The one secret to having enriching conversations

September 2008.

I don’t remember the exact date, but I do know it happened in the month of September 2008.

Little did I know that a passing conversation with my friend Timo Wadhavan of Heartwood Studios will unlock the secret to have enriching conversations at will.

Timo shared a wise old saying –

A tourist will always find what he or she is looking for.

I reflected on that one saying for several weeks after that.


One day, magic happened.

When I applied that saying to a different content.

I discovered something that changed my life.

I discovered that the secret to having enriching conversations was to expect brilliance by default.

No, I was not expecting brilliance from me.

But, I started expecting brilliance by default from the other person.

The magic started unfolding.

I became more curious than ever.

I turned into an eternal student.

More importantly, I started listening. Really listening.

I didn’t know when exactly brilliance would show up.

I had to be prepared.

I knew that waiting was necessary.

I was prepared to wait right until the end of the conversation.

That was OK.

Because, if I find a brilliant nugget in every single conversation, I will have no problem in enriching myself in the process.

I literally became a connoisseur of brilliance.

Timo talked about the tourist finding what he was looking for. I became that tourist who looked for brilliance in every conversation.

Boy… what a journey it has been.

I did find brilliance.

Boatloads of it.

In almost every conversation.


I was looking for it.

It got better as time progressed.

I had very less to speak in a conversation.

Very little.

Most of my time was spent listening.

When I did get my opportunity to speak, I started choosing my words carefully.

I chose to speak only if it was absolutely necessary.


My focus was to get back to listening.

How else would I find that brilliance by default if I were not ready and listening?

More magic happened during the process.

When the other person knew that I was “truly” listening in a mood of wonder, he or she opened up more – bringing out their best.

Last, but not the least…

I know I still have a long way to go, but I am learning and making progress every single conversation.

Try for yourself and I am confident that you will be glad you did!


Quick Announcement: If you are around San Francisco, please join me at this event organized by TiE. Here is the link:

The Triple Edge: Uncommon elements for everyday growth