I'm lucky to sit next to a lot of successful investors. Naturally, I try to rip off as much of their act as I can in order to line my own pockets, but it's not that easy.

Across the aisle, Charly Travers is ahead of the curve on stuff like Transkaryotic Therapies -- since sold to Shire Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:SHPGY) -- and Rule Breakers pick Protein Design Labs (NASDAQ:PDLI) because he knows the pharmaceutical industry like the back of his hand.

To my right, Nate Parmelee digs constantly for companies that produce ample cash flow and have the audacity to pay it out to shareholders. "Have you seen the yield on Kenneth Cole (NYSE:KCP)?" is the kind of thing he asks me half a dozen times a day. To my left, Bill Mann sees the beauty -- and profit -- in boring or downright ugly businesses like change-counting Coinstar (NASDAQ:CSTR) or Mexican rock stars Cemex (NYSE:CX).

In other words, they're a Motley lot with diverse talents and interests. But they do have one thing in common. They've got the investing frame of mind. They're observant. They're curious. And they're greedy in the right way. They've got an appreciation for companies that know how to make money, and very little slips under their radar.

This was never more apparent to me than when I came in the other morning and mentioned that I'd taken a first trip to a place called Cold Stone Creamery. It was right next door to a Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) -- to which it bore a striking resemblance -- but it was doing a heck of a lot more business. Sure, it was selling ice cream on a hot night, but the hip digs and cool flavors made this chain store look like more than a match for Berkshire Hathaway's (NYSE:BRKa) classic, but lowbrow, Dairy Queen.

Turns out my Fool colleagues had looked into it a long time ago. "Privately held," they said in unison, frowning.

So that was the end of that, but it's not the end of the story. It's just the beginning. Curiosity like theirs is the key to finding companies before the Street has recognized such companies' real worth. It's also the key to making sure these folks buy right -- or recommend that you do the same. Rest assured -- after spotting something interesting, none of them is going to lift a finger without running through the financials to see where the rubber meets the road, and neither should you.

But take a page from them. You'll be a much better investor the more you cultivate your curiosity. It'll not only bring profit to your portfolio, but it'll also make your finances a lot more fun.

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Seth Jayson is not too proud to take investment ideas from his neighbors. At the time of publication, he had no positions in any company mentioned. View his stock holdings and Fool profile here . Coinstar is a Motley Fool Hidden Gems pick, as was Transkaryotic before it was sold. Fool rules arehere.