Claude Shannon: Why Curiosity Is Critical To Your Success

Claude Shannon, considered as the Einstein of the Information Age, made many contributions to science and society during his lifetime.

That thing you’re holding in your hand or that’s sitting on your lap, reading these very words, are made possible by Claude Shannon.

Shannon was an American mathematician and electrical engineer known as “the father of information theory”. He is also known for inventing digital circuit design theory in 1937, when he was only 21 years old. He’s considered as one of the greatest inventors in modern history.

I often wonder, “what drives these great minds?” Is it the recognition, money, contribution, praise?

Jimmy Soni and Rob Goodman, authors of Rome’s Last Citizen, just published a book about the life of Claude Shannon.

In A Mind At Play, Soni and Goodman mention a quote by Shannon that illustrates his motives:

“I don’t think I was ever motivated by the notion of winning prizes, although I have a couple of dozen of them in the other room. I was more motivated by curiosity. Never by the desire for financial gain. I just wondered how things were put together. Or what laws or rules govern a situation, or if there are theorems about what one can’t or can do. Mainly because I wanted to know myself.”

Sure, there are many great minds who were motivated by money and fame. Thomas Edison comes to mind. He was a great inventor. But he was also a great businessman with a good sense for self-promotion.

Shannon was different. Curiosity motivated him. And Shannon’s life shows that you can achieve success with nothing more than curiosity.

I interviewed Jimmy Soni and Rob Goodman about Shannon for my podcast, The Darius Foroux Show. When we were talking about curiosity, Jimmy, who’s the former managing editor at Huffington Post, and current editor at Observer, wondered:

“When’s the last time we picked something apart to find out how it works?”

He makes a great point. And you don’t have to pull all your devices apart right now. You can easily apply curiosity to your professional life.

When you pursue career and business opportunities that you’re curious about, you’ll have more energy to figure it out. Because when things get tough, you need a reason to keep going. Curiosity is a great source of internal drive.

That was also true for Shannon. He didn’t need external motivation to wake up in the morning. He had his natural curiosity.

I must admit that I’ve done a lot of work because I wanted to earn a good paycheck. And I also can’t say that I won’t do that in the future. However, I can say that I’ve always pursued topics that interested me when it came to education and personal growth.

That’s why I was able to write almost 200 articles about productivity, business, entrepreneurship, overcoming procrastination, dealing with fear, etc.

I’m truly interested in those topics — I don’t pursue them because I believe it will make me rich. Just talking and reading about those things fires me up. That’s why I don’t need motivation.

Listen To The Full Interview With Jimmy Soni and Rob Goodman:

You’ll learn:

  • How you can use curiosity to achieve success and overcome obstacles
  • A simple strategy to find new opportunities
  • Why forming positive habits will help you finish anything
  • What Radical Simplification means (Claude Shannon’s strategy to get better results)
  • Why having no ego leads to more happiness
  • How you can use distractions to achieve more

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Books we mention in the podcast:

 

 

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2 comments

  1. Darius,
    Indeed. How much poorer and behind will our world not be for want of people (individuals), brimming with curiosity?
    We tinker and read and research and explore to broaden our horizons, our vistas, our minds and inspire those around us.
    Yes, the more curious we are, the more we discover and design new products and concepts (and make money in the process.) But, if our motivation is merely fame and fortune, we’re missing a big chunk of the purpose of our lives.
    Like writing—how can we not write?
    Curiosity: how can we not be curious?

    Thanks for the post & podcast, Darius!

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