• August 2013

How to Be Interesting (In 10 Simple Steps)

By Hope Katz Gibbs
Publisher
Be Inkandescent

Why is it important to be interesting? That’s the question author Jessica Hagy answers in her ingenious primer that offers 10 ways to live at the intersection of wonder, awe, and curiosity.

“Life moves fast, and interesting people get remembered,” explains Hagy, known for her Webby Award–winning blog, Indexed, and her cartoons that regularly appear in The New York Times.

“If you’re looking for a job, or a date, or even to make a friend, standing out has never been more important. And there’s standing out in a good way (being interesting), and there’s standing out in a bad way (being nightmare fodder).”

The seeds of the book started on Forbes.com, where she is a weekly blogger.

Her “How to Be Interesting” post went viral, attracting 1.5 million views so far, with tens of thousands of people liking, linking, and tweeting the article.

Now she’s explored and expanded the ideas that resonated with so many readers to create this one-of-a-kind book with a universal message.

Hagy’s 10 Steps include:

  • STEP 1: Go Exploring
    Talk to stangers. Roll the dice.
  • STEP 2: Share What You Discover
    Offer to help. Expand the group.
  • STEP 3: Do Something. Anything
    Go outside. Sign up.
  • STEP 4: Embrace Your Weirdness
    Get sidetracked. Capitalize on your quirks.
  • STEP: 5 Have a Cause
    Do the best good. Be the hero.
  • STEP 6: Minimize the Swagger
    Drop the titles. Admit goofs.
  • STEP 7: Give It a Shot
    Overstep your bounds. Tackle the hard stuff.
  • STEP 8: Hop Off the Bandwagon
    Question ubiquity. Crawl into niches.
  • STEP 9: Grow a Pair
    Lead the mutiny. Make a mess.
  • STEP 10: Ignore the Scolds
    Jettison toxic cargo. Learn from all examples.

Hagy’s fellow authors offer praise for her wit and wisdom:

“Jessica’s work packs an astonishing amount of insight and personality into such tight confines. … If dolphins are the second smartest animal on Earth, Jessica has to be at least in the top five.” — Jason Oberholtzer, author of, “I Love Charts”

“Insightful + subtle + wise + hilarious = this” — Noah Iliinsky, editor of “Beautiful Visualization”

“Jessica Hagy diagrams the heart, maps the world, and charts a course for the soul. Plus she’s funny as hell.” — Dave Gray, author of “Gamestorming”

We agree, and encourage you to pick up the this book as a gift for children of all ages.

  • For more insights, check out Hagy on YouTube.
  • Scroll down for our Q&A.


Jessica Hagy on the Art of Being Interesting

Be Inkandescent: How do you define interesting, and what makes a person interesting to you?

Jessica Hagy: Interesting people always have something to offer: They have ideas and anecdotes. They never stare at you blankly when you ask what’s new. Their interestingness makes them attractive. You want to be around them, instead of plotting your escape from them.

Be Inkandescent: Is it possible for someone to become more interesting, or are some people just boring?

Jessica Hagy: Most people are really interesting, though some manage to hide it well.

It really takes a lot of consistent effort to be boring. Doing the same thing, day after day, year after year, with the same people in the same place—that’s serious, masochistic dedication to the cause of boring.

Being interesting isn’t a difficult or time-consuming endeavor. Try a few new things. Show up at a few random places. Consider a few ideas. Tell a few stories. People get fat, fit, boring, and interesting the same way—one small step at a time.

Be Inkandescent: What are some common myths about what makes a person interesting?

Jessica Hagy: Beautiful people are thought to be boring, but that’s just a myth we normal people tell each other to boost our self-esteem. Honestly, good-looking people are given a lot of bonus opportunities, and so they get to have a lot of interesting, bonus experiences.

There are people who’ve traveled the world but never noticed anything and have nothing to say, and people who’ve never traveled more than an hour from the place they were born who lead absolutely fascinating lives.

Interesting people pay attention—they think the world is interesting, and that curiosity and enthusiasm reflect back on them.

Be Inkandescent: What are some of the common roadblocks to being interesting?

Jessica Hagy: General apathy, syndicated re-runs, misplaced library cards, fear of change, teaching to the test, early curfews, all-consuming materialism, arrogance, soul-numbing fatigue, no-trespassing signs, savage critiques of children’s art, pointless meetings, repetitive manual labor, conformity mandated by cult leaders and fashion editors, Ticketmaster fees, laziness, nonexistent role models, evaporating free time, and lack of introspection. That last one is brutal.

Be Inkandescent: How did you come up with the idea for the original Forbes.com piece that inspired the book?

Jessica Hagy: I was pondering business virtues—what are traits that we need to succeed in pretty much anything? And the more I thought about that, the more it all came down to being interesting.

If you’re interesting, people will remember you and want to work with you. You’ll get the call back; you’ll make the sale. And you’ll be better able to think your way out of trouble and into new territories. You’re curious; you’re not complacent.

And from there, I just started sketching out what that very powerful little adjective meant.

Click here to learn more about Jessica Hagy.

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