That’s Intriguing #113: If You Want to Succeed, You Must Intrigue

 If You Want to Succeed, You Must Intrigue

“We’re all in a race to remain relevant.” – Eleanor Clift, reporter for The Daily Beast and CNN

Most international conferences I’m invited to attend are filled with amazing people; yet some of them don’t seem to understand the importance of being relevant, much less intriguing.

Picture the scene: a packed ballroom with a thousand people. Everyone is eagerly awaiting the opening panel which features an astronaut, two senators, award-winning scientists, CEO’s and several rock-star entrepreneurs.

The topic?  “Share your most important life lesson” … and oh, by the way, you’ve got two minutes.

The first panelist spoke, “Exercise, eat right, take care of your health.”  Agreed. The second? “Keep a gratitude journal.”  Agreed. Next, “Give back.” Agreed. Next?  Well, you can fill in the blanks, can’t you?

A half hour into the program, I looked around. Hardly anyone was paying attention.  People were texting, checking email, anything but listening.

How could this be?  Here we were, in the presence of greatness (really, everyone on that panel was an icon in their industry), yet somehow these brilliant individuals were coming across as, dare I say it, boring.

Everything they were saying was true; it just wasn’t new.

Until this guy with bright red hair and Harry Potter glasses took the microphone.

“Do you know the difference between pleasure and happiness?” he asked. “Figure it out, wrap your life around it, and you’ll know true happiness.”

Boom. Heads snapped up.  Side conversations stopped.  He had already passed the microphone to the next panelist, but we were all thinking the same thing, “Keep talking!”

So who was this guy?  Stever Robbins, the “Get It Done Guy” and host of a top-rated business podcast that has been downloaded 17 million times on iTunes.

What made us sit up and take notice? Instead of same-old, same-old “wah-wah-wah” INFObesity, he introduced a thought-provoking question that caught our attention. He catalyzed a conversation that made us want to continue the conversation.

As a result, every single time I saw Stever for the rest of that conference, he was surrounded by people.  That’s the R.O.I. of intrigue. Its influence doesn’t stay in the room. Intrigue has legs and a long tail.

When you pleasantly surprise people and introduce something startlingly relevant, they relate to you, remember you, want to be around you, and voluntarily follow up with you.

INTRIGUE is the Key to Connecting

When E.M Forester was asked the secret to life, he said two words, “Only connect.”

The good news is anyone, including you, can learn to connect if you learn how to “arouse interest and cause curiosity,” which is how Webster’s defines “intrigue.”

But there’s more to intrigue than that.  As important as it is to be able to arouse interest and cause curiosity in others; it’s equally important to be interested in and curious about others.

Being intriguing and being intrigued are two sides of the coin of connection.  Earning attention and paying attention are the means; mutually-meaningful connection is the goal.

Why Aren’t We More Intriguing?

“People can’t believe you if they don’t know what you’re saying, and they can’t know what you’re saying if they’re not listening to you, and they won’t listen to you if you’re not interesting.” – advertising icon Bill Bernbach

A program participant approached me after an INTRIGUE presentation and said, “Until your program, I never gave much thought to this concept of ‘intrigue,’ but you’ve convinced me it’s the key to motivating other people to care about what we care about.  Yet the communication I see at work is the opposite of intriguing.  It’s confusing, boring and way too l-o-n-g. Why do you think that is?”

After researching, writing and speaking about this topic, and interviewing thousands of people about what makes us intriguing (or not), I believe it comes down to four reasons:

1.       No awareness

2.       No motivation.

3.       No effort.

4.       No process.

The good news, all those are ‘fixable.’ It’s not like being intriguing is a genetic trait we’re born with – or not.  It’s not an elusive characteristic only a fortunate few have.  It is an acquirable skill if  you decide it’s important and if you commit to integrating the eight steps to INTRIGUE in your daily interactions.

INTRIGUED?  Email us at and we’ll send you the first step to creating interest, earning attention and winning respect for your priority projects.  We look forward to hearing from you.



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