There’s No Such Thing As A New Idea And How To Create Something Totally Unique.

I taught a creative thinking course at VCU for years. It was one of my favorite classes.

Students created great new work and we all had a lot of fun along the way. There’s been an argument about whether creativity can be taught. Are some of us born naturally creative while others couldn’t find a creative bone in their body with the Hubble Telescope?

I firmly believe that creativity is a skill that can be taught. Like anything from music to sports, some of us have a natural ability for it that’s stronger than others. But, like most things, it’s the time that’s put into it that improves and fine-tunes creative ability.

Malcolm Gladwell’s research and book Outliers examines what leads to high levels of creative success. He details what is behind Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates groundbreaking software design. Gladwell follows the early days of the legendary band the Beatles studying how they were able to develop never before heard music. He even goes back to Mozart’s early years, digging into what helped Mozart create the mystic of musical genius.

It’s a great read. Each story is interesting but in every case from science to medicine to art, and technology, creative geniuses put in at least 10,000 hours of specific practice in their area of interest. Edison’s old rule of 2% inspiration coupled with 98% perspiration held true for all of them.

Now, I also firmly believe that there’s no such thing as a new idea. Rather, something new is created by taking a couple of existing things and combining them in new ways. It’s like those kaleidoscopes we had as kids. The same few bits of existing colored glass create totally new patterns with just a little shift in one direction or another.

As we’re all working to stand out in this “Era of the Entrepreneur”, we need to keep this idea of just what constitutes creativity in the forefront of our minds. I saw a perfect example of it today that I want to share with you. It was shared with me by wonderful friends and neighbors, Sue and Gene Edmonds via email and comes from a story on Huff Po’s site.

PBS Digital Studios is celebrating the 100th birthday of Julia Child this week. She would have turned 100 on the 15th. To celebrate, they made an auto-tune remixed music video of Julia using old clips from her show with modern music and editing. Taking two existing items and combining them in a slightly shifted manner produces something new and memorable.

Julia Child Video Remix

Further greatness comes when the folks at PBS Digital Studios realized the importance of their original idea and started building on it by creating an “Icons Remixed” series. I don’t know about you, but I’m subscribing to it and I don’t subscribe to many things.

Video Remix of Mr. Rogers

So, train yourself to look for opportunities to create things that are very fresh and creative based on simply taking known items and combining then in ways that are fresh. Share other examples of this kind of thinking with us right here. Entertainment never gets old.  Speaking of entertainment, stop by and like Cook’s Facebook page.  I post all kinds of interesting graphics, advertising,  design and communications stories there.

Video Remix of Bob Ross

Bonus, if you’ve made it this far you might to revisit Dan Aykroyd’s funny sketch of Julia Child created back in his Saturday Night Live Days.  Comedy doesn’t get much better.

dan aykroyd as julia child on snl