5 books to awaken your inner creative genius

Ordinary people need food, air, and water. But creatives? All we need to survive is a pinch of inspiration and a spark of imagination.

Ordinary people need food, air, and water. But creatives? All we need to survive is a pinch of inspiration and a spark of imagination.

Have you ever wondered how life-changing ideas were born? How did Graham Bell invent the telephone? Where did Vincent van Gogh draw his inspiration from? How was Mendeleev able to arrange all the chemical elements in one tidy table? And how in the world did the Wright brothers manage to make their airplane fly?

Creative people are constantly changing the world! For you, who want to be an active participant and not just a spectator, our Venture Builders came up with their favorite 5 books on creative thinking.

Thinking, Fast and Slow

by Daniel Kahneman

Our actions are defined by our thoughts, but are we always in control of the latter?

In the highly anticipated “Thinking, Fast and Slow,” Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman takes us on a groundbreaking tour of the mind, explaining the two systems that drive the way we think and clarifying why we do irrational things and make wrong decisions.

Kahneman outlines two systems of thinking: the “Fast” and the “Slow.” “Slow” thinking is activated when we solve a problem or choose a product in a store. It’s our brain putting analytical mode ON, deliberative and logical. The “Fast” system, on the other hand, is always working in the background of our consciousness. Fast and instinctive, it’s driven by emotions.

Kahneman exposes the extraordinary capabilities of fast thinking and reveals the extensive influence of intuitive impressions on our thoughts and behavior.

Why “Thinking, Fast and Slow”?

The author addresses subjects like:

  • The impact of loss aversion* and overconfidence on corporate strategies
  • The difficulty of predicting what will make us happy in the future
  • The profound effect of cognitive biases** on everything from playing the stock market to planning your next vacation.

Each of these themes can be understood only by knowing how the two systems work together to shape our judgments and decisions.

Kahneman reveals when we can and cannot trust our intuition and how we can tap into the benefits of slow thinking. He offers practical and enlightening insights into how choices are made in both our business and personal lives, and how we can use different techniques to guard us against the mental glitches that often get us in trouble.

“Thinking, Fast and Slow” will transform your way of thinking.

* In cognitive psychology and decision theory, loss aversion refers to people’s tendency to prefer avoiding losses to acquiring equivalent gains.

** A cognitive bias is a systematic pattern of deviation from norm or rationality in judgment.

Think Like a Freak

by Stephen J. Dubner and Steven D. Levitt

It turns out that we remain incompetent because of our own pride and unwillingness to appear unskilled. In today’s fast-paced world, the winner isn’t the one who runs the fastest or works the hardest. The winner is the one who first finds a non-trivial solution to any problem: personal or business.

Unlike most books about how to think outside the box, “Think like a freak” doesn’t give you ready answers but teaches you not to be afraid to look stupid by asking uncomfortable questions. Those are the ones that will lead you to the right answers.

This book is a real encyclopedia of unusual solutions and will definitely set your mind on a new, more productive mode.

Why “Think like a freak”?

The unusual writing style and vivid analogies turn Levitt and Dubner’s book into a comic but simultaneously intellectual easy read for those who have grown sick and tired of the academic manner of presentation.

“Think like a freak” basically tells us to think like a child and look at the world through the eyes of a child, so there is nothing more we can do than just to read and obey.


by Marty Neumeier

Marty Neumeier believes that today you have to out-position, outmaneuver, and out-design the competition. Just keeping up is no longer enough. The speed of changes in the business world is growing, and the number of brands is multiplying exponentially.

Today, customers, not companies, decide which brands will live and which will die. The abundance of similar products and clone services forces consumers to look for something different that distinguishes the best from the rest.

Neumeier’s solution to stand out? “When everybody Zigs, Zag!”

Why “ZAG”?

“ZAG” is the right book for anyone whose job consists of business and/or marketing strategy. It’s also great for startups, entrepreneurs, freelancers, and consultants who want to add positioning strategy to their skillset.

The author’s mission is to incite business revolution by unleashing the power of design thinking, so you’ll learn about topics like how to read customer feedback on new products, 17 steps for designing difference into your brand, why “me-too” brands are doomed to fail, and how to stretch your brand without breaking it.


by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Scientist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi represents an entirely new approach to the theme of happiness. He defines happiness as a state of concentration where a person is completely absorbed in an activity or business in which he maximizes his potential.

The author gives it his own definition – “The Flow.”

The author builds a detailed, harmonious theory in the center of which lies the idea of the “flow.” When practicing this activity or business, you’ll lose the feeling of presence and time, and instead of fatigue, you’ll feel a constant surge of energy.

The author analyses this thrilling state on the example of representatives of various professions and discovers that the emotional uplift experienced by artists, actors, musicians, is available to any profession. More than that, one should strive for it and not only in purposeful activity but also in relationships, friendships, and love.

Why “FLOW”?

The state of “flow” is described as one of the most beautiful things in life, and this book will lead the reader in the direction of achieving it. Turns out that happiness does not condescend to us as grace but is generated by our meaningful efforts. It lays in our own hands.

For all who seek to live a happy life and are attracted by the phenomena of happiness, but also for people who are interested in psychology as a discipline.

After all, in the state of the “flow,” pleasure merges with effort and meaning, giving rise to an energy-bound unlimited state of joy.

The art of innovation

by Tom Kelley

In “The Art of Innovation,” Tom Kelley, general manager of the Silicon Valley-based design firm IDEO, takes readers behind the scenes of his wildly imaginative and energized company to reveal the strategies and secrets they use to produce hit after hit.

While telling the reader about the work process of IDEO, Kelley is trying to achieve the impossible: he completely redefines the essence of creativity and innovation.

Put aside the textbooks devoted to innovation and rather take this example of extraordinary thinking. IDEO has created an intense, quick turnaround, brainstorm-and-build process called “the Deep Dive.”

By applying his own laws of innovation, Kelley helps his readers to better understand how organizations should work on their innovation process.

Why “The art of innovation”?

The author takes us through the IDEO problem-solving method by carefully observing the behavior or, better say, “anthropology” of the people who will be using a product or service. He walks us through the process of brainstorming with high-energy sessions focused on tangible results and gives us valuable insights on how to quickly prototype ideas and designs at every stage. But most importantly, how to assign and divide roles within the innovation team and what kind of people are needed.

The Art of Innovation will provide business leaders with the insights and tools they need to make their companies the leading-edge, top-rated rock stars of their industries.

Do you have more to add to the list? Send us YOUR favorite book on creative thinking and we’ll have a read. It might be that we make a new list just for them!

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