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October 11th, 2009 · 4 Comments · Creativity, Entrepreneurship, Habits, Videos

The original source of these videos  is The Stanford Technology Ventures Program (STVP) Entrepreneurship Corner is a free online archive of entrepreneurship resources for teaching and learning. I highly recommend you to visit this fantastic site because it has tons of good podcasts and videos on various topics mostly around entrepreneurship and startup experiences.

In this inspiring lecture, Tom Kelley, general manager at the design firm, IDEO, presents five core practices that enhance creativity. He explains us how to reinforce our creative potential for life.

Podcast: Listen to the entire talk (MP3, 58min)


Main message: “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up”Pablo Picasso. What Picasso was talking about is that when you get older the responsibilities and the circumstances can take away your creativity. We can reinforce our abilities and prevent that from happening. We can fight against those forces as a way to stay young at heart.


Tom Kelley talks about one of his favorite books on creativity and innovation by Gordon Mackenzie, called “Orbiting the Giant Hairball”.

Main message: It’s OK to be an artist. It’s OK to be an innovator. It’s OK to be a design thinker even if it causes people around you to raise their eyebrows.

  • Tom’s mental and behavioral habits that will help you to be an innovator for life:


In this video clip Tom encourages us to become hyper-aware of our environment, and to notice the common and everyday with new eyes to capture new fresh ideas.

Main message: “Think like a traveler” is: When you go to a distant city there’s a piece of your brain that is turned up on high. You are in this hyper aware state where you notice everything. You should try to turn up that part of your brain all the time. If you can do that, if you can have a higher state of awareness you will spot more opportunities. If you can observe more, if you can learn more, that gives you power.

Marcel Proust said one: “The real act of discovery consists not in finding new lands but in seeing with new eyes.”


Tom shares a case study that demonstrates the opportunities that can arise when designers, innovators, and entrepreneurs see with fresh eyes.

Main message: “Wow! Kids don’t need little skinny toothbrushes. Kids need big fat toothbrushes. Let’s make a big fat squishy toothbrushes.” Use your powers of observation. Have that part of your brain turned up as high as you can.


Take risks frequently, and be prepared in case the resulting action fails to meet your expectations. Fail forward, and there will be learning from your mistakes along the way.

Main message: If you treat life like an experiment , you got to be prepared for some stuff not to work out. “I haven’t failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that do not work.” Thomas A. Edison. He was willing to tolerate lots of  failures and it worked out pretty well for him in the end.


“Attitude of wisdom” is a healthy balance between confidence in what you know well and distrusting enough of what you don’t know to keep yourself thirsty for more knowledge.

Main message: Don’t rest in your laurels and keep learning more at all times.


“It’s not what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that ain’t so.” Mark Twain. Tom tells the story of retailer Best Buy, and tracks their huge investment and acquisition of a large CD retailer which they thought was a good idea – except for that their target market had stopped buying music and started downloading MP3’s instead.

Main message: Creative minds have to cultivate a dedication to continuous learning.


Tune your left brain, but don’t overlook the opportunities to let your right brain make its mark. “A Whole New Mind” by Daniel H. Pink talks about bringing your right brain into play. Guy Claxton in “Hare Brain, Tortoise Mind” says the hare brain is the one that you know. The brain you can focus and you can concentrate with, it’s under your direct control. But there is another part of your brain that is not under your direct control and it’s smarter than the hare brain: the “tortoise mind”. Your tortoise mind is working on things in the background all the time. If you work at it, you can assign little tasks to the tortoise mind.

Main messages: 1- Use your whole brain. 2- Assign little tasks to your tortoise mind and let it work finding a way to take some time to daydream.

DO WHAT YOU LOVE (5 min 31)

“Look, this is really simple. Do what you love not because you just want to be self interested. Do it because you will be better at it. I love wine and so I have a winery and I think it’s pretty good. I love food and so I have a restaurant business and I have a pasta business.” Francis Ford Coppola.

Tom quotes Jim Collins, author of two great books “Built to Last” and “Good to Great”,  who identifies a Venn diagram in every career path – the overlapping intersection of what you’re good at, what you’re born to do, what people will pay you to do, and finding a happy group of co-workers with whom to work.

Main messages: 1- Do what you love because you will be better. You will be willing to put in the extra time, the extra mental energy because you love it. 2- Just because you are good at something doesn’t mean you should do it. What are you born to do? When are you the happiest? Tom suggests us to keep a notebook tracking the happiest moments in life to discover our own true passions.

BOOKS cited in Tom’s lecture:

– On creativity and innovation:

– On using your whole brain:

– On excellence and success:

What do you think about these mental habits explained above? What would you add to that list? Please, share your thoughts and ideas.


If you liked this article, please share it on Twitter, Digg or Stumble Upon and help me to spread its amazing message. I would appreciate it 🙂

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4 Comments so far ↓

  • RyanNo Gravatar

    Another awesome post David. I’ve scanned it and will bookmark for future reference.

    Our creativity is the expression of God. Those who honor their creative urges prosper. Dishonor them and you’ll live a drone life.
    .-= Ryan ´s last blog ..Ryan Biddulph Quotes: Limits =-.

  • David | ilcantone.comNo Gravatar

    Thanks Ryan for bookmarking it, you won’t regret it 🙂 Tom Kelley is an amazing speaker.

    Your thought is very profound. Thanks for sharing it.

  • HeshamNo Gravatar

    Great post, I liked the videos because I relax and watch!

  • David | ilcantone.comNo Gravatar

    Hi Hesham and wlecome to

    Yes you’re right: Is there anything better than watching amazing videos full of wisdom? This is the great thing about technology-> We can see this Stanford lecture from home, having an avocado milkshake :). No, seriously, this is incredible, we are very fortunate.

    Thanks Hesham for your comment.

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