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Are You Curious?

I was excited when I heard the announcement that Raleigh had received yet another #1 rating from Forbes Magazine as the “Best Place for Business and Careers.” Lately Raleigh has been praised with all kinds of similar accolades that reflect the many elements that make this city great. The strong economic growth in North Carolina’s Triangle Region over the last few years in particular has been a catalyst for much of this buzz. So, what has caused this economic growth?

Some say it is the great universities of Duke, UNC, and NC State. Others say it is the Research Triangle Park, or NCSU’s Centennial Campus, while others point to the affordability of housing, proximity to the beach and mountains, or generally good weather. My friends who visit the Triangle from California always comment how “green” things are here. The list goes on and each of these attributes is no doubt a factor in making Raleigh a wonderful place to live and work. But at the end of the day, I would argue that the true economic engine for the Triangle is having an above average number of people living here who are curious.

After an exciting career working for some of the world’s best and most successful technology companies, I have learned a few things about economic growth. Though I have been based in the Triangle throughout my career, I worked extensively all over the world. During my travels, I met with future software engineers at the India Institute of Technology in Mumbai, future MBA’s at Tsinghua University in Beijing, and future computer scientists at Queensland University in Brisbane. The one thing that impressed me about these students more than anything else was their curiosity. They wanted to know about my company, my family, about living in America. And when I explained where I lived, they even asked about Michael Jordan. I guess all of us are a little curious, but some are more curious than others. And I would argue there is a strong correlation between curiosity and economic growth.

HQ Raleigh, American Tobacco Underground, the Think House, and other entrepreneurial birthing centers here in the Triangle are all about creating companies around ideas that solve problems. But where do these ideas come from? They come from people who are curious. People who just have to scratch the itch— people who take risks in search of the most innovative solutions possible.

In fact, it was curiosity that gave the founders of our company the courage to leave our great careers at Red Hat and start New Kind. Now when we work with clients, we cultivate that sense of curiosity about their businesses. We want to know their people, hear the stories they tell, understand their biggest challenges, and help them achieve their greatest goals. We love to dive deeply into problems to discover the solutions that will help our clients most. I guess there is a little Christopher Columbus in all of us!

I am excited to be living and working here in Raleigh, and I believe that as long as the Triangle continues to value curiosity, the economic engine here will continue to drive our community forward. Let the awards keep coming!

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