Work and Money
This Chief Curiosity Officer Teaches People to Ask Courageous Questions
Following your curiosity can lead to exciting things. It can prompt you to learn something entirely new or help you find ways to challenge preconceived notions. But knowing the right questions to ask is a skill that requires practice. That's why Girl Scout alumni Adina Tovell decided to turn curiosity into a small business venture.
Her consulting company, Courage to be Curious, helps people learn the art of creative questioning to help their businesses succeed in new, innovative ways.
“When I think about how this company began, I remember making a word wall of my greatest strengths, words I loved, and what people valued in how I show up in the world,” Tovell tells CircleAround. “I put them all on sticky notes and played with them … I realized that pursuing my curiosity in life has not always been easy, but it has made me who I am. It does require courage to stay true. This is how I landed on the name Courage to be Curious. And my title is chief curiosity officer.”
"Pursuing my curiosity in life has not always been easy, but it has made me who I am. It does require courage to stay true."
“You can recognize your passion because it is what you would do even if you were not getting paid. I have basically been instructionally designing since I was about 6 years old and playing school in my bedroom with my neighbor.”
She describes her business as a leadership and personal development company that cultivates reflective leadership through a process called Productive Curiosity.
One of Tovell’s most popular strategies includes Question Storming. This is a way to help businesses and individuals reach new solutions. “Rather than focusing on 'answers,' we teach people how to ask more productive questions,” Tovell says. “Questions are the key to more intentional living, more impactful leadership, and more intimate connection.”
“I have found no other tool as powerful as a thought-provoking question to transform any situation for the better,” she adds. “The truth is that most initiatives fail or underperform because of a lack of inquiry and planning. We simply don’t ask enough questions and enough of the right kind of questions to be effective.” According to her experience, this can result in missing business targets, overlooking factors that impact outcomes, and settling too quickly on a solution simply because you’re pressed for time.
“I would rather have one powerful question than 10 right answers.”
Tovell created a series of card decks that include 52 courageous questions users can use to meditate on each day of the year. The questions are meant to help users with problem-solving and creativity. They include things like, “Many of us pursue happiness without really knowing what it is. What does happiness mean to me?” and “Of all the things for which I am responsible, what have I been ignoring or avoiding?”
"I would rather have one powerful question than 10 right answers."
“I love the opportunities to be creative,” Tovell tells CircleAround. Currently, Tovell is focused on building out a series of programs focused on cultivating the inner strength and resilience of women. Her Women Leading with Productive Curiosity seminars focus on empowering women in the workplace to lead with curiosity as a strength. Tovell feels women can shift from trying to “get it right” to “living and leading with purpose and intention” by collaborating with other like-minded women, from all backgrounds and industries.
Tovell says she’d like her business to grow to be more online and e-education focused. She is optimistic about a future full of questions. “I love the infinite possibilities of learning design, immersing myself in the learning experience, and imagining the transformations of understanding, belief, and ability that can result from skillful design.”