The reason it’s not easy to copy a truly great brand is because they have put so much of themselves into the work— that there is no substitute. There is only one Banksy, one Dyson and one Disney. They each show up uniquely as brands in the world by being more of who they are.
After a decade of research, [Baptiste] Barbot has discovered that, if we are to understand the hereditary and environmental nature of creativity, we need to think of creativity as a constellation of factors that come together in the right way, at the right moment—“maybe a bit of intelligence, some associative thinking, some divergent thinking, and then some personality traits, like the tendency to take risks, your motivation, and your specific interests.” he said. “These factors are partly genetically based, and, of course, partly environmental.”
Here’s a polite person’s trick, one that has never failed me. I will share it with you because I like and respect you, and it is clear to me that you’ll know how to apply it wisely: When you are at a party and are thrust into conversation with someone, see how long you can hold off before talking about what they do for a living. And when that painful lull arrives, be the master of it. I have come to revel in that agonizing first pause, because I know that I can push a conversation through. Just ask the other person what they do, and right after they tell you, say: “Wow. That sounds hard.”
What are the qualities that make a work “relatable,” and why have these qualities come to be so highly valued? To seek to see oneself in a work of art is nothing new, nor is it new to enjoy the sensation. Since Freud theorized the process of identification—as a means whereby an individual develops his or her personality through idealizing and imitating a parent or other figure—the concept has fruitfully been applied to the appreciation of the arts. Identification with a character is one of the pleasures of reading, or of watching movies, or of seeing plays, though if it is where one’s engagement with the work begins, it should not be where critical thought ends. The concept of identification implies that the reader or viewer is, to some degree at least, actively engaged with the work in question: she is thinking herself into the experience of the characters on the page or screen or stage.
But to demand that a work be “relatable” expresses a different expectation: that the work itself be somehow accommodating to, or reflective of, the experience of the reader or viewer. The reader or viewer remains passive in the face of the book or movie or play: she expects the work to be done for her. If the concept of identification suggested that an individual experiences a work as a mirror in which he might recognize himself, the notion of relatability implies that the work in question serves like a selfie: a flattering confirmation of an individual’s solipsism.
In this 99U talk, bestselling author Tony Schwartz issues a challenge: The world is full of intractable problems like climate change that require new and creative thinking. So how can we use the creative process to take on some of the more serious obstacles of our lives and world? First, we need to be at the top of our collective creative games — and that means fully understanding the creative process.
Schwartz shares the five often counter-intuitive steps of the creative process. Most important, says Schwartz, is that we manage our energy and take time apart from our day-to-day to solve tough problems. As he says, “The place where you get your best ideas is not when you are trying to get the best ideas."