Full transcript of entrepreneur Jason Goldberg’s TEDx Talk: How to Manufacture Fascination and Engineer Enthusiasm at TEDxRaleigh 2016 Conference.
Right click to download the MP3 audio:
Jason Goldberg – Entrepreneur
Sometimes I feel like an entitled and privileged schmuck. What’s wrong with me that in a world full of information, of stimulation, of the ability for limitless exploration, that I find myself uninspired, unengaged, unexcited about a lot of the things I do on a day-to-day basis. And maybe it’s just me. Does anybody hear or feel kind of not so excited about the things they have to do every day? Yeah, OK. Glad to know I’m not alone.
Back in 2014, I’d just given a talk in Phoenix and I was in the Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport. And I just wanted to be alone, I was very tired and I just went over and sat in a corner, this open carpeted area where nobody was there. And I laid my back against the wall that was there and opened up my own little ‘Apple Store’ around me. You guys know what that looks like. I got my MacBook Pro and my iPad and my iPhone and I’m sitting there just minding my business waiting to board my flight when all of a sudden I see one of the most terrifying things I’ve ever seen in my life. A baby — about 30 feet away from me crawling directly for me. He wasn’t by himself, his dad was there. He didn’t have like a cliff bar and a twenty-dollar rail pinned to his onesie. But I knew how this was going to play out. You guys know too. He’s going to crawl up to me and he’s going to stick out his grubby sticky, I mean, adorable precious little paws and he’s going to ruin my devices, right? I know it, I see it happening. And so all I’m doing is racking my brain saying: ‘how can I stop this child from his path of destruction without looking like an old curmudgeon, right?
And while I’m trying to figure this out, the most amazing thing happened, because that baby taught me a lesson about fascination that I may have never learned on my own. So many of us, including me before I had this run in with the baby, I think that fascination is something that comes as a result of doing something, especially something new and novel. It’s the reason we job hop and we thrill seek and we hop from relationship to relationship and even sometimes abuse drugs and alcohol is because we believe that there’s something outside of us that reengages and reignites that sense of fascination inside of us.
But what if — what if you could manufacture fascination from the inside out? What if it was a moment by moment decision, a conscious choice to be fascinated? Cultivating that ability is the key to overcome boredom and to never experience this uninspired, unexcited life that typically we do have in our lives sometimes.
So from a very young age, we learn that children are typically more creative, right? They have this kind of in-the-moment imaginative creative thinking and it’s not that they’re more fascinated because they’re naive or they’re unintelligent, because they have this capacity for fascination that we just kind of lose over time. It hasn’t been repurposed or reorganized or reengineered for this busy heavy lifestyle that we as adults have created and then drill into our own heads that that’s the way it has to be.
Dr. Stephanie Calderon, she’s an expert in childhood brain development, she said that as kids get older their capacity to be creative and imaginative is told to go take a timeout. So their newly developing rational process and the analytical mind can take center stage. And as we’ve all experienced at one point or another it can be very hard to impress us when we’re leading with our rational brain. It’s the reason as adults we need half a billion dollar Powerball payouts and nail-biting buzzer-beating basketball games and outrageous over-the-top reality shows just to get our juices flowing. And there’s nothing wrong with the rational brain but it’s the reason that there’s nothing fascinating about the chicken parm you had the other night for dinner at your local Italian restaurant because you’ve had chicken parm a thousand times. And it’s why you weren’t super engaged when your spouse came home and told you about the disrespectful thing that Stephen Accounting said because you’ve known countless Steves in your life and you know exactly what happened in that story.
And it’s why even at this moment some of you may have already decided that you either agree or disagree with what I’m saying and you tuned me out and all that’s okay. It just means your rational brain is working. I would invite you to unglazed your eyes because I am going to share something really powerful with you in a minute. But I get it. With all the demands we have from work and family and all the obligations that are always flying at us we as adults are wired for resolution, we want answers and we want them as quickly as possible. And anytime we’re in a state of uncertainty for any extended period of time where we really don’t know what’s going on, we don’t know how to wrap things up in a bow and move on, it brings up stress and anxiety and despair. And there’s nothing wrong with the rational brain. I’m not down at it, we need it. If I didn’t have my rational brain working I wouldn’t be able to form the sentences to speak to you. I wouldn’t have had the hand-eye coordination to drive here. I wouldn’t remember my wife’s birthday December 10. Brownie points.
But when your goal is to manufacture fascination, the analytical mind, it just can’t do on its own. It needs help from a different mindset, a different approach. And the great thing about this is that I don’t have to actually teach you anything, because it’s my belief that you simply need to relearn something that at some point we unlearned to get back to the point we were as kids where we can tap into manufacturing fascination on demand. It’s like if you had hardwood floors and at some point they got covered up by ugly 70 shag carpeting. The hardwood floors didn’t go anywhere. They’re lying there waiting to be rediscovered.
So how do we do that? How do we start pulling back the 70 shag carpet so we can bring out these rich beautiful hardwood floors, so we can tap back into where we were able to manufacture fascination on demand? Well I’m going to tell you, and it’s only three words. It’s possibly the only three words you need to remember from this entire talk. And although it’s only three words they can be three of the scariest words in the English language, second only to gas station sushi.
There are three words that when we say them especially as adults, that can make us feel worthless or less than or inferior and it’s not something we’re typically rewarded for saying, especially in our professional lives.
Now before I tell you, though, I do want to do a quick little exercise of somebody in the audience. Sir, you look easy. Are you easy to work with guys, come on? Have you seen a deck of cards before? Are you familiar what a deck of cards looks? Okay, great. So if I were to ask you: how many cards – on a typical deck of cards what would you say? 52, very good. And if I were to say: how many suits, like diamonds, hearts — how many suits are there in a deck of cards, what would you say? 4, fantastic. And if I were to ask you: how many Jokers there are in a typical deck of cards, what would you say? 2, beautiful. Give him a round of applause.