Learn something new every day.
Be bold. Be yourself.
Fight for what you believe in.
Do what you love. Often.
Share. Share meals. Share ideas.
Meet new people. Try new things.
Explore new places.
Make others smile.
Keep an open mind. Keep an open heart.
Do good. Be good.
Thinking, Fast and Slow
Another book by a Nobel Prize laureate. There might be a theme here.
I pre-ordered this book late last year in hopes of gaining a more complete and coherent understanding of human behavior, decisions, judgement and biases, delivered by Daniel Kahneman, a psychologist whose work has challenged the rational model of human behavior and impacted economics, public policy, medicine and politics. Mission accomplished. “Thinking, Fast and Slow” provided a coherent framework that allows me to understand my prior pieces of knowledge about human behavior beyond knowing what people will do in situation X or Y, but also understand why this happens and what might cause different behavior than expected.
Daniel Kahneman brings together biases, System 1 and System 2, Humans and Econs, framing, loss aversion, risk seeking, overconfidence and many other concepts in a thorough and coherent story about us, humans.
“Thinking, Fast and Slow” is an incredible book for anyone who is interested in understanding how humans make decisions and process information. With its numerous personal examples and scientific experiments linked in a coherent story, this book is a good guide to human behavior for people who consider humans perfectly rational and for people who have basic knowledge of behavioral economics. More importantly, with its practical advice and different techniques on when to trust intuition and how to tap into the benefits of slow thinking, this is a great self-help book.
A few of my favorite takeaways are:
- Cognition is embodied. We think with our bodies, not only with our brains.
- Familiarity is not easily distinguished from truth.
- People are unwilling to deduce the particular from the general and willing to infer the general from the particular.
- Prediction matches evaluation.
- Creativity is associative memory that works exceptionally well. (For more on this, read Jonah Lehrer’s “Imagine.”)
Up and Out of Poverty: The Social Marketing Solution
Philip R Kotler
Marketing for good.
Most people who don’t know much about marketing, and some who do know, think of marketing as promotion, not recognizing that, instead, it is a process that usually ends up with promotion. This is exactly what makes this book very helpful for nonprofit organizations, governmental agencies and businesses - it focuses on how all elements of marketing can be used for social good, not just the promotion aspect.
Imagine: How Creativity Works
While many of us have wondered about the origins, processes and secrets of creativity, Jonah Lehrer has turned this old inquiry into the topic of his new book Imagine: How Creativity Works.
Lehrer shatters the myths of muses and divine powers. He challenges our perceptions of creativity and “creative types” and demonstrates that everyone can be creative because “creativity is a catchall term for a variety of distinct thought processes” that involves a phase of research, a phase of experimentation and frustration, a moment of insight and an execution phase. A finished product is a result of multiple forms of creativity, not just a single “a-ha” moment.
“Creativity shouldn’t be seen as something otherworldly. It shouldn’t be thought of as a process reserved for artists and inventors and other ‘creative types.’ The human mind, after all, has the creative impulse built into its operating system, hard-wired into its most essential programming code. At any given moment, the brain is automatically forming new associations, continually connecting an everyday x to an unexpected y.”
Finding the right connection is what we call an insight, the term with which most strategists have a love/hate relationship. But even insights don’t occur in 0.003 seconds as we think because the brain needs to investigate all possible connections to find the one that solves the problem. I can’t think of a more appropriate scenario to use the needle in a haystack metaphor.
When we talk about our projects we tend to focus on the insight phase of the creative process and leave out the phases of research, experimentation, thinking, despair and frustration. We forget to mention the days when our projects seemed impossible to solve, when we wanted to quit, when we wanted to go to the bar and start drinking at 10 a.m. Instead we focus on the breakthrough moments because they are exciting and reaffirm the idea of the creative genius.
The irony is that most of our insights come when we stop searching for them, when we step out of the elevator or when we order a drink. These “a-ha” moments don’t solve only part of the problem. They present a complete and elegant solution to a problem that until just seconds ago seemed impossible.
“When you look at where insights come from, they come from where we least expect them. They only arrive after we stop looking at them. If you’re an engineer working on a problem and you’re stumped by your technical problem, chugging caffeine at your desk and chaining yourself to your computer, you’re going to be really frustrated. You’re going to waste lots of time. You may look productive, but you’re actually wasting time. Instead, at that moment, you should go for a walk. You should play some ping-pong. You should find a way to relax.”
The last phase of the creative process is execution, which requires a different thought process. This phase involves great attention to details, focus for a long time and commitment to create the perfect combination of different elements. The selection of the right colors, sizes, images, fonts isn’t the result of a-ha moments but of patience and attention to details. The execution process is very different from the insight moments. The creative thoughts in this phase tend to be minor and incremental — “one can efficiently edit a poem but probably won’t invent a new poetic form.”
After identifying the different thought processes and elements of creativity, Lehrer reveals the importance of embracing childlike curiosity, adopting an outsider’s perspective, collaborating with different people, daydreaming productively and learning when to wander and wonder and when to apply concentration. He unveils the secrets behind building great teams, productive companies, vibrant neighborhoods and effective schools.
Lehrer introduces us to the writing habits of Bob Dylan, the drug addictions of poets, the infusion of chemistry thinking behind the invention of new cocktails and the thinking behind Nike’s famous slogan. He explains the creative explosion in Elizabethan England and the creative processes and culture of Pixar and 3M. And this is exactly what makes Imagine an outstanding book - connecting seemingly unrelated stories and experiences, culture and human insights, people with various backgrounds and groundbreaking science, it is an epitome of creativity.
The creative process.
The reason why I travel.