Guy Raz: “Having an interesting life is just choosing to be curious”

Guy Raz tells Noah Kagan (friend of The Hustle) how he got started, what makes an interesting life and the best dinner party questions.


October 21, 2020

Noah Kagan — a longtime friend of The Hustle — is the mind behind OkDork, a YouTube channel which draws amazing lessons from 8-figure founders. To date, it has 85k subs and you can subscribe here.

Kagan recently did a Q&A with Guy Raz, host of the popular business podcast How I Built This. Kagan took time to ask Raz a few questions specifically for The Hustle’s readers:

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How did you start “How I Built This”?

I took a year off as a journalist in 2008 and took a class at Harvard Business School. 

The first day I’m expecting algorithms and charts and graphs… They hand out a document and it’s the story of Starbucks. 

I’m like, what’s this?! 

They said it’s the “case study” method. It’s how we learn here at Harvard business school. I was like wait, you learn about business through stories!? I was totally blown away. 

So I knew back then in 2008, I would tell these stories in a deeper more meaningful way. And make it available for everyone which is what we did with the show. 

What is an interesting life? 

Doing things that are interesting to me and keep my brain firing. Journalism reporting, interviewing people, and telling stories did that for me. 

All that over time evolved into what I do now. 

How can more people live an interesting life? 

It’s very, very simple. In our culture, we elevate intelligence and think it’s so important. 

The reality is intelligence is incredibly overrated. 

We all possess the ability to CHOOSE to be curious. That is all I do. I am choosing to be curious. 

I first interviewed a cosmetics founder a few years ago and was not interested at all in cosmetics. So all I did was chose to be curious and now I am endlessly fascinated with cosmetics. 

Having an interesting life is just choosing to be curious. This means exposing yourself to ideas, to books, to themes, to shows, to people. 

What is the Guy Raz perfect dinner party question? 

I’ll start by saying I’m the worst dinner party guest ever. I’m awkward, quiet, and not good in big groups over 4. 

One question is not enough. You can ask: “What’s your greatest fear? Your biggest desire? Your biggest failure?” But those questions don’t always elicit great answers. 

The reality is, every single person has a story to tell. They’ve gone through a crisis, had heartache, suffered loss, etc. 

What I’ve found is when you really know someone’s story, it’s really hard to not empathize with them. 

During the Harvard fellowship, once a week every journalist stands in front of the group and tells their life story. They share photos and music and also serve food from their background culture. 

It was one of the most powerful experiences of my life. 

You start connecting only with a few people you naturally have things in common with. Then every week you learn people’s full stories. I was so moved by them. 

In a perfect world, we would all know each other’s stories. So in a perfect dinner party, I would want everyone to tell their life story. 

How did you first start connecting with impressive people? 

During my teenage years, I started to get into journalism. I joined the student newspaper in high school as well as college. 

I loved the opportunity to talk to anybody. I’m naturally an introvert and not the life of the party. 

But once I had a notepad in my hand and I can ask a question and say, “Hey Noah…I’m doing this story can I ask you some questions” — It was much easier to approach people. 

I loved that because I really did want to connect with people and was able to do that through journalism and reporting.

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