Game night meets group therapy

100 Inspiring Voices | Episode #24 | Michael Tennant | Game night meets group therapy


When do you feel out of place? Is there anything too serious to be joked about? What are you willing to fight for and why?

In this conversation, I speak with Michael Tennant, Founder of Curiosity Lab and the creator of Actually Curious, a hugely successful card game that’s designed to spread empathy.

We speak about Michael’s childhood, how he coped with the loss of his two older brothers, and the power of a good cry.

We also talk about why the 2016 election pushed him to leave Corporate America and how he created a product that’s been featured by The Today Show, The New York Times, Beyonce, and others.


3:15 – “I’m really grateful today for knowing how to, for one of the first times, how to say I love my self. I’m obsessed with myself right now…. I really believe in my potential… part of not being able to arrive at that sooner was being so young.”

5:45 – “Often times – what I’ve learned now – is usually when people inflict pain or inflict doubt it’s usually something that’s reflective of what’s going on in them. When you don’t know yourself you don’t have that rooting.”

6:30 – “As a boy, in particular, size matters. I didn’t break five feet until junior year in high school.”

7:15 – “Actually Curious is a conversation card game and a movement to spread empathy. But it was originally created with some sharper language. It was meant to be a Trojan Horse to teach people how to arrive at their own biases, gently.”

8:00 – “The closer you are to the most privileged archetype in your society, the more blind you are to the experience of those around you.”

12:00 – “I woke to learn that Donald Trump had been elected. There was just sadness and hysteria around me. At that point, I made a choice to start this belief in myself that the things that I had skills in – in storytelling, in partnership development – having that be values driven and wanting to do good for people, versus take away from their lives. That I could actually channel that toward making sure he didn’t get re-elected.”

18:15 – “It allows people to be seen. I used to think it was about seeing other people, and it is that. But it also gives you a platform and forum to be heard.”

22:00 – “Sadly, losing [my brothers] is what put me into that hyperwork of understanding where I didn’t love myself and what was missing.”

23:30 – “The reason why people believe in this thing, in many ways, is because of my story, and because I believe in it so deeply.”

26:00 – “I figured out to take it day by day, and I did what felt natural to me and then I strengthened my ability over time to show up for myself.”

26:30 – “I think in many ways, this loss has brought about parts of my character that I didn’t really know fully existed. I didn’t really know that I was a leader like that.”

28:00 – “You can’t pour from an empty cup.”

28:30 – “I learned how to strengthen my ability to slow down and listen to myself, and not listen to the projections that people tell me.”

29:00 – “I actually feel really good with a good cry. I feel good to let that go. And I feel good that now I have the confidence that I can show up with another man – a man who is my fraternity brother – and do that and still feel very much the same. I still love myself.”

32:30 – “I’m a strong proponent that when you love yourself you show up better for everyone else.”


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