Reasons to be Creative 2013 in Brighton, UK is probably my favorite event! John Davey, the conference organizer is great and his team is outstanding. Also, the many attendees have been such a pleasure to talk to! I was honored and humbled to be asked to do the keynote and thought I’d share my research and slides.
How to be Creative
Drink. Getting tipsy can make you more creative.
Have Friends. Kevin Dunbar in early 1990s, monitored and interviewed researchers in four molecular biology labs. The most important ideas happened in meetings of a dozen or so researchers, not in the lab itself.
“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things.” Steve Jobs
Have Enemies. Anger fuels creativity. The research comes from a trio of European professors who studied the habits of over 100 creative professionals. They asked these creatives to keep a diary of their emotions for a week. At the beginning and the end of every day, the professionals would rate their level of positive emotions (inspiration, excitement, alertness) and their level of negative emotions (stress, hostility, guilt). Interestingly, the most productive participants reported positive emotions at the end of the day, but also noted that they started their most productive days with negative emotions. In other words, they channeled their anger into their work.
Move to Brighton. #6 most creative places to live. Brighton has a high density of businesses involved in media, particularly digital or “new media”, and since the 1990s has been referred to as “Silicon Beach”. According to the Boho Britain creativity index developed by United States economic regeneration expert Richard Florida, Brighton and Hove ranked sixth of 66 British new cities when measured against the three criteria of his index. Florida states the index measures the appeal of cities to the new “creative class” and is an indicator of a city’s health.
Think Like a Child. In an often-quoted study recounted in a recent TEDx talk, noted creativity researcher George Land tells of being asked by NASA back in the 1960s to develop a way to assess the creativity of its engineers. He did and it worked, so he decided to try it on some children. He used the same assessment he developed for NASA to test the imaginative capabilities of children ages 3-5, who were enrolled in the early Head Start program. His astounding finding was that 98-percent of those children scored as creative geniuses, compared to just 2% of adults. He tested the same kids again at five year intervals and found a dramatic drop in that creativity, down to only about a third of them scoring that high by age 10, and down to just 12% by age 15. Land observed that we don’t learn to be creative; on the contrary, we start out creative and learn to be uncreative!
“The creative is the child who has survived.” Ursula K. Le Guin
Be Just a Little Bit Crazy. It does help. But just know you’re crazy. According to one study, 87% of famous poets experienced psychopathology whereas only 28% of the eminent scientists did so, a figure close to the population baseline (Ludwig, 1995).
“The difference between a madman and me is that I know I’m crazy.” Salvador Dalí
Steal. Nothing comes from nothing. All creative works are built on what came before. There’s an economic theory out there that if you take the incomes of your five closest friends and average them, the resulting number will be pretty close to your own income. I think the same thing is true of idea incomes. You’re only going to be as good as the stuff you surround yourself with.
“Immature poets imitate, mature poets steal” T. S. Eliot
“Everything that needs to be said has been said. But, since no one was listening, everything must be said again.” André Gide
Steal from Adobe? We have a ton of open source initiatives. Steal those. Not our apps. 🙂
“What is originality? Undetected plagiarism.” William Ralph Inge