The creative process used by every successful creative in history, A Step-By-Step Guide

This is the transcript of Cultivating Creativity, episode 9 of our Individuate podcast. You can listen to the episode on the player below or on your favourite podcast player.

Auguste Rodin was born into a working-class family in Paris in 1840.

For someone who went onto be known as the father of modern sculpture, Rodin lived an unexceptional childhood. Nothing from his earliest years would suggest that he would go on to become world-renowned and respected.

After failing to excel academically, he was sent away to boarding school, however visual impairment and Rodin’s shy nature didn’t suit boarding school, and allegedly, he could only barely read and write by the time he left boarding school at the age of 14.

Rodin had begun drawing at the age of 10, and upon deciding that straight academics wasn’t his best port of call.

He was enrolled in Ecole Imperiale de Dessin et Mathemathiques (or the imperial college of mathematics and design), a school that served to educate the future designers and artisans of France.

It was there he was able to more fully explore his artistic side and begin to crystalise his dream of becoming a world-famous sculptor.

It was not all smooth sailing from there for the ambitious Rodin.

After failing to get into the prestigious Ecole des Beaux-Arts 3 times, each time making his application by entering his sculptures into the entry competition.

He was faced to come to terms with the fact that his dream may not turn out as planned.

Entry requirements were apparently not particularly high for people with his previous education, so the rejection was a considerable setback.

Now I think it’s important to note here too that there’s some speculation about why Rodin didn’t make it into the prestigious art school. It is thought that at least part of the reason Rodin wasn’t accepted into Ecole des Beaux-Art is that the judges were particularly favourable towards neo-classical art. Whereas Rodin was schooled in light, 18th-century sculpture.

I’m reminded of young Bob Heft, who we spoke about in episode seven.

Again, it seems that this audience was not the most suited to Rodin’s style. Although it would have been a huge kick in the guts to cop the criticism from what would have been considered the establishment in the art scene at the time, as we’ll find out, Rodin recognised that his talents were there, even if it wasn’t recognised by this particular group of people.

At the age of 17, in 1857, Rodin left school to become a craftsman and ornamentor.

A job that he would do for most of the next two decades.

It’s worth noting here, too, that although Rodin would have been working with sculpture and using his talents during this time, this was pretty minor league stuff. He wouldn’t have had the opportunity to design much of the work he was doing instead of reproducing the work of other artists that he was working for.

He would remain poor for most of that time and feel that his original work was largely underappreciated.

His main sculpture from that time, Man with a Broken Nose, was twice denied entry to the Salon, an event which highlighted a melancholy period for Rodin, only brought to an end by the breakout of the Franco-Prussian War of 1870.

The breakout of the war, in many ways, made things even worse for Rodin.

He was a 30-year-old sculptor, caring for his young family by working in a job that didn’t fulfil him, then war breaks out, and he was sent to fight.

There was no chance of him getting work as a sculptor in Paris during the war, but fortunately, his service in the national guard was brief due to his near-sightedness.

Times were tough for a decorator hoping to provide for his family during the war.

Work was sparse, and Rodin’s future looked bleak until he was invited to Brussels by Carrier-Belleuse to help with a commission making ornaments for the Belgian Stock Exchange.

Rodin’s employment with Carrier-Belleuse was short, however, but Rodin decided to stay in Belgium to find work, soon linking up with another partner, Joseph Van Rasbourgh, which allowed him to continue working on the project.

His partnership with Van Rasbourgh proved to be prosperous.

After three fruitful years, Rodin, now seeing a career path that would allow him to fulfil his dream, decided to take an adventure that would be a catalyst for all of his future greatness.

Rodin’s passion for sculpture drove him to a desire to understand how to better sculpt the human form.

He recognised that although he had worked for others for many years if he were truly going to become great of his own accord, he would have to transcend the work of his previous employers. He recognised that the only way to do that was to learn from the absolute best there was.

Rodin set off on a month-long trip to Italy to study the sculptures of Donatello and Michelangelo.

It was this trip that is credited with turning Rodin from the competent yet unremarkable figure into the eminent godfather of modern sculpture that we know today.

Still seen as two of the best sculptors of all time, these two semi-deified figures of the art world inspired Rodin intensely and empowered him to shake up the entire art world upon his return to Paris.

Upon his return, he released his sculpture entitled The Age of Bronze, which has come to be recognised as Rodin’s first masterpiece.

It was this sculpture that I’ll put a photo of on the podcast page for today that truly announced Rodin as a great artist and elevated him well beyond his previous status and reputation.

However criticised, the sculpture drew the attention of many admirers.

One of these included Edmund Turquet, an ambitious politician who, in 1879, became Undersecretary of State for fine arts.

Turquet had hoped to be the commissioner of many works of art.

One of these works of art he commissioned was a bronze door for the Musee des Arts Decoratifs or the decorative art museum. The commission for the door was awarded to Rodin, who proceeded to design the door even though the museum never ended up being built.

This door, which Rodin made from clay and Rodin continued to work on throughout his lifetime, was never cast into bronze whilst Rodin was alive. It is called the Gates of Hell and is now seen as Rodin’s most important work.

It became the canvas for which he could fully apply all of the aspects of his imagination.

It was in the creation of the Gates of Hell that Rodin would receive the inspiration that would propel him to stardom all throughout the rest of his career.

Although it wasn’t to be the only work of note for the rest of his life, as we look back at it now, the Gates of Hell is seen as the pre-eminent work of Rodin and many of the other sculptures that he’s best known for all, appear on that work.

But let’s go back to Rodin’s trip to Italy because Rodin’s revelations on that trip are central to our podcast today.

Even before his trip to Italy, Rodin was a very good sculptor, particularly by today’s standards. He’d worked for multiple decades in multiple countries, receiving some acclaim for his ability. However, he hadn’t reached anywhere near the heights he wanted to.

He recognised that he had to add something else to his work.

If we go back to last week’s episode, I’d say that he was in his zone of excellence at this point.

But it was only through studying the genius of Donatello and Michelangelo that he was able to take things to the next level.

This was obviously in the days before the internet or digital reproduction. So, for a sculptor to study Michelangelo or Donatello properly, they’d have to actually go to Italy and take in their actual work.

Although Rodin wasn’t schooled in the same artistic traditions as Donatello and Michelangelo, he recognised their genius.

I’m not an art historian, so please forgive my oversimplification, but Rodin recognised that Michelangelo brought extra life to marble.

For example, the proportions of Michelangelo’s often-muscular figures, although appearing hyper-realistic to the unfiltered eye, were often subtly altered to enhance the perceived beauty based on the point at which the observer was standing.

The statue of David is an example of this, originally it was going to be placed high above the Florentine streets, so it was intended to be viewed from below.

Michelangelo distorted David’s proportions ever so slightly to account for the fact that when it was seen from below, David’s top half would be slightly further away.

Upon learning about of the intricacies of Donatello and Michelangelo’s work, Rodin used these techniques employed by the great masters and applied them to the style that he knew.

Rodin was never a mere imitator of someone like Michelangelo.

Yet, he imitated many of the techniques that he and other masters used and updated them in ways that made them uniquely his own.

As the Philadelphia Museum of Art puts it:

“Rodin studied Michelangelo in order to plumb the expressive potential of the naked body in situations of passion and duress. He filled sketch after sketch with figures in Michelangelo-like poses and began the series of monumental nude sculptures, powerfully evocative of Michelangelo, that announced his own brilliant artistic maturity.

One scholar has even called Rodin’s Italian journey of 1876 “one of the seminal events in modern art,”

So that’s what we’re going to talk about today. Creative genius. Because I think there are some myths about genius.

We think that genius jumps out of some mysterious void, like Isaac Newton being hit on the head by the apple and discovering gravity. But like the story about Isaac Newton and the apple, this isn’t true.

There is a bit of a myth out there that finding your genius or becoming a genius is only for those ordained by some holy benefactor, who chooses people at random to strike with bright ideas.

Like Paul McCartney of the Beatles who heard the melody for the song Yesterday in a dream. He woke up and wrote the entire song almost in an instant.

The band Deep Purple apparently wrote Smoke On The Water in 10 minutes. One day they were backstage before a show.

Chris Martin of Coldplay wrote the song Yellow almost in one go.

JK Rowling said she conceptualised the entire seven books of Harry Potter in one 4-hour bus ride.

These stories are dotted throughout history, but as we’re about to find out today. That’s not how creative genius comes about. More often, it comes like Auguste Rodin, who toiled away for decades, observing others and developing his craft before eventually reaching the stage where he was world-famous and still spoken about today, 180 years after he was born.

As we’re about to find out today. Creative genius is something that you can have too.

There is a process that we can turn to and reverse engineer the path to greatness that others have taken.

That’s not to say that it’s easy or that any of us will get there, but in understanding better how these things work, we can give ourselves the best opportunity to be recognised and respected for our original ideas.

For a lot of today’s podcast, I got a lot of help from a brilliant book I read by Allen Gannet called the Creative Curve.

I’ll put up a link on the podcast page for today. You can get the link at the end of today’s podcast.

I’d recommend the book so highly, but also any podcasts with Allen or any blogs he’s written on the subject. He did hundreds of hours of research with some of the world’s current creative geniuses and was able to nail it down to a formula that I think really relates to podcasting or any other form of creative expression, for that matter.

In his book, Gannet points to the research of Mikhail Csikszentmihalyi, who’s come up on this podcast before, talking about his most well-known research around the flow.

But Csikszentmihalyi has also done extensive research on other elements of creativity, and he identifies that true creativity is actually quite hard to come by.

He uses the example that an unusual African mask might seem the product of creative genius until you realise that the same mask has been carved exactly that way for centuries.

Csikszentmihalyi argues that for something to be recognised as truly creative, it comes down to three main elements.

The first, Csikszentmihalyi, calls the domain, or Gannet calls subject matter.

In just about any pursuit, the domain or subject matter is the norms, practices and previous creative outputs that are regarded as standards.

Gannet uses the example of classical music. Here the subject matter is all of the musical notes, the chords, examples of past successful symphonies, and the standards of competition. As Gannet says, any creative classical composer needs to be familiar with all of these.

It’s important to recognise this step.

I think that this is why people so rarely achieve instant success in a pursuit they don’t have experience in.

I can’t suddenly get interested in birds and hope Rowan’s guide to twitching in 2021 will be successful without first learning about what other birdwatching books are doing. I’m sure someone’s got a guide that would be much better than mine!

In other words, if you want to create something new, you have to have an awareness of everything that already exists in order to first be able to properly conceptualise something that is creative.

Otherwise, how are you to know if someone has just done your creative idea before you?

It’s also important to note that according to Gannet, your work has to be recognised as forming part of the subject matter. This is to demonstrate that you’re aware of all of these established norms and practices.

Think, for example, if you’ve just designed a piece of fashion that is going to take next season by storm.

It wouldn’t go down so well if it were debuted in Milan in the 1500s, for example, because it’s completely foreign to people back then. It would be seen as completely experimental and new, and it wouldn’t be accessible to that audience.

The next season’s fashion builds upon this seasons fashion, and in order to take people along for the ride, it has to link enough to be recognisable as being newly fashionable.

You can’t take too many leaps ahead.

Another example of how this plays out is in academic research.

I remember having a chat with my dad one time, and he was telling me about the best research never being two steps ahead. If it’s one step ahead, it’s great because it progresses the paradigm by introducing something new to the existing field of knowledge.

The best research is 1.5 steps ahead because that really progresses things along, and people can still see the similarity with their existing notions recognise the value in updating their perspective.

If the research is two steps ahead, however, often people are unable to see its true value, as they think it’s just too experimental or out there.

We see this come up in academia all throughout history. Where people are persecuted for their original ideas, only for accepted thought to catch up later on, and their efforts are only recognised posthumously or at least much later on.

So step 1 is the subject matter. Whatever it is we choose, we have to do something that is accessible to people who are interested in that field, and so we have to be mindful of their potentially base-level understanding. In order to do this, we must gain a base level of understanding ourselves.

The next element described by Gannet is the Gatekeepers, described by Csikszentmihalyi as the field.

These are the people in a particular field, industry or pursuit who are responsible for deciding what is creative and has value and what doesn’t.

Think back to Rodin’s failed application to the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. The gatekeepers were the judges who rejected his application.

Gannet uses the example of gatekeepers in pop music.

These are the managers, record label executives, radio producers. Without their approval, you can’t achieve success or join the club, so to speak.

I think it’s interesting to note here how the role of the gatekeepers has changed in recent years.

Fifty years ago, there were a certain amount of gatekeepers, which if you were a musician, for example, were judge, jury and executioner on your career.

But these days, with the internet and digital music syndication and distribution, there are many more Gatekeepers, right down the point where each member of our audience, in many ways, are a Gatekeeper.

This is particularly true of podcasts.

We’ve decentralised the role of the gatekeeper so that you can essentially become accepted into a particular field on popularity and merit alone.

And when we look at things like diverse representation, people who were previously held back by gatekeepers perpetuating outdated notions, and excluding particular groups in society from opportunities for success, I think this is a good thing.

So we’ve got the first two elements of creativity, subject matter and gatekeepers.

Essentially, we want to learn about whatever subject it is we want to pursue and the associated cultures established in that field, then we have to impress the people in that field who decide whether something is good or bad.

Then finally, the third element of creativity is what Gannet calls the individual, or Csikszentmihalyi calls the person.

Whilst this is where most of the literature around creativity, think Isaac Newton being hit on the head with an apple, no one exists in a vacuum. All of these people that we see as being geniuses were influenced by all the others who came before them. They stood on the shoulders of everyone who came before them and contributed to the circumstances that the genius then able to build upon.

To fulfil the third element of creativity, we have to also understand how our work will be received by our intended audience.

We have to recognise how our projects fit into the zeitgeist and find what makes them particularly accessible as well as novel or creative.

The individual in this model is also able to create something that’s technically proficient because they understand what is regarded as a good technique. They have been able to elevate themselves into a position where they have been recognised by the gatekeepers, and they know that their skills and ideas are viably pursued in a commercial sense.

Csikszentmihalyi also says that not only do individuals need to be technically talented, but they also require a set of practical attributes that allow them to engage with media, consumers and gatekeepers.

As Csikszentmihalyi says, part of being a successful artist is being a successful salesperson of your own brand.

Gannet points to a study from Csikszentmihalyi where he tested and interviewed arts students and then followed their careers over the next few years. As Csikszentmihalyi notes

“The artists who were most highly regarded in their careers were the ones best able to communicate their vision to the public, often resorting to public relations tactics that would have been abhorrent in the pure atmosphere of the Arts school.”

So, it seems to me that this idea of the individual or the person isn’t just fully formed in an individualistic sense.

It’s more that they have developed in a way that is connected with those around them.

Dare I say it sounds an awful lot like an individuated individual!

Now, it seems to me from all of this, if we break it right down, to be creative in Csikszentmihalyi’s terms, you have to first develop a skill in a particular area.

Then those who are already skilled in that area either accept whether or not that person is skilled, and it’s only then that the individual is able to be judged on their merits, knowing they’ve progressed at least some way through the established pathway.

I’m guessing that this is why a lot of modern art doesn’t look like much to many untrained artists.

Many of us look at it and go. Well, I could do that, but without the background in classical art and other existing modern art, how can we know the difference between something that’s two squares on a white background and something that truly evokes representations of something deeper.

The other issue that we have to contend with is what Gannet calls the Creative Curve.

Essentially the creative curve is an inverted U curve on a graph, which denotes that things gain in popularity up to a point before they become old or too derivative.

Think of Dunlop volley shoes, for example.

When I was young, Dunlop volleys were all the rage. And it felt like you weren’t considered cool unless you had a pair. I remember going along after pleading with my mum to get a pair. And she was laughing because Dunlop volleys had been a thing when she was a kid. She hadn’t seen them for ages and was laughing at the fact that become cool again.

But unfortunately for the humble volley, the craze was short-lived. And it wasn’t long because enough people had a pair that it wasn’t considered cool anymore. And slowly but surely, they faded into schoolyard oblivion.

The same thing happens with a song if you hear it for the first time.

You think “this is great.” Each of the next 5 or 6 times you hear it, it gets better until it comes on the radio for the 3rd time that day, and it starts to lose its shine a bit. Then by the 15th time you’ve heard it, you’re completely over it and ready for something new.

The balance between whether something is cool and novel or old and tired is what Gannet calls the creative curve.

We want to be in the right spot in someone’s familiarity with an area of interest. Otherwise, they’ll get over us pretty soon after they come across something that suits their interests more.

So how is it that we can actually do all this?

When you lay it out, particularly next to the example of Rodin, who toiled away for 20 years at his craft before receiving widespread acclaim, it can be daunting.

You can understand why a lot of people don’t pursue their creative genius. There seems to be a lot involved. However, Gannet also gives us his process for demystifying things even further.

Gannet sat down with dozens of world-famous creatives.

Billionaires, musicians, members of Congress, TV hosts, people who were successful in a wide range of fields. The purpose of Gannet’s research was to find out how they kept generating idea after idea, right at the sweet spot of this creative curve.

After a while, he discovered that there were similarities in the pathways of each of the people he interviewed, regardless of their chosen activity or field.

These creative geniuses, such as Paul McCartney, JK Rowling, Mozart, they had all gone through the exact same process, even though they didn’t know it.

That process, Gannet called the Four Laws of the Creative Curve.

The first law is consumption.

Each of the creative geniuses throughout history had a period where they were honing their skills and observing the work of others. Voraciously consuming all the material, they could get their hands on in order to initially learn about and then upskill themselves in a certain area.

Think of this as the apprenticeship stage, where someone is able to learn all about the subject matter or what Csikszentmihalyi called the domain.

It’s only once someone has reached a point of consumption that they can create what’s called a psychological prototype.

A prototype in psychology is something that exhibits a subject’s fundamental property.

For example, if you have a dog, your prototype for a dog may be the same breed as your own dog. 

If you have a car, your prototype of a car might be the model of your first car or the car that you currently drive.

Another aspect of consumption is what’s called an exemplar.

Essentially these are examples of prototypes that someone can associate with.

For example, Elyse Perry is an examplar of a sportsperson, Elvis Presley is an examplar of a singer, Elon Musk is an examplar of an eccentric billionaire. The terms singer, or sportsperson, or eccentric billionaire are all ambiguous vague terms. It’s only through populating that term with exemplars that we are able to understand how successful people abstract the fundamental principle in their own way.

Essentially, the idea of the law of consumption is that we have to have an understanding about the domain in which we hope to be creative.

Again, it comes back to that idea we spoke about earlier, how can you do something new if you don’t know what’s already been done? Or, as Gannet puts it, how can you give insight into something you don’t know anything about?

The role of consumption is to help you to recognise whether something is familiar or not.

How much it has been done before and in what ways people put their own spin on the central, broader principles.

But the creative curve shows that it’s not just about recognising familiarity. We have to also introduce a level of novelty to hit the optimal zone of the creative curve.

Law 2 is Imitation.

Imitation is where we hone everything that we’ve learnt in the consumption phase. We’re picking up on things that the people we admire do and looking to reconstruct their past successes. Identifying and implementing the patterns that allowed them to become successful and create their psychological prototypes of whatever subject they’re interested in.

The third law is what Gannet considers to be potentially the most important law of the creative process—finding a creative community.

When Mikhail Csikszentmihalyi continued to follow the success of the art students in the experiment we spoke about earlier, he came across another surprising finding.

Of the students who went on to become successful artists, most of them started their careers living in a loft.

Whereas none of the unsuccessful artists had ever lived in a loft. Now we might think that a loft would allow someone to potentially store more canvases, therefore creating more art. However, Csikszentmihalyi realised that for the artists, the lofts were a place the artists can surround themselves with creative friends, muses, other artists and collaborators.

A loft was also a place that signalled that the artist was serious about pursuing their dream, and they are fully invested in achieving this vision.

As we spoke about earlier, there’s a common myth of the genius, that they stand away from others, isolated in their own cocoon of superior knowledge and understanding.

But this isn’t how genius’s operate.

Paul McCartney had the dream for Yesterday while he was in the Beatles, probably spending most of his days jamming with John Lennon and the rest. That would likely bring creative genius out of most people!

As we see time and time again, the creative genius isn’t someone who goes it alone and tries to take on everything themselves.

Even Steve Jobs, who was a notorious control freak, carefully selected those he worked with and formed his team.

But it’s not just anyone that can form our creative community.

There are a number of roles that Gannet identified that appear in all of these successful creative communities.

They are:

The master teacher – the one who can teach you the existing patterns and formulas within your craft or industry. They ensure you create things that are familiar and that you hone your craft with deliberate practice.

A conflicting collaborator – someone whose personality traits compensate for your flaws. This is someone who essentially sees things a different way to us and can point out in a constructive way when we’re being too abstract or off the mark.

A modern muse – someone who stimulates your creativity and whose relationship helps to push you to become more creative. They may stimulate ideas through conversation or know how to put you in a mood that you’re able to be more creative. These people inspire you to motivate and persevere when you are losing sight of your goal.

A prominent promoter – someone who already has established credibility and is prepared to lend some to you. This benefits both you and them as they get fresh ideas and future reciprocal favours, and you get to gain some credibility through association.

Just as an aside, Brandon T Adams is almost the best accumulator of prominent promotors I’ve ever come across.

So head back to episode three to get a sense of how he goes about things.

So, with these four members in your creative, potentially with roles spread across more people. They can help to stimulate you and guide you towards being truly creative.

It’s through this creative community that we’re able to gain access to a lot of the gatekeepers that I was speaking about earlier.

But since we’ve now passed the stages of consumption, we’ve now exhibited the established patterns and formulas needed to be recognised as skilful, and we’ve gathered our creative community.

That takes us to the fourth law, iterations.

Iterations is essentially another way of saying different versions. It is the process of testing and re-testing that helps to ensure that our ideas are still hitting the mark and sitting at the right part of the creative curve in terms of novelty and familiarity.

Even the most creative genius’s keep having to update and renew their ideas for their audience.

Think of how many musicians had a huge worldwide album but couldn’t follow it up with anything significant because their later work was too similar to their first huge success.

We have to find ways of re-updating and making our ideas fresh again to ensure that those in our target audience will find a newer, seemingly better version of what we’re doing.

According to Gannet, these creative iterations are crucial to producing anything truly creative.

That is why before even starting, creative people need to understand where they sit on the bell curve of popularity.
Of all the creative people Gannet interviewed. From entrepreneurs to authors to musicians and more. They all had their own way to refine their ideas and come up with a shortlist of those ideas that had the highest probability of success.

This is where I think the myth of creative genius comes from.

We’re all able to intuit this with varying degrees of accuracy. Those who are a true creative genius must have some level of being able to intuit what’s popular, as well as having progressed all the way through the stages of the creative process.

For those of us who don’t possess as much of these abilities of innate genius. Gannet gives us a way of constructing these iterations in 4 steps.

Conceptualisation – coming up with a whole bunch of new plausible ideas.

Reduction – you want to then reduce those ideas to a subset of ideas that have strong indicators for audience popularity

Curation – gather analysis on the ideas you’ve come up with and finetune any improvements before putting something out there

Feedback – whilst your idea might seem good to you and those close to you, you’ve still gotta test it on the wider world. The feedback stage is essentially ongoing for the life of your idea to ensure that you’re updating it enough to be as popular as when it was first introduced.

So these are the four stages of the creative process.

Consumption – gaining knowledge and experience

Imitation – learning and honing our craft by doing

Creative communities – surrounding ourselves with others who can get the best out of us.

Iterations – constantly updating and improving and asking for feedback.

I think they apply to anything creative, but there’s a couple of things that strike me.

Firstly, I find it incredible their similarity to psychologist Bruce Tuckman’s stages of a successful team.

Tuckman’s model for nurturing a team to high performance is

Forming – where a team comes together and gets to know each other.

Storming – where people start to push the boundaries, looking to exert their own individual influence on the group.

Norming – where people start to resolve their differences and the team identity begins to develop with people appreciating each other’s strengths.

Performing – where the team is in flow and performing at their full potential.

Adjourning/mourning – Many teams reach this stage naturally. For example, projects come to an end, or contracts end. But nothing can last forever, and sometimes if this is not forecast, it can be difficult for those in the team.

But if we go through those five stages, forming, storming, norming, performing and adjourning, they’re almost the group versions of the process we’ve discussed today.

If we think about forming and storming related to the consumption and imitation stages of the creative process. Norming and performing relate to finding our creative community and iterations, and finally adjourning or morning is the updating or renewing of our ideas to ensure they’re still popular.

This model seems to work at an individual level and also as a collective, which suggests to me that there’s really something to it.

If we go back to Auguste Rodin, who we spoke about at the start of the podcast, he went through this cycle too.

First, he honed his craft. Although receiving a rejection, he intuited success if he continued to consume and imitate. Then you could argue that his creative circle was extended to include the works of Michelangelo and Donatello, but certainly, once he received his acclaim, he was surrounded by many other artists.

To the point where the famous sculptor of bronze never actually worked with bronze.

He would work with clay, and his employees, other artists who occupied the position he once did, reproduced the work in bronze for him.

The other thing that really strikes me about this creative process is just how much it relates to podcasts.

We can use podcasts for consumption, observing how others arrange and present their ideas in ways that can give clues that might work for us and our audience.

We can use podcasts for imitation, to test out our ideas and to try and hone our craft both in a speaking sense, but also in terms of the crystalisation and distillation of our ideas.

We can use podcasts to access a creative community, both in terms of our audience, but also in terms of the roles that people in our creative community can provide.

What better way of accessing people to form part of your community than to go on a podcast, as I mentioned briefly earlier, look at how Brandon T Adams has used his podcast to access his prominent promoters, many of whom went on to play different roles in his creative community.

And finally, we can use a podcast for iterations. We can test our ideas, update our ideas and gather feedback all from our audience. At the same time, updating and expanding our knowledge to ensure that new ideas we have are more likely to produce novelty and hit closer to the sweet spot on the creative curve.

And so it seems to me that genius doesn’t hit you on the head like an apple. Or miraculously appear out of nowhere in a dream.

As Steve Jobs said, creativity is just connecting things. Those who posses creative genius have just learnt what to connect.