Allen Gannett: You Don’t Have to Be a Genius to Be Creative – The Jordan Harbinger Show

Check out The Jordan Harbinger Show Episode Page & Show Notes

Key Takeaways

  • Creativity is a skill you can develop
    • But – If you want to develop any skill, creativity included, YOU HAVE TO PUT IN THE WORK
  • Great ideas are a blend of the familiar and the novel – they’re familiar enough to be safe and novel enough to be interesting
    • People want a balance of risk and reward (new but familiar)
  • “If you want to connect the dots, you have to have dots to connect”
    • To have more aha moments, you need to consume and gather prior knowledge (so read… A LOT)
  • Great creatives tend to spend 3-4 hours a day consuming content related to their niche
    • Why? – They’re always curious and interested in learning more
  • Different skills take different lengths of time to master – world-class is subjective, it isn’t always 10,000 hours

Intro

Books Mentioned

Creativity: Gift or Skill?

  • Research shows that creativity is an actual skill and not so much an innate gift
    • Even in longitudinal studies where researchers follow kids with genius-level IQs for their entire lives, they find that those kids are no more likely to be big household names than the average child
  • Creativity is a learnable and nurturable skill – this is consensus from academic researchers
    • But many people still believe creativity is something you’re born with
      • People like the idea that some are just gifted in the realm of creativity because it gives them an excuse to perhaps not work as hard
  • If you want to develop any skill, creativity included, YOU HAVE TO PUT IN THE WORK
    • You need to practice, but make sure you’re doing deliberate practice 
      • Your brain is developing thousands of new brain cells every day (it’s called neurogenesis) and those cells go to the part of your brain that are most active 
        • Studies have found that the part of the brain dedicated to visual/spacial navigation is larger in taxi drivers than bus drivers (this is pre-GPS) Why? – Taxi drivers always drive new routes while bus drivers drive the same route every day

Allen’s Book: The Creative Curve

  • The first part of Allen’s book covers the science and history of creativity while the second shares interviews with creative greats (artists, musicians, business icons, etc.)
  • The left brain is where you perform logical processing and store definitions of concepts (and you’re very conscious of doing so)
  • In the right part of the brain, you perform more distant processing such as coming up with metaphors and puns (people are less conscious of this part of the brain even though it’s always working)
    • Only when a person gets a sudden insight does a right brain idea “pop” into their consciousness 
      • A lot of “aha” moments come while you’re in the shower or walking because the left hemisphere of your brain is subdued and you become more aware of your right brain.
        • Jordan keeps a waterproof notepad (Aqua Notes) in his shower for when he gets an aha moment
      • Drugs and alcohol also subdue your left brain (however, going for a run will have a similar result)
  • To have more aha moments, you need to consume and gather lots of prior knowledge
    • Learn a lot about a little, not a little about a lot
      • As an example – Ted Sarandos, the chief content officer for Netflix, worked at a video rental store as a kid and would watch every movie in the store 
        • “If you want to connect the dots, you have to have dots to connect”
    • Content consumption gives you the fuel for aha moments
      • Reading is also another way to do this

More Creative Advice

  • Really successful creatives spend a lot of time studying and imitating great works of art
    • Examples:
      • Ben Franklin became a great writer by analyzing the best newspaper articles and examining how they were composed
  • Great ideas are a blend of the familiar and the novel – they are familiar enough to be safe and novel enough to be interesting
    • The first Star Wars was a classic Western film… but in space
    • The iPhone was an iPad…. with a phone
      • People want a balance of risk and reward (new but familiar)
  • When brainstorming new ideas, it’s important to get feedback
    • When Ben & Jerry’s wants to create a new flavor, they start with a long list of possible ideas that are emailed to their subscribers and then the favorites go into limited production for further taste testing
  • Great creatives spend 3-4 hours a day consuming content related to their niche
    • These creatives become obsessive in their niche and go very, very deep (niche trade magazines, conferences, podcasts, etc,) – Great creatives are always curious and interested in learning more
      • Study the structure of the content you’re consuming, don’t just be a passive consumer
  • Different skills take different lengths of time to master (world-class is subjective, it isn’t always 10,000 hours)
    • To become a world-class piano player, it takes about 25,000 hours of practice because the best pianists start extremely young
    • To become a world-class digit memorizer (people that try to memorize as many numbers of pi as possible), it takes about 400 hours of practice
      • Remember, you need deliberate or purposeful practice, not general practice – You won’t become a professional basketball player by just playing pickup, you need to deliberately practice layups, foul shots, 3-pointers, dribbling, etc.
  • Before you can break the rules, you must first master them
    • People don’t like things that are radically new, they prefer things that are somewhat new
  • It takes a creative community to raise a creative individual
    • The best creatives find a collaborator who isn’t all that similar to them and compliments their weaknesses
    • You also need a promoter: music bands have opening acts, startups have a board of advisors
      • You need other people who have credibility to share your work with others
    • You also need to find a community or cluster of people pursuing the same art as yourself – spend time with them
      • A lot of startups reside in Silicon Valley
      • A lot of actors reside in Los Angeles
      • A lot of artists reside in the Village in NYC

Additional Notes

  • Many creative greats participate in reverse-mentorship where they have someone much younger than themselves teach them new things
    • Why? – You want to surround yourself with new and interesting ideas and stay relevant with the current trends
  • When sending cold emails use Hunter.io to find email addresses and be sure to aim for high-level individuals – The people at the top tend to be much nicer and have more free time than mid-level employees
    • Try to keep emails short, display some kind of social proof, and have a small ask (i.e. “Can we talk for 5 minutes?” or “Can I ask you one question?”)
      • Treat people professionally, but don’t overdo it – a lot of successful people like to keep things somewhat casual because it makes the social dynamic more comfortable
      • Read A Curious Mind by Brian Grazer to learn more about how to connect with new people
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