinking skills, it's going to be sad. So how did you write this? Why did you write it? And why do you believe we're on the verge of extinction with devastating, devastating consequences?

Seth Goldenberg
Well, what an introduction, I love your energy, it's so wonderful to be able to visit with you. So thank you for that. I love that we're diving right into the juiciest one first,

Greg Voisen
so that your family and your kids and your dogs gonna show up. So then we get

Seth Goldenberg
so? Well, I think to answer your first question, you know, I have had a design studio for just over a decade. And I've been a practitioner of design thinking and all kinds of strategic cultural change, kind of work for almost 25 years now. And for me, radical curiosity was my opportunity to codify a new blended practice that we realize every day in our studio. So radical curiosity isn't just an idea to actually what we're calling the operating system of my creativity studio. And that term, dear point, that special word radical, it really comes from the Latin root of Rata callous, right, which really means getting to the roots of things. And I think what we've really come to realize my team, and I have biologists and educators and anthropologists a very interdisciplinary kind of ensemble. But we've come to realize that what we really help leaders and organizations and individuals work on is what are the deep assumptions that are causing the models for how we live, learn, work, play and sustain ourselves? And are those legacy models real? Can we up end them? Can we redesign them? If we want a world that is more flourishing? We probably have to ask questions, that curiosity part, but not just passive questions, questions that really get to the roots of things and that's really what the book is all about.

Greg Voisen
Well, what I like about the book is it's somebody always told me want to write a good book, whisper in their ear, the message they want to hear. In other words, like a good friend, I felt like this book was a good friend, it was actually speaking to something that I resonate with. So I wanted to read more and understand more. Plus, the way it's laid out and designed, is superior. So you open the book with a story about Steve Jobs and his friend Johnny IV. Hope I got that right. In an op in New York, Wall Street Journal article as being the most curious person he'd ever known. Seth, how is it that you define the radical career? acity? And what is it about Steve Jobs that made him so radically curious? I agree with his with his buddy. But I also know there's other thinkers out there that have been radically curious beyond Steve Jobs as well. And you might want to mention a few of those in the answer to this as well. Yeah.

Seth Goldenberg
No, I love that. Yeah. I mean, one of the pleasures of my life was working intimately with some of the executives at Apple, it was actually one of our first clients when I formed my company. And as a designer, Apple is like, the demigod Apple is, you know, Mount Olympus, right? Yeah. Johnny Ive is, has really shaped the design field, Johnny was and will always have a legacy as the Chief Design Officer, who really forged a very special kind of friendship with Steve and the two of them really built much of apple and of course, major figures, like Tim have been extraordinarily influenced influential along the way. But I think that the creativity that Johnny I've and Steve Jobs shared, why open there, as you know, when we put Steve on a kind of pedestal, so many of us, right, he's such an iconic figure. And I think there's still probably not a great nuanced understanding of what made him so special. I mean, even with the Walter Isaacson book on him, and etc. right?

Greg Voisen
Exposing things that you maybe didn't want to hear about him. But

Seth Goldenberg
exactly. I mean, he's your man. He's, he's complex and godly.

Greg Voisen
Exactly. All right.

Seth Goldenberg
But I think but I think that why open with that I love to Gianni is also a very private person. And I thought it was very beautiful. And, and I think she, I think he reveals an intimacy about naming curiosity as his view of what made Steve so special. And so even though there's biographers, and there's journalists, and there's people are one, two to seven, Kevin Bacon steps away from Steve, to have Gianni such an intimate friendship say, what made him special was his curiosity. And he describes it in that passage as a ferocious inquiry into life. Yes. And that for me, I think, to your point, that's not just a Steve thing. Many leaders have that we all may have that inside of us. And so I just thought it was a wonderful way to save sure Apple is a trillion dollar company, we all hold their products in our pockets. But you know, isn't it amazing that the most intimate friend named wasn't his business savvy. It wasn't the trillion dollar impact that we all kind of feel overwhelmingly brand idolatry for, but it was his curiosity that made him a great leader.

Greg Voisen
Yeah, you know, and reflecting as you're speaking of that, Steve Jobs, you know, I also reflect that what came up for me was Walt Disney. You know, and as a young lad, I think I was six or seven, I actually got to meet him. I shook his hand. You know, you know, the curiosity the man had in the in the fervor for life and, and to experiment and to not be afraid of risk and to go do the things that need to be done. When you talk about curiosity. It's like it's there, tons of curiosity. You know, you've hosted 3000 idea salons across the country over the last 10 years. And you engage your clients to leverage questions and rewrite legacy, as you say, narratives that no longer serve them. And, you know, I'm almost kind of looking at him as our bias to Right. It's like we have been ingrained with these bias. I always remember Margaret Wheatley used to speak about the ecosystems that we would live in, and the effects that we've had on him. What have you learned about reinvigorating the power of human inquiry into life and being able to kind of sustain it, because, you know, a salon is a salon, you're there for a day or two days, or three days, whatever the retreat is, you leave. And then I'm like, well, how do I sustain this energy? And then insert it into my company, into my people into my world into my design into anything? And the reality is, it's like, how, how do I imbibe this? You know, I take like, let's drink it, let's just give me that. And I think that is the million dollar question, isn't it?

Seth Goldenberg
Right? Yeah, absolutely. I love your gesture. It's so wonderful, you know, I look, and I'm not sure there's a silver bullet, you know, I loved your description of the book, in terms of, you know, a whispering, you know, into the ear, right, that kind of seduction of it all. I mean, I think living a life of inquiry, embracing curiosity as a lifestyle. I mean, that is the ultimate, lifelong project. It's not a day or two or three of the retreat. But it's also not a single project, where it doesn't show up in one part of your life and not another. I mean, I think it's really a mental model of how we show up to ourselves, how we show up for our people, how we want to contribute to the world, I think, for me, like I began as an artist, I was the oil painter quite young, exhibiting in art galleries, and I evolved into design, I am now an entrepreneur, I like to build businesses, almost like I see those as new canvases, new works of art. But I think being curious is about that same kind of Steve Jobs kind of insatiable, right? I'm constantly hungry. And I loved your mention of Walt Disney. You know, there's a great quote, he says, we’re curious, we keep opening new doors,

Greg Voisen
imagination. Absolutely. I would, I don't want to interrupt you. But I do this podcast show almost 16 years. I always wonder, the impetus. And I had a little Jewish mother. That was the most curious person in the whole world. You could sit down with her, anybody she didn't know. And 20 minutes later, she knew everything about you. So good. So I keep thinking to myself that maybe my culture has inspired you know, this what you talk about in grading this in your DNA. I was kind of ingrained with it. I had a mother that no matter who I brought over, she had 27,000 questions before they left. You know, even I was with I had that same mother. Honest to God. I went to the other day, and I'm not dropping names here. But grant Benning was the guy that first hired me, his daughter is Annette Benning. He's 96. I went to his house the other day and brought him lunch, because he's not real ambulatory. So I brought him lunch. And he sat there and he says, I remember your mother was like, what? He said, do you remember that your mother had to interview me first before you took the job. And I was like, yeah, she had all kinds of questions, didn't she? Seriously, he says Your mother was the only mother that ever I ever got interviewed by before anyone was hired.

Seth Goldenberg
Well, I love that as an example, right? I mean, whether it's the kind of artists sensibility or there's something imprinted in the Jewish cultural mindset, I think there's lots of reasons that questions and curiosity guide different kinds of traditions, right?

Greg Voisen
Yeah. Yeah. Well, you know, you speak that we're in this cultural in how do you say it? I n t er, e g, u n u m?

Seth Goldenberg
Yeah. It's this concept that we're living in an interregnum, like cultural Regnum.

Greg Voisen
I wanted to make sure I got the right word, right, which is in transition between fundamentally different states sets of value catalyzing an evolution in shared framework of the human experience. That's a mouthful, but it's really pretty simple and then When I say this, that we will question the legacy narratives that in turn the norms, beliefs, and mindsets that we inherited from preceding generations, speak with us with the wood about these five pillars of radical curiosity and the shifts, that we can make it our consciousness and worldview, because at the heart of this, at the true heart is really questioning the current worldviews and our beliefs and our perspectives, which is why the book is so intriguing to me and will be to everybody who buys it. Because you can actually start questioning your questions.

Seth Goldenberg
Indeed, then, well, maybe it'd be helpful maybe just to even frame up what is this interregnum idea? First things that might be most useful? I mean, to your point, it does sound like a mouthful. But actually think of society as a like your own personal laptop, and we install a new OS system we're putting on Yosemite, we're installing Yosemite or whatever the new OS system is, can you doesn't matter? Yeah. Whenever your computer shuts down at re wires, the code, the code, our guiding principles for how the computer operates? Correct. I believe that our nation, our society, our world, is kind of going through an OS upgrade. I agree. And the interregnum is an idea that tries to describe that. So traditionally, an interregnum is almost like a baton pass between governments, right? one party to another party, one leader to another leader. It's the space between two elections. Let's say, that's a traditional interregnum. But I've kind of consumed I propose this new term, what if not government, but what if culture is going through that baton pass? Right? And the reason I bring this up? And I think it relates to your question is, look, so many basic human experiences are getting rewritten right now. There are now more than 57 genders you can identify with on social media. I'm sure the individual that first hired you at 90 plus years old, may not have conceived of the very idea that we would in mainstream popular culture, embrace 57 identities of gender, so many ideas that we thought were unquestionable, like, this is how the world is. This is how bank works. Nope, too big to fail, the bank went away. Thank you economic crisis, so many things that were stable ideas are getting up ended and reimagined and becoming more open. And it's a very exciting time to be alive. I think because of that,

Greg Voisen
that have you would you say? Or would you agree with this comment that political structures, governmental structures, educational structures, our own identities? That it's somewhat messy. It's one thing to go to apple and ask them to download Catalina 15 point 2.3 Make sure my system works. But as human beings, I think we've all gotten this a bit messy.

Seth Goldenberg
Absolutely. I love that you said it like that. Because I mean, in some ways that passes the baton. And I appreciate your very kind comments about the book because we have a series of diagrams that actually that in between space, I actually kind of call the messy middle to your point that in between zone where it feels like a lot of friction, almost like growing pains between one model and the next one. I think when you think about it this way, when you read the newspaper, you look at world events. It's helpful to conceive that of this moment happening this protest this governmental shift this policy, these are indicators or little moments of evidence of that messy space, that friction you're talking about. Right?

Greg Voisen
So you know, when you look at it, I mean, let's face it, we in a history of our lives, I'm 68 years old. So when you when you your perspective about how the Internet has sped up information and how we receive information, how we digest information, how we go through this actually allows us to and I'm going to say it's been the evolutionary Oh copper in this guy wouldn't say it's the only helper but it certainly has been a big evolutionary helper in having us question. And even, all the way from democratization standpoint, all the way down to everybody in the world, because we all can carry on, as you said, a minute ago, this device and receive information to actually start to assimilate question and think about things, including interpreting different languages across the device, right? Anything you want to add to that? Or am I No,

Seth Goldenberg
I love I love where you're taking us because it, it aligns with an argument that I'm proposing the book that I mean, as we both to this gesture, right, a Hollywood film studio, and all of wisdom of all libraries on the planet now fit in our pocket. And so what that means is that knowledge has become a commodity. And so if knowledge is a commodity, then curiosity is not so much about the recall and regurgitation, maybe of traditional education, where we're memorizing information, demonstrating it in colloquial school. But actually, Curiosity is really about the discovery and the continual innovation of new knowledge. Right? So the danger is, if we just rest on preexisting knowledge, and we're just administering the solution sets that already exist, we begin to rest on our laurels, and we no longer create new wisdom in the world.

Greg Voisen
Yeah, and you know, you ask a big question in the book, and I, I, you know, look, my wife was a school teacher for 24 years. So I get it. And this is around education. This is around education. learning, learning. So you propose a big idea in the book. And you state that the compulsory education, or I should say education system, is a policy that requires school attendance, by law, but what is education for? And should it be compulsory? You ask? I mean, this is a salon question, right? You hopefully you had a bunch of educators in the salon, and you did this, that education is too big to fail, but maybe it should, that probably wouldn't go over too well. And a lot of the bureaucrats in the education sector, but they really need to think about it. And that brought up this this little quandary that people have been having now about Biden saying he's going to actually release everybody from their debt from education. And I'm like, well, how I paid my student loans. Why should everybody else right? So politically, speak with us about the differences between education and learning, and the movement of unlearning? And unschooling? Because this is a big one.

Seth Goldenberg
No, I love I love the convergence of your of your inquiry, because you're pulling on some my favorite and most dangerous ideas. I mean, I think the challenge on the provocation there is to say, we have institutionalized things we have maybe made the management and the techniques and the tactics more important than the origin of why we're doing things in the first place. And this is a problem across every sector, not just education. Sometimes I think we, we get so far downstream, and we're moving the pieces, but we forget why we're even in the adventure to begin with. And so it's, you know, it's that great quote from I think it was, might have been Albert Einstein, who said, you know, the only thing that gets in the way of my learning is education. Right? And so I think for me, I actually I love learning. I'm a lifelong learner. I would be in school forever if I could. I think the question is

Greg Voisen
where you are, yeah. Well, you're in the school of life right now. And you're, and you're a teacher, you're teaching.

Seth Goldenberg
Well said Well said, well, my wife is an educator. I fell in love with her and this beautiful school that she helped originate, which is all about community and civic engagement. So I'm with you. I just think even with that example, school does not have to be the four walled classroom. Right learning does not need to have curricular standards and beer. kradic committees reviewing, you know, the intake of what you remember, I think that what we need to do in every one of these social systems, health, housing, justice, learning, we need to remind ourselves, what do we even mean by these pursuits? When we started them, we kind of pushed the Y aside. So the compulsory point is, we set up these kind of paradoxes. Does everyone believe K to 12, public education is working and as the best it's ever imagined itself know, everybody's got their story, they said, well, I would do this differently, that different, it's not great. If anything, it's, you know, really complex. I'll get to your unlearning question in a minute. But then we say, but by the way, if you don't go, we're gonna throw you in jail, called truancy. Right? I mean, we've set up these paradoxes for ourselves. And so rather than ask hard questions, be radically curious and say, what do we really mean? What is the purpose of learning in our society? Is it for enlightenment? Is it for citizenship? Is it for skills? Is it beginning me on a labor journey? So I could be a worker? I mean, under what ideology? Under what belief system? Did we even give birth to the system. And we forgot

Greg Voisen
that chat, but we haven't had that chat. Because the system, I'm sitting here looking at two degrees of masters that's on my wall over here, and a bachelor's degree. And my high school diploma isn't up. But he each time, it's a piece of paper that says you've accomplished something, because the system created this these diplomas to say, oh, you can get a better job if you have that diploma, or you can do whatever. I personally haven't found that the diplomas were what created my future. Right? What created my future for me was me. My ability to learn on my own, and my insatiable desire to continue learning. Thus, podcasting, right. So, you know, I love it, talk about our learning. Because we gotta unlearn those diplomas to actually check the box in your salon that says, we're going to reform the educational system?

Seth Goldenberg
Well, I think it has a lot to do with these ideas of the legacy narratives, right? We all around us, there are messages and frameworks and models that were born into. Yeah, money exists us as a capitalistic society. These are the religions. This is the town, this is your family. I mean, we are born into a variety of constraints that were decided by people before we got here. That is absolutely right. And for me, I think unlearning is about and I love that you opened by talking about critical thinking. Right? I thought that was quite beautiful to bring the discussion right there. I think we don't do enough thinking about thinking, a kind of a level of self-awareness and collective awareness of, well, where did these ideas come from? They just came from mere mortals who were here a little earlier. This Yeah, I saw this great quote, once is that history is peer pressure from dead people. And but there's also these beautiful, you know, I think it was Benjamin Franklin, who talked about, you know, we are all a part of the next revolution, right? Every generation needs a revolution to upgrade the rule and the model of society that works in context to now so I think unlearning is about deprogramming the legacies and inheritance that maybe doesn't work in context anymore. I mean, when we said earlier, how might we see those appending indicators? Is and that you talked about that messy part that the kind of those birthing pains of a society through an OS upgrade? Imagine unlearning racism in this country? Is Black Lives Matter and the protests and the events over the past two to three years? Are they an isolated event or part of a narrative arc? That's a part of that operating system reboot? Right.

Greg Voisen
Well, I left that going on. That's been going on since well, since the dawn of time, but it's in our air you're in mind Ever since we've been brought up the 60s, you know, absolutely. So, you know, the thing that I would say, though, is based on kind of the learning unlearning dialogue we've been having is in, in this society, in particular western industrialized society seems to be very, again, the term I'm going to use, you're probably not gonna like it. But I think we've created more lemmings than we've ever created in our life. As a result of the structural the norms, the beliefs that we run with, in our own mind, and very little questioning about whether or not that's where I want to be. Now, we did have a great rising here with COVID. We had, you know, everybody's saying the great resignation, resigning from the job, and I can't find people to work in these jobs, I can't blah, whatever it might be. From a good standpoint, they're questioning something very deep. And I think in a lot of people's cases, very spiritual. It is a question about my life and how I'm going to women. I mean, a very simple question that maybe you never even asked prior to COVID because so many people die. So it's your finitude? Oh, yeah. Well, if the My biggest fear is death, and that's what awoke me to questioning. Right. And usually, in spiritual cases, it does, you know, somebody has a near death experience, because I do a lot of shows on spirituality. That's it. But I mean, it's the day that was just my comment. Yeah, this, I think this, you speak in your book?

Seth Goldenberg
Do you mind if I reply? No,

Greg Voisen
no, go ahead. I'd love to, you know, have a dialogue about you.

Seth Goldenberg
Know, just, just because I think it's so important, what you're saying. So I didn't want us to move too fast from because I think you're really getting to something critical. I mean, my version of your lemmings comment is the opening chapter to build a case for radical curiosity, the kind of sound the alarm is, I believe that curiosity is an endangered species. Yeah, I believe that we are not asking enough questions. And we are too easily comforted by the auto pilot of how the world has been set for us. And that's a dangerous place to be. And I think it leads to some very real damage that we're seeing in the world, whether it be climate, whether it be a capital riot attack. I mean, these are not accidental. These are expressions of the absence of inquiry, the absence of questioning and curiosity. I think, what you're what you're also adding there, you know, and your second part, which I think is I mean, you're like speaking my language, brother, right? Yeah. I just think, you know, it's an extraordinary time. And it's like, I want to scream from the top of the hills. What are we doing, we have so much potential, so much beauty so much wonder. And we're squandering it right. And so technical

Greg Voisen
curiosity, though, in my estimation, and I hopefully you can connect the dots here if you would. But when people get comfortable, and they're not uncomfortable, okay? When they just get so comfortable. And you live in such an affluent society, where you've got everything. You have the time to ponder and ask those questions. The thought would be, are you or are you squandering your time doing things that are not advancing your learning? Okay. And I think there's many places in this world where there's a lot of discomfort right now. Okay. We can look at Ukraine, we can look at Russia, we can look at all these other places, Sudan burn, lots of discomfort. And we live in a society in particular, puking you and me, and probably three quarters of the population in the United States, relatively comfortable, which is what the uprising outside has been saying for a long time. You guys are too damn comfortable. Right. Anyway, without me going to go I don't want to go on this on that because I got another great question for you. But go ahead. You want to call it

Seth Goldenberg
you're raising it so well. One of the ideas so the book at the at the conclusion of the book, I try and take these whispering general generous stories that you know, as a good book, as you described, through these kind of vignettes, I distill those vignettes into what I call 28, building blocks for radical curiosity. One of those is something I think you're hitting on is what I call question inequity. So we know about economic inequity, and that kind of disparaging rate of value, and the kind of human rights and conditions that are coming from that globally, and particularly here in the United States. But I think one of the ways I'm trying to flip that is say, well, questioning and curiosity may have become a kind of luxury good, to your point. Who has the power to be asking the questions? Who sets the agenda? Do I even if I'm trying to just survive in an economic condition? Just to make it through the day? Do I even have the luxury of having the imagination to set curiosity as a kind of guiding Northstar in my life, or in my work that itself is rare air? So I'm here in totally an inequity that goes far beyond economics, but the rights and the responsibility for the capacity to QUESTION

Greg Voisen
Well, what I like about what you're doing in your salons, the idea of salons is every race, every ethnicity, every economic people with depravity and people with lots of money can come into a salon. Right. And it's through that diversity that you're going to actually find the best questions asked. And I think that's the state you're creating now. Yes, yes. Okay. You know, you speak in your book about one of the rarest pleasures, which was taking a walk with Maurice Sendak, the gentleman legendary author of where the wild things are. And actually when I focused on that, and I saw how he was so Curt in the way he answered some of those questions. I realized I didn't have a disdain for him at all. I was just kind of like, wow, this guy is just really abrupt. It's like, that is the way it is. Don't question it. Where are you? You know, questioning it? What did you learn about storytelling, and how can stories become catalysts for Regenerative learning? Hmm. Sounded like a real interesting dude.

Seth Goldenberg
Yeah, I mean, I think I like many millions of Americans grew up with him as Yeah, I know, the nighttime ritual, right? Yeah. And it was it was a rare pleasure because he was an icon for me. I saw him at the end of his life. He has a kind of, it's not just the abruptness, I'm able to say and confirm from first person spirit. There's a kind of very beautiful curmudgeon Enos

Greg Voisen
that said he was a curmudgeon. Yeah,

Seth Goldenberg
absolutely. But the most, the most sincere and the most rare eyes to see the world. And I think, you know, I use him in the book as an example to talk about the power of stories and how storytelling and the way that narrative has become a such a critical way to organize our lives, we think about ourselves, our families, our careers, even the order of time that there's a narrative arc, it really has kind of in camouflage seeped into every facet of our lives. And it helped me understand this notion of legacy narratives and new challenger narratives as a way to kind of see sociologically about how ideas change and they move through the world. And so I think when I use this word, regenerative, I mean, we're talking a lot about regenerative agriculture right now. Regenerative ecosystems, and I think generative or regenerative storytelling or near question, learning, it's, there's a way in which stories can revive and alive in our sensibilities and bring that OS us alive? Right. And I think he's a master at that. But what was fascinating is, as those of us who know that book well, he left space for us to complete the story ourselves. I think great stories are not a sideline, passive sport. You are, as a reader, completing the narrative, you are a participant and actor in the story, I actual quantity of words, and where the wild things are. It's like less than 100 words. And between the poetic of the sentence, and the beauty of his illustration, and the mind of both the reader and the listener, we can complete that world, we can complete the story. And I think regenerative is really about the invitation to participate. And co-author, what comes next?

Greg Voisen
Well, you're activating imagination, you know, kids that would read that book, or the parents would read it to them, you activate that imagination, and I think that's kind of what you're talking about. And I, I remember, I'm gonna make a comment here, just to comment. I not that long ago, had Rebecca cost on here, social biologists, who wrote watchman's rattle. And she wrote another book on the verge. And I said, you know, if we have all this analytics and data these days, it can tell us and predict the future and global warming and everything that's going on. And I said, why is it that as a species, we wait so long to take action to do anything. And she paused for a minute. And she said, because as a species, evolutionary, we really haven't evolved that much. That's the way we're born. You know, it kind of, you know, the fight or flight kind of situation I'm talking about, it's really interesting, good example, because you're proposing something that's actually activating something, to get people to go into a salon, where they might, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait until, like you said, a global warming? Is it a complete place to devastate the whole globe? And we're Oh, my God, no, we've got to do something about it. You know, I always thought that that interview for me brought out in me, it's like, Holy Christ, you've been around as a species for 1000s of years, why the hell haven't we been able to do all this limbic system that's in here that just keeps firing back the same way? Now, you state the participation is a prerequisite for the democratic conversation is the key indicator for health of the public sphere. How can we compel government to evolve along with the values and needs of citizenry? And what new designs could be introduced to bring a culture of curiosity to government? Oh, boy, this is a juicy question. Because I don't know when government's ever gonna change. And I think everybody out here keeps looking at it and saying, where are the leaders?

Seth Goldenberg
Absolutely, absolutely. Well, I think, you know, what, what's special about democracy, as you suggest, is it is a participatory process, not unlike this regenerative storytelling idea. And so it's interesting that, like, think about a presidential election, and how we line up on stage, the leaders who propose solutions, they propose, go to my website, you'll see I have a health care plan all laid out. It does this it does that does that. Now I'm a solutionist. Like the best of them. But actually, I'd love to see the day where a leader proposes a process not an answer, huh? Wait, so you have all Oh, on your website, you have the answer for education. Climate, so oh, so we're eradicating curiosity. There's nothing new to figure out. I as a citizen, I'm just supposed to choose which solution is the right one,

Greg Voisen
or no, I'm supposed to put my faith in you. Because you've given me the solution. And now I can just go to sleep. Well, that's, oh, you're gonna do this, you're gonna do that and the world is going to be wet better for the rest of our lives. And so, okay, I can Giuliana.

Seth Goldenberg
I would love to see a presidential candidate who stands up and says, you know what? I don't know, the right answer to health care. But I don't think there's one. And I think what I would do as president is to create dozens and dozens of grand experiments and bring people together who have experience and expertise and passion for the future and begin a portfolio of many experiments to innovate and fine, what is right for our nation at this moment in history. And let's make an error. I mean, I think of the JFK New Frontier era, we didn't know the answer is, this is how you get to the moon. We said, we're gonna go to this destination, and the project is the process of getting there. Yeah. Now,

Greg Voisen
what you're saying is what needs to happen. The question is what needs to happen to have that happen? I think you need to get more politicians in your salons?

Seth Goldenberg
Yeah. I think yeah, I mean, I mean, look, I was I write a little bit about and I was a big fan of Andrew Yang, just as a real outlier example of a presidential candidate. I, you know, I had a little bit of a personal relationship with him. And I was a big supporter of just shaking up and introducing unexpected ideas. And yeah, look, I think, to your point, you know, it's not a fatality of woe government is over. I do agree with the question Where Have All the leaders gone? But I think what we probably need is, leaders from unexpected places. What I loved about Andrew is, he was an entrepreneur, not a lifetime government leader. And I think bringing people in from other sectors that have not been career government, or political operatives, or, or elected officials can really mix up and remix almost like a hip hop, you know, remix album, like, what would it look like, if I love to see Jose Andres, the chef become Brazil, the United States? You know, I mean, obviously, you know, he's not from the United States is from Spain. But I mean, it'd be really fascinating to understand the social entrepreneur, and the other kinds of qualities that we probably need now that are actually exhibited in other domains that government, but government would be well to embrace.

Greg Voisen
Yeah, we'd bring some interesting perspective to the table regarding these potential solutions, or even testing solutions. Now, I loved your little part of the book, you stated the greatest threat to curiosity, extension of dialogue, exactly what you and I are doing, you speak about the pop song 2016. We don't talk anymore. And I didn't go to YouTube to go look at the song. But I do get that it's have 2.5 billion views. You stay there, we're losing our ability to converse, to exchange ideas to find common ground. If you would speak with the listeners out there about some of the recent evidence of this inability to dialogue and antidotes for this problem. You already mentioned Black Lives Matter. You've already mentioned, you know, the debacle with the environment, you know, the co2 emissions and global warming. There's many of these problems. But the question is, well, what are the anecdotes?

Seth Goldenberg
Well, I think that we don't talk anymore module chapter, if you will. It's really about the art of dialogue, less than these kind of big world conflicts or projects or events. But they're they are the sources of what how do we converse and cooperate to deal with them? To your point, right. I think it's kind of very basic and very human and very, almost more accessible than say that the scale of climate or race, it's just like, how do we how do we sit at a table? Yeah. And, and be with one another? And, you know, I think it's interesting, right? There's, there's a lot of evidence of that to your question of the inability I mean, I mean, even the idea that there's almost like an entirely new lexicons about, you know, about gaslighting and about these kind of the chaos of fake news. I mean, there's like new devices. Also, literally addictive social devices. There are all kinds of interesting variables that seem to be undermining our bill. Just be with one another and hear one another. And actually, it's interesting because you've mentioned the salon several times. But one of the unique and most important characteristics of a salon is they're essentially unscripted. It's not a conference where you have a sage on stage, as I like to say, right, literally almost set up like a three day dinner party. And it's fascinating because some people feel very uncomfortable in the absence of that structure that they're used to when it's unscripted. When we say, look, here's a question. And we'd like you to take a full day to explore it, and to not have the distractions or the interventions or the channels, that we usually navigate those that are kind of like mediating devices, it makes us a little more naked, a little more, you know, intimate with one another. And it's fascinating to see what leaders thrive and what leaders flourish in that and where people need to kind of find their footing. So we've been kind of doing this experiment about how to set the conditions for people to hear one another and just revive that art of conversation. And it's fascinating, you know,

Greg Voisen
well, I think that they, they're uncomfortable number one, too, when they come into an environment like that, usually, because that's not what they've experienced. That hasn't been what the norms are, that isn't one set. Two, I remember doing this work at many places where we, we had just a talking stick, and we would pass the talking stick around and follow the Native American kind of philosophy about that event. We go into Levi Strauss, and we were handling, and we were handing the stick around. There's got a Minnesota that Rhonda ran those salons and he's still doing them. I'm going to introduce you all right. Okay, cool. Yeah. But I agree with you, you know, just to have that dialogue, to have that interaction and not be distracted by a device or look up an answer on the device, oh, I can Google that. I'm gonna I'm gonna I'm gonna go. See what Google has to say about that, I think is really, really important work that you're doing. And I want to tell my listeners, you know, Seth books here, go get it. Just go get it, read it. It's a great, it's a great book, go to his website, curiosity and company. You're just typing curiosity and company, and it's gonna come up. It's a wonderful website, you're gonna learn more about him. You're gonna learn more about the book, you can learn more about what he's doing and in salons. One last question. I found this book is one of the most thought provoking books I've reviewed in quite some time. It provides guidelines and ways to shift our thinking, and our worldviews if people take it and use it. What advice would you like to leave the listeners with that they can apply to their work in their personal life, that would transform their levels of curiosity, to become radically curious.

Seth Goldenberg
What a juicy way to conclude, I love that we're giving each other you know, I think it's a term we probably we spoke about indirectly, but maybe didn't even use the specific word. But I think that asking questions, and really stepping into a radical curiosity is about reclaiming power. And it's almost like the more optimistic flip of your lemmings model and my endangered species concern, which is that don't give up don't sign off, folks. Right? It's not the matrix. Meet, we have an extraordinary amount of power to grab the reins of our lives, and the work that we do, and construct wildly beautiful meaning. And without questions, we resign that power. And so for me the kind of call to action and the thing that I would do is I would remind we that questioning is a form of power.

Greg Voisen
Oh, certainly, not only that, a form of freedom. Because it liberates you in having a feeling not so much of knowing even if it's of not knowing. But it's the fact that you took the time to question right now. And as you said, you're a solutionist. I saw heard that one of the things well, okay, so you're going to take the pieces, put them together any designer does to come up with a solution. You're a designer, artists do the same things I wrote, I wrote a book on intuition, you're gonna listen to intuition. And you're going to either respond or ignore it. But the key is, it's fundamentally going to excite your intuition. It's going to help you get in touch greater with that in a greater way and in a way to listen to it. And then most importantly, take action on it. Believe in it. Seth, it's been just an honor and pleasure to have you on the show. I could have stayed on and asked a lot more. I skipped three or four of the questions, but only because of timing. I totally appreciate what you're doing. I wish you all the best let's stay in touch.

Seth Goldenberg
Oh, thank you so much for your kindness I love..

Greg Voisen
Namaste to you and to everybody there at Curiosity & Co. to keep up the work. I'm going to have to come and into a salon. I would love to do that.

Seth Goldenberg
We'd love to have you a delight.

Greg Voisen
Thanks Seth.

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