Curiosity drives innovation. It is an impulse to pursue a thought, find a solution, seek new possibilities or keep on a path to see what’s around the next bend. Driven largely by Elon Musk’s relentless pursuit of curiosity, SpaceX just became the first private company to send people in a spacecraft to the International Space Station and is on a path to making space tourism a reality in our lifetimes.
According to Mario Livio, an astrophysicist, and author of the book Why? there are two types of curiosity. During a 2017 podcast appearance for Knowledge@Wharton, Livio stated, “There is perceptual curiosity. That’s the curiosity we feel when something surprises us or when something doesn’t agree with what we know or think we know. That is felt as an unpleasant state…. On the other hand, there is epistemic curiosity, which is a pleasurable state associated with an anticipation of reward. That’s our level of knowledge. That’s what drives all scientific research. It drives many artworks. It drives education and things like that.”
No less than Albert Einstein once similarly, succinctly remarked, “I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.”
Curiosity and Entrepreneurship
Curiosity has been a driving force for Ben Lamm, CEO and founder of Hypergiant, throughout his career, leading to massive success across multiple diverse disciplines.
As a child, Lamm traveled frequently to Africa with his family, and at an early age, he saw the stark contrast between life on that continent versus suburban Texas, where he grew up. He saw that the world operated in a multitude of ways and that within those differences, opportunities lay. This led him to question things that most people accepted, even his own thoughts and assumptions.
Self-exploration and questioning are part of perceptual curiosity, something many of us lose as we grow more stable and confident with our life decisions. Yet for Lamm, that self-exploration led to early successes in the form of personal growth. He became a better student, a better friend and a better hustler.
Now, five companies in, Lamm is on to his most ambitious startup yet with Hypergiant, a modern-day Stark Industries servicing the space-company industry with advanced AI, autonomous satellite command and control systems, Intergalactic internet, an Iron Man-inspired space helmet, an AI-powered bioreactor that converts CO2 into algae and more.
For most people, these innovations sound straight out of a sci-fi movie, but with a tagline like “Tomorrowing Today” and a leader like Lamm at the helm, these innovations are natural outcomes that come from a culture that encourages a passionate pursuit of curiosity in all areas of life and work.