The Power Of The Curious with Zander Lurie

If we’ve learned anything in this current political, entertainment environment, and social media environment, it’s that the people’s voices need to be heard. The best thing you can do is to ask other human beings for their opinions, especially in business. This is what Zander Lurie, CEO of SurveyMonkey, believes.  SurveyMonkey is the world’s most popular free online survey tool. Zander says people who ask for that rich sentiment data and opinion data are those that launch the best products and marketing campaigns. Zander shares his background and goes deep into their company’s mission and culture, as well as how they’ve created a curious workplace and collected a diverse number of people in their leadership team and board of directors, including Serena Williams. On the side, Diane also talks a little bit about the CCI or the Curiosity Code Index.

TTL 328 | Curiosity


We’ve got a very interesting show because we have Zander Lurie here. Zander is the CEO of SurveyMonkey which is all based around things that I’m fascinated with, which are curiosity-based issues. We’re going to talk a lot about curiosity. We’re going to talk a little bit about the CCI after we get a chance to talk to Zander. If you’re not aware of what the CCI is, it’s the Curiosity Code Index. I hope you enjoy that part of the discussion. We’re going to talk to Zander.

Listen to the podcast here

The Power Of The Curious with Zander Lurie

I am here with Zander Lurie who is the CEO of SurveyMonkey. He serves on its board of directors. He has quite an interesting background because he has been with GoPro, CBS, JP Morgan. It’s a variety of who’s who companies and it’s exciting to have you here, Zander. Welcome.

Thanks, Dianne. It’s a pleasure to be here.

I was watching that video of you at the Social Innovation Summit where you were talking about changing your music and the elevators in your office.

I had to make the executive call that Total Eclipse of the Heart is just a workplace song. We surveyed our employees and asked them what they wanted to listen to. Thankfully, they conferred with my thought.

I bet you do survey your employees more often than other places I would imagine. I used your survey tool, SurveyMonkey, to do my research for my book on curiosity. I was fascinated when I started following some of the work you were doing in the #PowerTheCurious stuff that you talk about and the TEDx Talk from your chief research officer. I’m very interested in talking to you about what your company values in terms of curiosity. Can you give a little background on you before we go into how you got to that level of appreciating curiosity? I said a little bit about your background, but do you want to expand on that?

We’re psyched to talk to you partly because you are a curious person. That is the mission of the company, to power the curious. Our products and software help individuals and organizations. It’s for curious people who want to serve their customers, their employees and the new markets they’re going after better. The best thing you can do is ask other human beings for their opinions. For people who want to take that rich sentiment data, opinion data and marry it to the other data they have, we believe those are the people that launched the best products, marketing campaigns, packaging, pricing, student benefits, health care. Curiosity is at the root of all human beings. All the parents know that children are inherently curious and happy over life. Sometimes that curiosity gets rooted out of you when you’re told what to do, what’s right and what constitutes smart.

[bctt tweet=”People want to work with high performing people who love their work and deliver when they sign up for something.” via=”no”]

Our products are about infusing curiosity into the workflows, in your companies, institutions, nonprofit institutions. That’s the brand we get psyched to serve seventeen million active users every day and over 650,000 paid customers. #PowerTheCurious is what SurveyMonkey does. We created the category seventeen years ago and the company is thriving now. I’ve had a fun career over the last twenty years after graduating from business and law school. I started my career in investment banking for seven years. I have spent a lot of time on internet companies. I went on to CNET Networks and helped them find strategies. I became the CFO. We sold the company to CVS. Then I landed in GoPro running the entertainment division. I joined SurveyMonkey full-time on January 16 after my friend, Dave Goldberg, tragically and suddenly passed away in 2015. The board asked me to step into his role. It’s been a journey working with an incredible team, board of directors, customer base and trying to help the company reach our full potential.

You mentioned your board. You’ve got quite an interesting board: Serena Williams and Sheryl Sandberg. I know you’re big on promoting diversity in the workplace. You’ve been a big vocal proponent of women and I love to see that that you’ve got a unique board. What was the reaction when you added Serena Williams?

It’s easy to advocate for women in our board of directors and our leadership team. Our customer base is half women. Our employee base is almost half women, about 46% female. Our senior leadership team is five men and five women. Our board of directors is five and five. I’m a firm believer that you want a board of directors that represents your shareholder base, your employee base, somebody they can look up to for leadership, guidance, a fiduciary who oversee the business. We’re fortunate to have access to Sheryl Sandberg, who is one of the great business leaders of our time. It was fun to meet Serena. The one thing I was looking for about a year into this job was who could I add to the board who espouses grit. When you think about Silicon Valley companies, if you’re a fan of pop culture, if you’re following the news, I wouldn’t say that your average Silicon Valley company constitutes that much grit.

People brag a lot about our benefits, transportation, and compensation. Serena Williams grew up in Compton, California. She took on an industry where nobody looked like her and has done nothing but dominate her field for twenty years. She’s won 24 Grand Slams. She’s been injured. She’s had a baby and she came back to continue to be world class. The opportunity to bring her in to teach this organization about winning, about resilience, about getting up and fighting hard to be your very best every day gets people excited. When she comes, she’s super keen on our brand and using our products. She’s a social media marketing genius. She launched her own companies and she’s an advocate for equal pay, which is super important to our employee base here.

I am a big fan of hers. My aunt played at Wimbledon. We have a lot of tennis fans in my family. It’s interesting to see the diversity and the greatness that you guys have. If I was starting out in the industry right now, your company would be my first choice of a place where I’d want to work. It’s has written all over what I’m interested in. I love the culture that you have there. The whole curiosity thing is fascinating to me. When I did my research, I used your assessments to get some initial data. It’s so easy to use SurveyMonkey. It’s the best thing ever. I’m a huge fan.

I found out that four things kept people from being curious. There’s fear, assumptions, which are the voice in your head telling you you’re not interested or whatever, technology and environment. You mentioned the environmental things, I’ve noticed. How you can have things rooted out of you is how you put it. There are so much that I’d like to see happen in organizations to embrace curiosity. I’d like it to be almost the way they look at emotional intelligence, which I wrote my doctoral dissertation on. There are certain things that you need to focus on to make a curious workplace. I’m curious how you guys go about doing it there?

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Curiosity: Curiosity is the heart of innovation, asking questions, and trying to be disruptive to be better.


If you embrace curiosity at the heart of innovation and asking questions, trying to be disruptive to be better, we like to think we are in the relentless self-improvement business. How can we help make our products more productive for our customers? How can we make an environment here at SurveyMonkey so that people can do the best work of their lives? We’ve had to be very prescriptive in terms of how we run the business. For starters, we don’t embrace individuals who are interrupting and feel like they have this inherent right to demand their opinion be accepted, just because they’re more senior to other people. We’re trying to embrace a collaborative culture where we have direct conversations. We give honest feedback. We celebrate asking people for feedback, asking people for growth opportunities, development opportunities, celebrating good questions, which challenged the status quo.

We’ve implemented mentorship programs. I do a lot of skip-level meetings with folks who report to my directs to understand what’s working on their team. If you look at SurveyMonkey, we’re not the place where you get your annual review and once a year you find out how you’re doing. This is a place where there is constant feedback. We’re constantly using our product to assess how we can be better. I like to use one example just because we’ve put some press around it. We think it’s important. We do an annual check in on our benefits, where we can allocate money to be more productive with our employee base. When we surveyed our 800 plus employees months ago, some of the unstructured feedback came back asking how are we treating our contractors, the janitors to clean our bathrooms, the chefs who work in our kitchen. There are dozens of people here who are primarily immigrants who are not in the highest paying jobs asking how are their parental leave policies, their vacation days, bereavement leave.

What we found out was we were not paying these people the same high-quality benefits that we’re offering our designers, engineers and sales folks. We implemented the same benefits package for our contractors that we have for all of our full-time employees. We asked the vendors who employ those contractors to kick in and if they didn’t kick in, we were not going to keep working with them. Those kinds of benefits did not come from my creativity or good ideas. It was born out of a survey of our employees. It goes to show you that soliciting input from a diverse group of people who work around you can bring the best ideas to the floor. We implemented those. Our employee base celebrated those. We put some PR around it and we see other companies follow suit, which we are super proud of.

That’s awesome. I noticed that they didn’t like listening to your grunge rock. I was listening to that other conversation you had and you didn’t force them to do that. Thank you for changing that. Did you put it back to Total Eclipse for them? I didn’t get to hear the end of the interview.

We put music in our bathrooms, which I was a keen fan of. I programmed the music for a 45-year-old guy who went to college in Seattle. I love listening to Pearl Jam and Nirvana. That was not accepted by the bathroom-enjoying people who work here. The survey gave us some new music programming ideas, which aren’t my favorites, but they’re listening to the crowd if you will.

It’s great that you’re getting this information from your employees. Part of the training that I do with curiosity is we get the employees to not only work on their own level of curiosity, but to come up with a plan for leaders to help them fix some of the curiosity-based issues like engagement, leadership and conflict. Anything that they see a problem with giving feedback to employers. That ties in to what you’re saying. It’s the same thing, you’re getting that information. I don’t think a lot of companies do that. Feedback is so important. You’ve had a transformation with your Survey Monkey since you’ve been there. I’m curious what transformation have you seen.

[bctt tweet=”People’s voices need to be heard.” via=”no”]

You bring on a whole bunch of C3 people who’ve thrived in their career. If you ask the vast majority of senior executives, do they feel like their company embraces curiosity? Do they feel comfortable sharing your ideas to the vast majority? I’ll say yes. We surveyed 23,000 people and 83% of C3 leaders said they feel comfortable sharing those ideas because they don’t have societal pressures in their company where they feel they might look stupid. The truth is that underrepresented minorities like women and junior folks in the company don’t feel that same level of safety in sharing those disruptive ideas. People fear they could be dismissed, could be interrupted. They feel folks could feel like that idea is stupid or doesn’t have data to support it.

People don’t share as much in the same level of creativity and innovation even born out companies that have that culture of genius. We celebrated Carol Dweck, the PhD from Stanford, who talked about the growth mindset. How do you consistently and constantly be learning and growing by asking questions and listening to the diverse voices and opinions around the table? I took on the job a few years ago. The company was beleaguered after the death of a beloved CEO and transition of another CEO. For us, we needed to get back on offense and have a culture where people could do the best work of their lives but also demand high performance. We have values on our wall like a lot of companies and I’m proud of it. I believe we lived those values.

We use those values in who we hire, who we promote, how we pay and who we fire. One of those values is you are accountable. People want to work with high performing people who love their work and deliver when they sign up for something. We knew that our products were used around the world inside of organizations, but we didn’t yet have a product that met the enterprise institutional grade needs of the organization to be bought by the organization. Our model was primarily end-user where people use credit cards to pay for SurveyMonkey inside the companies they were working at. We needed to transform our leadership team and our focus to deliver a product that we can now sell into enterprises. What we’re now doing is selling to some of the best companies in the world. Our sales business is growing at hypergrowth and that fueled our IPO. This has driven a lot of this performance-oriented culture that we’re celebrating now.

I am a huge fan of everything you do. The hardest part for me was after I had my data if I wanted to create an actual instrument where I could change the questionnaire and then have it create an output like a PDF thing. A lot of people are creating assessments now. That’s something I don’t know if SurveyMonkey does, but I’m putting that on my list of requests for things I’d love to see how it happened. That was for me the challenging part of creating an assessment. There’s so much great data to be had. You mentioned Carol Dweck. I used quite a bit in my research as well what she’s done. There’s so much that we can get from surveying people. You’ve made it easy. I know you are growing and doing things. What was that acquisition that you had?

Usabilla, it’s an Amsterdam-based startup, which has developed a powerful software solution for high traffic websites like Toyota, KLM, and Philips. The use their website to collect feedback from users. Users are the millions of people who come across your website that are not existing customers. What you’ll find is that every brand’s most important touch points are the website and its mobile app. If you find bugs on the website or shopping carts that were abandoned, you need to collect the feedback to understand what happened. How do we improve the quality of the experience? That’s where Usabilla is a real market leader. I want to go back to what you said about the ease of use of our product and we appreciate that. One of the real competitive differentiators of Survey Monkey is our design principle.

We’ve collected over 50 billion answers from users and customers over the last nineteen years. It helps inform how do we design our product to be intuitive and easy to use for the two and a half to three million people every day that answer over twenty million questions on our platform. For curious individuals, to collect the feedback from the folks who you’re trying to serve, whether it be your customers or your employees. If you want to make the right call on what benefits to launch or what products to design or what campaigns to go, you need to understand who you’re surveying. Collect that feedback and integrate it with the other systems you’re using, whether it’s Slack, Microsoft, Marketo oracle. Our data seamlessly flows into the other systems that you’re using.

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Curiosity: Software that’s easy to use and helps you gather opinions and voices of people who are important to you is really powerful.


We believe that that data, good questions that are answered well by the right group of people, can help you do incredible things. I’m proud of a template we launched last year with Paradigm, a consulting firm around a path to growth and helping people deliver more inclusive environment inside the workplace. A lot of folks talk about D and I, with D being Diversity and I being Inclusion. There’s a lot of focus put on D, the numbers. How many African-Americans or Latinos? What percent of your companies are women? As important as the D is the I when you hire folks. What is the environment can you provide for them to feel comfortable, for them to feel included and for them to do the best work of their lives? The best way you can find out if you’re delivering on that promise is to ask questions.

You ask questions in your forms and I find it interesting where it goes. People have asked me this before. It might be a good place to discuss that. If you pay to have people take these assessments and it’s evenly distributed based on gender and all these things that you can pick, who are these people and how does that work? A lot of people would like to know the background on that.

We have a product called SurveyMonkey Audience. If you come to SurveyMonkey and you sign up for one of our plans and you want to do a survey of your customers or your employees, you have their emails. You write the questions, you send that survey out or you put it on your website if you don’t have the emails of the people you want to reach. For instance, maybe you want to launch a new product and you feel that Latino women would be the likeliest buyers of your product. You’re targeting Latino women in the Southwest United States who have a college degree and are interested in buying a car. If you want to reach 5,000 folks in that population, I don’t know another platform you can use other than SurveyMonkey. You come and design a set of questions and then tell us specifically who are you trying to reach based on gender, zip code, age, hobbies, lifestyle.

We can deliver you that cohort because we have the people on SurveyMonkey every day and we are able to attract certain folks to say at the end of the survey, “You should take another survey. We will get $0.50 to a charity of your choice if you take a survey.” If you’re in a survey taking note and you say, “I’d love to get $0.50 to Boys and Girls Club or The Humane Society. I’m happy to take another survey.” You then might take a survey from one of our clients. What SurveyMonkey Audience delivers is a profile of the audience that you want to reach. Folks who tend to be more honest because they’re taking survey not for money, but to get $0.50 to charity.

I wasn’t aware of exactly how you did that and the speed at which these people can take these surveys is so fast. Is that part of the reason because they’re already online doing something else.

The fact that Washington Post, New York Times, CNBC, LA Times, ESPN and Cosmopolitan are using our data in their immediate publications is because of our scale. The fact that twenty million questions are answered on our platform every day enables us to do incredibly specific things. If you’re trying to gather electoral data or data about folks who want to buy an electric car or how folks feel about a specific policy, our sheer scale enables us to find Millennials or folks in certain states that are hard to reach. That’s why we’re able to attract not only great media partners but large customers as well.

[bctt tweet=”It’s very natural to be curious and to ask questions. It exposes the best opportunities for people to speak up.” via=”no”]

Your openness and your curiosity remind me a little of Keith Krach who wrote the foreword for my book and he was chairman of DocuSign. To get to be at the level of where you are, you have to embrace a level of curiosity. What made you bring this out in your organization where a lot of other leaders didn’t even consider the importance of it? Is it the nature of what you do, since you’re asking questions all day that made you think that this is important or have you always embraced curiosity?

SurveyMonkey employs a lot of smart, curious people who aren’t arrogant and don’t feel they have all the answers. That is borne out in our products. The reason the SurveyMonkey brand is well known and beloved is that our software sits between one human being asking another human being for his or her opinion. If we’ve learned anything in this current political environment, entertainment environment, social media environment, it’s that people’s voices need to be heard. Software like ours, which is easy to use and helps you gather opinions and voices of people who are important to you, is powerful. Our products are super easy to use, but the data they deliver is rich and powerful. For me personally, the folks who work with me are often a lot smarter than me and have a lot more experience in a particular function. For me, it feels very natural to ask questions and to try to solicit input to put the brightest minds around me so we can do best by our customers. I don’t have all the answers. I never have. To me, it’s very natural to be curious. I encourage others to ask questions and expose the best opportunities for people to speak up. The way to do that is to surround yourself with smart people who share the same culture of curiosity.

You have a strong background in curiosity. You have a JD and MBA from Emory. It’s interesting to look at what all you’ve done. I know you also co-founded the California based non-profit organization Coach Art. What is that exactly?

Coach Art was named after my father, Art. He passed away from multiple myeloma way back in 1996. What we do is we provide transformative coaching lesson in the arts and athletics to kids that have chronic illnesses. My dad was in the hospital for a long time with bone marrow transplants. I saw all these brave kids in their teenage years that we’re going through leukemia or HIV or sickle cell anemia. A lot of kids that didn’t have access to taking lessons in piano, yoga, golf or ceramics. I was inspired by my dad to start a nonprofit with my friend Leah Bernthal many years ago. What we do is we recruit coaches and teachers who were willing to donate their time to work with kids with chronic illnesses and teach them a session of lessons in any of dozens of art categories. Then we recruit primarily low-income kids through child life therapists, doctors, nurses at hospitals. They are kids that don’t have opportunities and privilege to work with private teachers. I’m proud to say we have 2,000 kids across California engaged in almost 20,000 lesson hours every year. It’s a neat organization that delivers transformative experiences for some of the bravest kids I’ve ever met.

Your work inspires me. I know that you have quite a growing company. It went public in 2018. What future predictions are you making in the next couple of years that are going to hold for Survey Monkey?

For us, the strategy is quite clear. This is a multi-multibillion-dollar global opportunity. Software is going to transform the way that organizations gather intel and data to make better decisions about products they launched, the services they offer, market research. These are massive markets that have largely been driven by offline businesses. We’re trying to help companies, organizations, hospitals, educational institutions, small businesses, gather better data and intel on their customers and employees to deliver better customer experiences, better employee experiences.

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Curiosity: Developing curiosity could foreseeably be the next movement to enhance human performance.


We’ve been around for a long time and we have a massive global footprint of users inside these organizations, but we feel like it’s still very early days. As a company, we only did $254 million in revenue in 2018. We are just a single digit percentage of the overall market opportunity for us. Our business is about 36% international and that’s going to grow at a faster rate than our domestic business. It’s about how do we sell upmarket into these organizations where we already have a lot of users, continue to expand internationally and continue to drive our team’s product which we launched a few months ago. We’ve got a lot of growth ahead and it’s all about execution in Survey Monkey.

It looks like you’ve got an amazing company and I’ve been very happy with everything I’ve ever experienced working with you and your organization. It was so nice of you to come on to share your story. I wonder if you wanted to share any way to reach you or website or anything else.

Diane, it’s an honor to speak with you. I know you’ve had a lot of guests who are much more successful than I am. It’s a pleasure to be here. If you ever want to come by to Survey Monkey, we’d love to welcome you to speak to our employees. For all your audience, go to and get a rich overview of our products. We’ve got a lot of different pricing plans to accommodate all different kinds of individuals and organizations. You can see us grow on the web, as well as our mobile app on IOS and Android. This is a product that has been refined to meet the needs of curious human beings across the world. I look forward to adding new customers and continue to launch new products and come back and talk to you whenever you’ll have me again, Diane.

This was so much fun. Thank you. Zander. This is so inspiring what you’re doing.

I learned so much from using SurveyMonkey to get some data for my program that I was working on. I was trying to analyze the factors that hold people back from being curious. I wanted to talk about that in the last part of this show because I know I’ve been interviewed on a lot of other programs about the work I did with curiosity. I thought this would be a good show to showcase what I did with curiosity because Zander’s company is amazing at what they offer. Curiosity is important. I’d like to see more of a focus from organizations. A lot of people ask me what the Curiosity Code Index is and how it tied into the work I did for the book, Cracking the Curiosity Code. I wanted to cover that if in case anybody’s interested because we’re certifying people to become CCI or Curiosity Code Index certified. What that entails is learning about what we did to do the research behind Curiosity Code Index, what the book is about and what we can do to help organizations become more curious.

It’s important to understand the research behind it and the value that this adds to organizations because there’s so much difficulty in terms of engagement, soft skills. You name the top things that organizations struggle with in terms of critical thinking, conflict resolution, creativity, teamwork, innovation, productivity, whatever it is. It kept coming back to my research. Everything kept coming back to curiosity because curiosity is the spark that motivates drive and motivation. That’s something that a lot of people know intuitively, but they hadn’t thought about what they could do to improve curiosity. Cracking The Curiosity Code has been endorsed by some great names. I’ve been fortunate to have Steve Forbes, Ken Fisher, Keith Krach, write wonderful things about the book and the work I’ve done. It’s because we have hit on something that a lot of organizations haven’t focused on. We know that emotional intelligence is important and we know a lot of these things are important. To get to the root of what’s causing all this, we need to look at the four factors that inhibit curiosity.

[bctt tweet=”Curiosity is a critical and direct link to improving motivation and communication-based issues that challenge organizations.” via=”no”]

I found that these four factors were fear, assumptions, technology, and environment. You can use FATE to remember it is an easy acronym. What I did when I was researching this is to look at what was done in the area of curiosity. There’s quite a bit of research in terms of curiosity, but all of the assessments are measuring if you’re curious or not. I wanted to do something different. I wanted to look at what inhibits curiosity because if you can’t determine what’s stopping it, it’s hard to go forward. As great as the researches by Kashdan and Litman and some of the great authors out there, the big five factors are the openness to experience, but that also includes creativity, imagination, the pursuit of self-actualization and some other things. I wanted to narrow it down to something that looked at what can we do to make this better? Organizations care about this because of everything ties into curiosity. They’re not trained to handle this.

Developing curiosity, as Verne Harnish was so nice to say, could foreseeably be the next movement to enhance human performance. I have to agree that it’s huge. A lot of people are curious about the different types of curiosity and how it works. I want to give a little background on curiosity and I thought this was a good show to do it. You’ve got epistemic, which is internal trait curiosity and perceptual, which is external state curiosity. We’re looking more at epistemic, the internal trait curiosity because the other is like, “That’s a cool color blue. What is that?” It’s fleeting. We’re not looking at that state external so much. We’re looking at developing specific knowledge that’s goal-oriented and problem-focused. It’s the ability to get this knowledge so that we can be more innovative. That’s the real big word right now, innovations. We have many pain points though. It’s not just wanting to be innovative.

I was looking at some of the statistics. 79% of people who quit their jobs site lack of appreciation as their reason for leaving. They’re curious about how they’re doing. They want to know feedback and that’s tying into engagement. That’s a huge number. 58% of managers said they didn’t receive any management training. If you’re not receiving this training to help people to improve, that’s another reason why people are not providing solutions and they’re not asking questions. There’s a lot of those issues. People are not even reading books. We’re finding out that people are worried about their jobs being replaced. There are many issues out there. We’ve all seen the numbers, that 50% of jobs that exist now will be automated in the next twenty years or 88% of Fortune 500 firms that existed in 1955 are gone. That has caused a lot of concern with people. I believe the solution to a lot of the issues that we’re dealing with are based around improving curiosity.

I know a lot of you are consultants or you worked for large organizations. I wanted to let you know what to expect if you’re interested in becoming CCI-certified. I know a lot of HR departments are not trained. They require either outside leadership consulting or you go outside for help. How this works is our trainers come in and help organizations improve curiosity by having everybody take the Curiosity Code Index and read the book, Cracking the Curiosity Code. It’s like taking an emotional intelligence test or an engagement test where you answer simple questions. It’s just 36 questions and they get a report back that is not like what you would get if you took an EQ or some other emotional intelligence assessment. It gives you feedback on all these questions and where you stand in terms of how much fear, assumptions, technology, and environment have impacted your overall score.

In training, they go over the impact of curiosity and these factors. There are also a couple of activities that are great because the first activity is a personal strategy activity where people figure out how to overcome these four factors on their own. Then there’s another activity. It’s more of a corporate strategy where everybody in the room provides feedback to the trainer, which goes back to the employer, the leaders, to give them a strategy for overcoming all these issues that tie into curiosity. You’re getting them from the employees’ mouth. You’re getting some important feedback for that. I want to touch on some of these four factors though, because A lot of people recognize that fear can impact the ability for us to feel safe at work, to say whatever we need to say or to ask questions.

A lot of people fear competition. They’ve had bad past experiences. They have this pressure to succeed. They don’t want to jinx anything. Nobody wants to be embarrassed. They want to look like they’re competent and prepared. A lot of that ties into that. They have a fear of change. There are a lot of different things. You can have a fear of technology, for example, which is another factor. Some of these can overlap. Consider the four factors separately at first. The second factor was assumptions, which to me is that voice in your head. It’s that nagging thing that says, “I’m not going to be interested in this. I never liked it in the past. It sounds boring. It might be too much work. I don’t need to know this. There’s so much to be expected.” Think of the dialogue that people have of why they don’t want to learn something new. A lot of it is based on past experiences that they didn’t like it, but then maybe they had somebody teach it to them or talk about with them who wasn’t interesting. They didn’t like it for that reason.

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Curiosity: You got to think of how much money is being lost on poor productivity due to lack of engagement and lack of interpersonal skills.


We have to overcome this voice in our mind that does this. As I mentioned, technology is another factor. A lot of that could be because it’s doing it for us. We don’t get that foundational information of what’s behind what your echo device is looking up for you or what you haven’t calculated on your own. We don’t know a lot of the possibilities that are things that we might be interested in exploring. A lot of people have a problem with change that maybe this technology wasn’t something that they grew up with and it keeps changing and requires so much education and they don’t know where to begin. It can feel like information overload to a lot of people. That’s one of the reasons why it’s important to address technology in the training. A big factor as well is the environment. In my research, I found that all four of these are even in terms of how much they impact people. The environment is everybody. You’ve got your educators, your family, your friends, your coworkers, your peers, your bosses, you name it. All along, anybody you’ve interacted with, even social media can impact you.

When you’re young, you start off being very curious. When you’re a kid, everybody asks why? Then you get into school and they can’t answer all these questions. It limits your ability to ask a lot of that. A lot of teachers have to teach to the test. They have a curriculum. They have so many students in their classes. There are a lot of reasons why people don’t have the amount of time to answer questions as they would like to. In your family situation, you might’ve had a lot of pressure to do certain things. Maybe everybody in your family liked a certain experience, a certain job, a certain way of thinking and if you didn’t think that way you were ridiculed or something that made it very uncomfortable for you to pursue something you might have liked. We see a lot of that with friendships and peers. You want others to like you and to continue on the status quo and not rock the boat. That’s why we created this to have an understanding of why we are held back.

What’s great when you get your Curiosity Code Index result is that it spells it out for you in terms, “This is the thing that has held me back.” A lot of them you probably don’t think about. It’s great for the trainers to go through this training program that we offer at to be up to date on how to handle the action plans and all the activities that can go along with the training. Anybody could take the Curiosity Code Index. If you go to you can take it, get your report. What’s great about that report is even if you don’t go through a training program, you can do one of the activities. You can learn to create a personal action plan to set up goals, to make it measurable and to come up with the potential outcomes and support systems. If you have any potential threats, how to overcome those threats and all that. If somebody wants to go through actual corporate training, there are more involved in the training because there’s another activity as well that’s more about company practices and helping the organization as a whole.

There are different ways of doing this. You can take the assessment as an individual. You can take the assessment as part of your corporation and go through the training. You can be an HR professional, a leadership consultant and become certified to give it. There are a lot of different things that we offer on the site. I know a lot of people who have gone through the certification program love that they’re eligible for five hours of SHRM recertification credit. You get the badge and you get all this different information to show that you’re a CCI certified trainer. You get discounts on any future purchases of the CCI. There are so much marketing materials too on the site. We have workshop guides. There are editable PowerPoint presentations, white papers, marketing materials. There are all kinds of things. I wanted to set the stage so that anybody who’s thinking about doing this has a strong idea of what to expect.

There are a lot of objections out there that I like to address. You’re dealing with leaders when they might think, “Why do I need another survey? I’m already doing an engagement survey,” or something like that. The research I found on any of the issues out there: engagement, emotional intelligence, all of these things, they kept coming back to curiosity. If you’re not fixing the core issue, you’re starting in the middle and you want to start at the beginning. It takes foresight to understand all the changes that you’re going to need to foresee with AI and innovation impacts your organization. If you don’t have that foresight, if you’re not being proactive and thinking about how can I train my organizations? How can I get them to stand out? How can I make them more innovative? This is the biggest thing that has come along in a long time. That’s why I think of what Verne Harnish said. Many leaders see the importance of this.

I know that everybody’s got limited bandwidth. There is only so much time. This is a very simple assessment to take. It’s just like taking in any other assessment. It’s fifteen to twenty minutes max, hardly. It doesn’t take that long. The training is something that should be incorporated into any employee development that you’re allotting for HR training for emotional intelligence engagement. It’s not going to take that much time. You got to think of how much money is being lost on poor productivity due to lack of engagement, lack of interpersonal skills. All those things keep coming back to this. If you could develop empathy and interpersonal skills and all the things that we’re talking about under emotional intelligence, that come from asking questions, being able to paraphrase what other people say, to show you truly listen. All those things come from curiosity. I wanted to give you that background because there are many contents and information that we have on the site. I know I’ve been on many shows talking about this, but I haven’t talked about it on my own show.

I know that’s different, but I thought since we had Zander on, it would be a great area to take this time to talk about curiosity. One thing that I don’t think a lot of people realize is that they combine curiosity, motivation, creativity and a lot of words that aren’t necessarily the same and they think of them the same. You need to think of curiosity as a strong desire to know or learn something. If you think about that, that’s the match, the spark. To get the motivation, which is the reason that you have for acting or behaving in a certain way, you have to have that desire. To spark that desire, you have to look at what is overcoming that need to ask that question or to pursue that inquiry or to pursue that interest in whatever it was you might have overlooked. Once you get to that level, then you have creativity because then you can use imagination and original ideas.

That leads to innovation, creating new products and services, methods, ideas and all that. Then that leads to productivity. All of that means everybody makes more money, which is the end goal for everybody. We also want everybody to be more engaged and happier at work and like what they do. Artificial intelligence and robotics are taking over a lot of the jobs that we had in the past. Even the operator jobs of running the technology are done by technology. Everything moves up a step. You used to move up two steps now to something completely different. I don’t think a lot of people are very well aligned with what they do, to begin with. If we can get people better aligned to things they like, think about what that could do for engagement. That’s what we talk about a lot in the training courses. The second activity that we do in the training courses is how can we improve engagement, teamwork, creativity, leadership, conflict resolution, critical thinking, decision making, communication. You take all the top things that people want to fix it.

That’s what we’re working on when we do these training courses because if we can get people to look at how to develop their own curiosity, they can give great feedback. I’ve seen it in these training courses. They give wonderful feedback to the trainers and the trainers create these reports that go back to leaders. Leaders can have a whole plan right in front of them saying, “This is what your team wants,” to help them be better, to be more innovative, to be more productive, by fixing all of these issues. What I love about that activity is that it solves a lot of the issues and it does it for the trainer and the leader. It gets it right in their hands and everybody still can have their individual results as private because that’s like emotional intelligence, you may not want to share that information.

We do want the overall, “How can we fix the company as a whole,” information shared with leadership. People are much more likely to give you honest and good feedback, even though they know it will still be confidential because it will be in a report with everybody else’s feedback. If they know leaders want to see a curious workforce, if they buy into the need for change, my personal feeling and what I’ve seen through the training is that people are anxious to give feedback. The leaders who know that they need to improve their culture are open to that feedback. That’s what I hope comes from a lot of this training. There’s a reason that this book has hit such a nerve. It’s because it’s so unique and right now, we’re required reading across the globe. We’re in Africa and universities are putting it in required reading in their MBA programs for this reason because there’s nothing like it. They want to ensure that their graduates have come out with this understanding of how they can be different and how they can create a company that is ahead of the curve.

I wanted to give you that feedback on what we’re doing. That ties in well with what we talked about with Zander on the Survey Monkey. The researches I did for this, I started out doing the initial questions and all that through Survey Monkey, which is a great system. This isn’t an ad. I’m not getting paid to say this. I truly believe it. What I was able to do was to survey thousands and thousands of people to get the initial data. I wrote a peer-reviewed research article on this. This is data that has been used to show that this is a valid instrument. It’s out there. The information is in peer review journals. You can read about it. We were able to get all this information from using something simple like Survey Monkey, which is such a great tool. That’s why I was very interested in having Zander on the show because I know they focus on the importance of curiosity. Not only to Zander, but people like Keith Krach who was the great CEO chairman at DocuSign. He just stepped down from that position. He wrote the foreword for Cracking the Curiosity Code.

I picked him because he’s one of the most curious, most humble, interesting people I know. The following he has is astounding. Everybody who’s around him wants to do anything they can for him because he does everything for everybody else. He’s humble and his humility has allowed him to build this network of people who will do all kinds of things for him because he’s very open to saying he doesn’t know everything. He likes to surround himself with people who can share their knowledge with him. He’s one of the more curious people I’ve met and he wrote a great foreword for my book. I’m so grateful for that. I wanted to thank him and Steve Forbes, Ken Fisher, Verne Harnish, Sister Jenna and all the great people who wrote wonderful things about my book because it’s been a huge launch. We see an unbelievable awareness of the importance of curiosity.

It’s leading into a lot of the research I’m doing for the next book, which I’m sure I’ll use Survey Monkey again. I already have used their product for a few of my different research projects. I thank Zander for being such a great guest on the show. If you’re interested in finding out more about past episodes and people like Zander and Keith Krach and Steve Forbes and all the wonderful people we’ve had on the show, you can go to to read the shows. You can also go to Dr. Diane Hamilton Radio to hear them. We’re also on iTunes, iHeart, Roku, Echo, Google, all of the different sites that have podcasts and radio shows in addition to our AM FM 24/7 station. I wanted you to be aware of that. I enjoyed all of the conversations.

If you’ve got any questions about Cracking The Curiosity Code, the Curiosity Code Index, CCI training, anything that you want to ask me questions about, you can always contact me through my site. You can also send a note to If you’re interested in more about Cracking The Curiosity Code, it’s all at If there’s anything that you can’t find there, please contact me and I will be happy to answer any questions. I appreciate everybody’s interest. I hope that this second half of the show has answered a lot of the questions that a lot of people have sent through my site. I hope you enjoyed it and I hope you join us for the next episode of Take The Lead Radio.

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About Zander Lurie

TTL 328 | CuriosityZander Lurie is CEO of SurveyMonkey and serves on its board of directors, which he has been a part of since 2009. Under Zander’s leadership, SurveyMonkey launched its new People Powered Data platform for businesses in 2017 and became a public company in 2018. Prior to SurveyMonkey, Zander was Senior Vice President of Entertainment at GoPro; he has served on the company’s board of directors since 2016. Zander was also previously SVP of Strategic Development at CBS Corporation, via its acquisition of CNET Networks, where he served as Chief Financial Officer and Head of Corporate Development. Zander began his career in the technology investment banking group at JPMorgan, leading equity transactions and mergers and acquisitions in the Internet sector. He holds a JD and an MBA from Emory University, and a BA in Political Science from the University of Washington. Zander co-founded the California-based nonprofit organization CoachArt, which serves chronically ill children and their siblings.


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