30 June 2018

On today’s show, Preston and Stig talk about a subject that so many want to master, but few understand where to start. The topic of today’s show is Creativity. Now, you might be asking yourself, how can I develop the right idea at the right time, and today’s guest is one of the leading experts in that field. This might be hard to believe, but Allen Gannett is only 27 years old. And as soon as you hear this interview, you won’t believe the amount of knowledge and insights he brings to the topic. In fact, Allen is so bright that at age 24, he was selected onto the Forbes 30 under 30 list. Additionally, he has created a highly successful business that’s in the field of big data analytics. For the research of his book, Allen interviewed a billionaire, one of the wealthiest members of Congress, and even CNBC host, Andrew Ross Sorkin. Click here to purchase Allen’s book: The Creative Curve.

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  • Why creativity and trends are all about striking a balance between familiarity and novelty
  • How you can keep reinventing success in different fields.
  • The truth behind the 10,000 hours rule and mastering a skill
  • Why the real story of Mozart is not about a Genius, but about helicopter parenting


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Disclaimer: The transcript that follows has been generated using artificial intelligence. We strive to be as accurate as possible, but minor errors and slightly off timestamps may be present due to platform differences.

Preston Pysh  00:02

On today’s show, we talk about a subject that so many people want to master, but so few understand where to start. The topic of today’s show is creativity. Now, you might be asking yourself, how can I develop the right idea at the right time?  

Today’s guest is one of the leading experts in that field. This might be hard to believe, but Allen Gannett is only 27 years old, but as soon as you hear this interview, you won’t believe the amount of knowledge and insight he has into this topic. In fact, at age 24, Allen was selected on the Forbes 30 under 30 lists.  

Additionally, Allen has created a highly successful business in the field of big data analytics. For the research of this book, he interviewed a billionaire, one of the wealthiest members of Congress that created three highly successful internet startup companies, the CNBC host, Andrew Ross Sorkin, and many other people. 

So without further delay, I’m really excited to bring you this discussion with the highly intelligent and creative guru Allen Gannett

Intro  01:05

You are listening to The Investor’s Podcast where we study the financial markets and read the books that influenced self-made billionaires the most. We keep you informed and prepared for the unexpected.

Preston Pysh  01:25

All right, so here we are with Allen Gannett. Allen, thank you so much for taking time out of your busy day to be with us. I’m really pumped to talk to you about your new book here, “The Creative Curve.” 

Allen Gannett  01:36

Thanks for having me. 

Preston Pysh  01:38

All right, so Allen, the title of the book is “The Creative Curve,” and you go into quite a bit of detail describing what this curve is. I find this quite fascinating. Can you give the audience just a quick overview of what the curve is that you’re talking about?

Allen Gannett  01:54

So “The Creative Curve” is my rebrand of a concept in psychology called the inverted U-shaped relationship between familiarity and preference, which would be a terrible title for a book. So I rebranded “The Creative Curve.”  

Basically, this is a diagram that represents the relationship of what drives human taste and preference. So we think that human tastes and preferences are this very organic, nebulous thing. How the heck can we ever figure it out? 

However, it actually turns out there’s really good science on what drives us to be interested in certain things and to like certain things but dislike other things. It all comes down to these two sort of primal urges we have.  

On one side, we crave things that are novel. This is sort of intuitive. We like new sources of food, new sources of pleasure and reward. This goes back to our hunter-gatherer days. We’re trying to find that next berry to eat or that next meal, whatever it was. That kind of makes sense. So we’d like things that are novel and new.  

However, we also have this other urge which is seemingly contradictory. We also have this urge to also pursue the familiar. The reason why is that we’re scared of things that are unfamiliar. Think about if you were a cave dweller and you saw a cave that you had never ever slept in before, and a cave, you slept in multiple times. You wouldn’t go into the cave that you’ve never slept in before. You would go to the cave you have slept in before because it’s safe. You’re not going to get harmed. 

So this seems like a contradiction. We crave things that are novel for potential reward but we also seek out the familiar for safety. It turns out that this contradiction is our brain’s really elegant way of balancing risk and reward. The things we like and the things we’re interested in are actually a blend of the familiar and the novel. They’re familiar enough to be safe, but novel enough to be interesting. 

This is why you find the most successful creative ideas actually aren’t the ideas that are ready radically new. Think about the first Star Wars, it was a Western in space. Harry Potter is literally like a very standard orphan rising story, but there’s wizards, you know? The iPhone was an iPod with a phone, right?  

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What you see then when you look at actual creative achievement, well, we have this notion that breakthrough ideas are radically new. The reality is, we don’t actually like those ideas. Think about the Segway, that did not work, right? We like ideas that are more incremental.  

The creative curve then is this curve shape relationship is when you first experience something, you tend not to like it, but then when you start to experience more and it starts to feel safer, you start liking more and more, until it gets to a certain point that you start to get bored of it. It becomes cliché. Then the more you’re exposed to it, the less you like it, every additional time you’re exposed to it.  

Think about when you hear that new Drake song. The first time is you’re like, “What is this?” Then the third time, “Oh, this is pretty good.” The 10th time you’re like, “Can this stop?” And the 15th time you’re like, “This has got to stop.” 

So you see this sort of turtle shell, this sort of upside down U-relationship, which again, is the inverted U-relationship between familiarity and preference, aka “the creative curve.”

Preston Pysh  05:16

I like this because you talk a lot about the Beatles in your book. You also provide a great example of how the Beatles kind of rode this curve and they went back and did a bunch of research. Tell our audience about this research.

Allen Gannett  05:31

There’s this really cool field in academia of empirical musicology, which is literally the math behind music. This one professor did a study that I thought was so fascinating. His basic question was when you think of the Beatles, they’ve been popular for everybody with 10 years sort of productivity. 

Throughout those 10 years, they were popular almost the entire time. They shifted styles and had all this stuff and it was so interesting. He mapped on a chart the number of experimental song features they used across time and what he found is that they followed this U-shaped relationship. 

They did these gradual shifts. They started very mainstream pop and then they started adding on new and experimental song features. Then as their audience started to get used to those, that’s when they started to change again.  

So really, when we talk about creative genius, what we’re really talking about is this ability to consistently not be a one hit wonder, but consistently create ideas that are that right tension of the familiar and the novel.  

The second half of the book is really breaking down how the heck do you do that? I think when we talk about creativity, we really obsess over the technical skills component of creativity. For example, how do you create something technically competent? 

Though actually, the more impressive feat is, well, how do you get the timing right. How do you develop that idea at the right time? That’s the thing that really is the domain of the so-called creative geniuses, but that’s also learnable.

Stig Brodersen  07:02

Allen, if you don’t mind sharing your story about Paul McCartney and how he wrote the song “Yesterday.” I think a lot of people are familiar with this epic song and that he talked about how it came to him in a dream. 

Perhaps a lot of people are just cursed and saying, “Well, if I don’t have the same dream as Paul McCartney, how can I write the same song?” I think you have a really interesting take on this in your book. I would love it if you would share that with the audience.

Allen Gannett  07:27

The Paul McCartney story is one of the ones that I just think is hilarious in a sort of creativity mythology. The first half of the book is sort of like a myth-busters around some of the stories and histories in creativity. 

One of the stories I start the book with is a story of Paul McCartney and the creation of the song “Yesterday.” “Yesterday” is the most recorded song of all time. Paul McCartney is the number one songwriter, number one singles. He beat John Lennon. What’s interesting is there is this famous story that Paul McCartney one morning he woke up, and he realized he had a dream, this melody that went on to become the song “Yesterday.” Sort of the shorthand version is Paul McCartney dreamed up “Yesterday.” Wow, aha! moment! Creative genius. Brilliant.  

However, what’s so funny about the Paul McCartney story is that we have this takeaway from it as a  “Wow,  inspiration strikes certain people. They’re just divine. He literally just does this asleep. Look how easy it is for him.”  The truth is so far from that. 

The truth is he dreamed up six notes and we can talk more about where those six notes came from. He dreamed up six notes and then he proceeded to spend 20 months perfecting the song. He was so obsessed with getting this song right. All the other Beatles, his managers, they would be doing tours, and he’d be working on the song backstage. They would say, “Please stop, Paul, like, you got to stop.”  

In fact, the other thing I think is funny is that “Yesterday” is known very much for the sort of haunting and brooding lyrics, but the 20 months that he took to actually write the song, the lyrics were all the way at the end. For a long time, he had no idea what the lyrics should be. It’s just this idea that this was some magical epiphany moment that you led to this success. It’s just wrong.

Preston Pysh  09:17

I find it really fascinating and when I was listening to this because I listened to the audio book on my runs, when I heard that I was like, “Wow, this just makes so much sense.” It’s so easy for people to just buy into the idea that creativity just hit you in a storm and then that’s the end of it. 

However, when you’re describing all these other steps that took place on the song, it was kind of “I see where he’s coming at with this. This really makes a lot of sense.”  

There’s another interesting person and character that you talk about in your book. His name is Jared Polis and he’s a member of congress, one of the wealthiest in Congress. 

Tell us the story of Jared and then more importantly, how did you decide that you wanted to interview him and why did he come about in creativity for you?

Allen Gannett  10:12

Jared is a really interesting character. He is, depending on the year, the first, second or third richest member of Congress, is actually right now, the front runner to be the governor of Colorado this year. So his primary is the day we’re recording this. We’ll see what happens. Listeners, you will know more.  

What’s interesting to me about Jared, one of the things in the book, I interviewed 25 living creative geniuses. I tried to be really eclectic. So these are folks like Pasek and Paul, the songwriting duo who did “Dear Evan Hanson,” “The Greatest Showman,” and the lyrics of “La La Land”; Alexis Ohanian, the founder of Reddit; Jose Andres, a Michelin starred chef; Nina Jacobson, the producer of “The Hunger Games.” 

I try to go for people who show they were able to have success multiple times over. I wanted to avoid the sort of luck factor. 

Jared is really interesting, because Jared, when he was an undergrad, he started a company and sold it for like $25 million. Then in the first dot-com bubble, he started Blue Mountain greeting cards, the first viral online like product. People would send these greeting cards to each other. He sold it for $900 million in stock and cash. Then he started Proflowers, which we all know. So these are like wildly different businesses.  

His first business was an ISP and it was so interesting to me. Then he successfully started the charter school system, and he successfully ran for Congress. Maybe he’s going to be the governor of Colorado.  

What was interesting to me about him, and all the people I interviewed, was how did he do this over and over and over again? What I thought was really interesting is that when you look at what these great creatives do, so much of it is about pattern matching. It’s not as much about the fact that they learned something in school once and had this big impact as they were doing this thing, it’s more of that they were really, really good at recognizing patterns and recognizing when they were metaphors. 

For Jared, for example, he was seeing that a lot of businesses on the internet were becoming successful by disintermediating and taking out the middleman. When you look at flowers, he saw, “Oh, wow! There’s this entire crazy supply chain. Could you build a better business?” It turns out the answer is yes. So there was Proflowers. They sold for $400 million after it went public.  

To me, this is really interesting that there’s these people who are able to do this again, and again, and that tells us something. It tells us there’s more than luck involved.

Stig Brodersen  12:49

In one of our previous episodes, Preston and I have been talking about this book “Outliers” by Malcolm Gladwell where he talks about the 10,000-hour rule in terms of repeaters of successes and how that is applicable to Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and other extremely successful people. 

Reading through your book and how it debunks that myth, let’s call it that, as the gold standard for being successful in any field, it’s especially interesting because you even interviewed the research behind the study. Please first explain what the rule is and then what you realized after interviewing the researcher.

Allen Gannett  13:32

Lovely listeners, your host is doing a great job of trying to get me in trouble, which is okay. it’s okay. I’m here. Basically, Malcolm Gladwell wrote his book, “Outliers” and this 10,000-hour rule. The idea is that with 10,000-hours of practice, you can become world class at anything. This is literally one of the most well-known business mantras of all time. Literally last night did a book talk, and I asked the audience if they had heard of it and every single hand in the room went up. It is well popularized.  

Here’s the issue. It’s based on research by a professor named K. Anders Ericsson. He wrote the book “Peak.” He’s a really well known researcher in talent development. Well, let me just tell you the quote he gave me that I put in my book, which is that quote: “Gladwell misread our paper, period.”  

Here’s the problem. There’s two major problems. One is that what the research said was that it wasn’t 10,000 hours. There isn’t some magic cell in your brain or some switch that when 10,000 hours goes on, it goes up “world class!” 10,000 hours was the average across skills, the average. 

For example, becoming a world class piano player these takes days, takes about 25,000 hours because so many people try to do it. People started so young and have been doing for hundreds of years. It’s just a higher bar, versus there’s now these people who do like competitive digit memorization which is like a thing. [It’s] like how many digits of pie can you memorize? That takes only about 400 hours to become world class. It usually only takes 80 hours because so few people do it.  

The skill then and the amount of people, the sort of social construct around the skill, has a huge determinant on what it takes to come world class, but that’s a relative subject talk, right? This is just like a very, very big problem with it.  

Then the second issue is actually bigger. The second issue is that all of Ericsson’s research is all about something called “deliberate practice,” which is totally different than just pure practice. See, the difference is practice is about getting something into your rote muscle memory and making it unconscious. 

For example, if I don’t speak sports that well, so let’s see how I do, but for example, if you wanted to practice basketball, you play a game. You get better in your muscle memory. You’d be able to be less conscious as you do it, but that’s not actually going to make you better.  

What makes you better is deliberate practice, which is taking a macro skill and breaking it down to these tiny little micro skills and doing those skills over and over and over again, so you can get that down. If you ever take golf lessons, they might focus an entire week on just your grip. 

In basketball and might be let’s do midcourt left handed dribbling. It’s these little micro skills that allow your brain to actually avoid automaticity and stay conscious. It is the complete opposite of practice.  This is why for example, if the 10,000-hour rule made any sense, we’d all be NASCAR drivers. You’ve driven a car for 10,000 hours. but that’s clearly not true. If we want to become NASCAR drivers, we would focus on very small skills in that skill set like sharp high speed and left handed turns.

Preston Pysh  16:54

Allen, you talk about genius in your book and people that are labeled geniuses. I also find kind of a contrarian point of view for this and I think it might surprise people kind of how you view this. So talk to us about geniuses and how it relates back to creativity as well.

Allen Gannett  17:15

So, this capital G idea of genius is very, very popularized these days. I mean, you see this with the cover Fast Company, there’s these people and they’re geniuses. They’re just creative geniuses, Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, etc.  

However, the problem is that when you actually look at these stories, what you really find are stories of significant amounts of effort, significant amounts of talent development. Going back to this idea of purposeful practice. I mean, Mozart I think is the best example. 

Mozart, if you watch the movie Amadeus, which won eight Academy Awards. Mozart in that movie is portrayed as blindfolded playing the piano for the pope at the age of three and wrote his first concerto at the age of four as the narrator says. 

In the whole movie, the whole idea is that him and Salieri are these arch nemesis. Salieri eventually kills him, spoiler alert, and Salieri talks about in the opening of the movie that Mozart wrote his first concerto for opera at six. He never had second drafts, he never had mistakes.  

Oh my god, where do we start? This is like completely, completely nuts. The real story of Mozart is basically the story of helicopter parenting. When he was three, his dad said, “Mozart, I love you but you need to become a great musician.” 

A little Mozart was like whatever you say, dad, please love me. Mozart’s dad was kind of rich and hired for him the best music teachers in all of Europe and made this little kid practice three hours every single day, seven days a week. He then wrote his truly first original piece of music when he was 17, not 4,  which, first of all, is not very good.  

Second of all, it is after 14 years of practicing three hours every single day with the best music teachers in all of Europe, under the conditional love of a helicopter dad, so like yes you’d write a half decent concerto too.   

The story of Mozart is even crazier because this idea for example of him and Salieri everything is funny because Salieri was actually friends with Mozart. He was the music teacher for Mozart’s kids. This idea that Mozart would never have a second draft and he would always compose in his head, these come from a letter that was published in 1815 in a music magazine, supposedly from Mozart. The music magazine publisher forged it to sell copies.  

So we have these sort of notions of these mystical qualities like Mozart popped out of the womb playing the piano, and it’s just wrong. The reality is when you look at the stories of creative genius, with even a mildly skeptical look, it is really the story of lots of hard, thoughtful, intentional work, not just hard work but thoughtful hard work.

Preston Pysh  20:01

Yeah, it’s awesome. I really, really enjoyed this section in your book. 

Stig Brodersen  20:06

Another thing I really like about this book is what you talk about “aha moments,” moments that I think we all have had, but we don’t necessarily know why it’s happening right there. You have this very interesting explanation of what is happening in your brain as you’re experiencing that. So could you please elaborate on aha! moments?

Allen Gannett  20:31

This is usually the part where I was telling someone about the book, I was talking about Paul McCartney. They’d go, “Yeah, but Paul still dreamed up at least part of the song. That’s impressive.” 

Here’s the thing, it’s actually pretty normal. Basically, when we talk about “aha moments,” what we’re talking about is a certain type of mental processing called sudden insight. 

Sudden insight is what happens in the right hemisphere of your brain. How it works is your right hemisphere is where you store sort of the more distant and metaphorical associations with words or concepts. Think about it as “definition to” in the dictionary. It’s also where you connect sort of disparate ideas together.  

Here’s the thing, this sort of processing, it all happens subconsciously. It’s only once the idea becomes clear that it pops into consciousness, it goes, “Aha!” This is the same effect as when maybe you’re looking at a crossword puzzle, and you suddenly get the answer without doing “work.” 

This is same thing that’s going on from a biological perspective as what’s going on when Paul McCartney had an aha! moment.  

The analogy I like to give is your left hemisphere. The left hemisphere is where you do logical processing and this is all very conscious. It’s very step by step. If you’re doing a math problem, you’re aware that you’re doing long division, it’s not just happening. 

I like to think about is like your left hemisphere is like in college you had that smart but loud lab partner who was like, “Okay guys, we’re going to do this, then this, then this and we solved the puzzle. Good job team.” Then your right hemisphere is the quiet lab partner, who’s kind of dorky, but like clearly smart that one day we will all work for. He’s sitting there and he’s like working on the problem, and only once he gets the answer is he like, “You guys, I got it.”  

If your left hemisphere is that guy who is being too loud, you can’t actually even hear your quiet lab partner. This is why you experience “aha moments” like in the shower or on a run, or when you’re taking a long walk. It’s not that the shower or your commute is inspiring. It’s literally your left hemisphere, the loud lab partner, has shut up. That’s why you experienced them then.  

What you see when you look at “aha moments” is they’re not magical or mystical. They’re actually pretty basic biological phenomena. Then the question is what like, if they are basic biology, how do we have more of them? How do we actually cause them to happen more often because that would be pretty useful?  

This is where it gets really interesting. See, the thing that scientists have found is that the thing that’s tied to “aha moments,” well, it’s prior knowledge. If you want to connect the dots, you have to have dots to connect. I thought what was really surprising is when you look at these stories of your creative genius, we often talk about these great creators and almost in opposition to consumers.  

There’s that really annoying social media meme. It’s like 90% of people consume, 9% engage, 1% create. Hashtag: “hustle.” Not only is it like stupid, but it’s also wrong because one of the things I found, when the Four Laws I talked about in the book, is that these great creative achievers are actually massive consumers of the creative product in their niche, and they get obsessed. They learn a lot about a little. It’s not like social media, it’s not a little about a lot. It’s a lot about a little.  

The reason why is that this sort of deep consumption is what allows them to fill their right hemisphere with all this stuff, they need to actually be able to come up with these new ideas. For example, Paul McCartney, he grew up in a musical household. His dad was always playing music.

He literally played in a cover band for years, right? So he’s constantly ingesting music, and that eventually, yes he dreams about music, and you don’t. But that’s logical.  

JK Rowling spent her entire childhood in her bedroom with a book. Her parents were always fighting and squabbling. In college, she had library time. She had so many books out. So yeah, when she daydreams, she dreams about characters, and you don’t. But that’s pretty logical. She also doesn’t daydream about new podcast concept ideas like you probably do. 

One of the big mistakes then we have when it comes to aha! moments is we sort of forget where do they come from. Well, they come from the things you’ve already experienced, you already consumed. One of the things you can do, if you want to be more creative, is actually consume more. That’s so important.

Preston Pysh  25:26

I love it and you called this the “20% principle,” correct?

Allen Gannett  25:33

Yeah. One of the things I thought was really interesting when I did these interviews, I found 100% compliance with, at some point early in their career, these great creatives had some very, very deep amount of consumption. I interviewed multiple novelists who told me some variation of like, I live near the library and I read every book and I was like, I got it. I got it. I’ve heard this before.  

However, what was then really interesting was that this consumption didn’t actually stop. Going into their careers, these people are successful, they’re busy, but over and over again, when I talk to them about how they consume, how they’ve learned, I found that the average spend about three to four hours every day consuming, consuming three to four hours, which is about 20% of your waking hours. So I call it the “20% principle.”  

The “20% principle” is this idea that these great creatives, in order to stay relevant, actually spend 20% of their time-consuming information in their narrow niche to have raw materials for their creativity. That’s a lot of time. 

I think that’s one of the big mistakes we have. When it comes to creativity and creative process, we think it’s all about the grind, it’s all about doing, but so much of it is about laying the groundwork.

Preston Pysh  26:52

Allen, you interviewed just a ton of people and really quite fascinating people for this book. I’m curious, who do you remember the most and what was it that you learned from them that really kind of stuck in your memory?

Allen Gannett  27:07

This is by the way, I’m not pandering to you. It actually was the one billionaires I interviewed. It was David Rubenstein, co-founder, Carlyle Group. He’s on the board of 25 nonprofits. I think right now he’s the chair of Missoni and the Kennedy Center. He’s been the chair of Duke before. Just a crazy guy. He was the guy who when there was an earthquake in DC, and the Washington Monument got a crack, he paid to fix it.  

David is just like a cool guy, top of his career, late 60s. We went out and got tea. What was so interesting to me about David was that he is like one of the nicest, but also most curious people. He’s like a recognizable face and people would come up and like start talking to him. He was super nice, but he also is always asking a question. He is this vacuum of information.  

Even if I was trying to interview him for my book, he started asking me all these questions. I was like, “No. We’re talking about you.” And he’s like, “Oh, let’s talk about data and analytics.” And I was like, “Oh, my God, this is so stressful. I’ve a billionaire asking me about analytics.”  

That was a theme that I found throughout the book, which was that these really successful creatives are often very, very curious. The other thing to do that I thought was really interesting, and David does this, a lot of them have a lot of young people around them, right? 

They have this sort of like this need and this understanding that if they want to stay relevant, they can’t do it all themselves. They’re not going to have access to the freshest ideas, inherently just because of their sort of power structure, how successful they are, the sort of information they get. So, a lot of them engage in what I call, and a lot of people have called before, reverse mentorship, which is this idea of learning from young people to get these new ideas.  

There’s actually some really cool studies that show the most successful teams are the teams that are a combination of the establishment and the fringe for this exact reason. You have the credibility, the familiarity and the reputation of those who are already successful, and you get the fresh ideas and the novelty of those who are new. David was this like, really cool example of that all bundled up into a billionaire.

Preston Pysh  29:20

I’m not even making this up. This is literally my next question. Okay. I’m just going to read it here to you, Allen, you’re a big data entrepreneur. Tell us a little bit about your business and how you went about it.

Allen Gannett  29:33

The company is called TrackMaven. It’s about six years old, based in Washington, DC, it’s about 60 people. We work with about 350 big consumer brands, everyone from the NBA to Saks, Fifth Avenue and everything in between.  

Basically, what we do is we suck in all their marketing data from about 25 different digital sources and we have dashboards, reporting and all that sort of stuff, but then we also actually give them, on top of that, what they should do better. How can they actually improve? How can they better tell their story? It’s that sort of intersection of the left brain and the right brain.  

I started out sort of tying with the book, I started it because I was a marketer. That was what I was consuming and this was back in 2011. I saw that you were seeing all this pressure from marketers to be data driven, to use data, but data was inaccessible and unaffordable, and not actionable. 

The whole idea for TrackMaven was if you could solve all three of those problems, there was obviously a market there. So we did it and it worked. It’s fun when you’re doing a business that’s scaling. So much of it is about the journey.

Preston Pysh  30:45

You had how many employees, 60-80 employees did you say? 

Allen Gannett  30:49


Preston Pysh  30:49

Wow and for people that can’t see you, you’re very young. Are you still under 30 years old?

Allen Gannett  30:56

I’m young. I’m under. I’m 27.  

I started the company when I was 21, or 22. It was definitely interesting because now I feel like I’m more age appropriate. Though when I started the company I definitely had sort of mild panic and imposter syndrome all the time because I was like, “Oh my god, like, everyone’s going to realize I’m 22 and this will fall apart.”  

What I realized at the end of the day was that people sort of respect and understand the fact that you’re the CEO, and you’ve built this thing. Luckily, tech has sort of a bit of a cliché around young CEOs and so investors don’t really mind that much. So that’s good.

Preston Pysh  31:43

Now, it’s very, very impressive. 

Stig Brodersen  31:47

Allen, this is the last question I have for you. Reading about the interviews you had with these successful people and your own extremely successful story and journey, just so far, what are the key takeaways, or perhaps rather, the different steps the audience could take to become more creative themselves?

Allen Gannett  32:07

In the book, I talk about these four laws of the creative curve. One of them is consumption, I talk a lot about not just how much you can consume, but also how to consume. The other one, I talk a lot about imitation, which is this idea that since familiarity is such a big part of creativity, what you find that great artists, great, creative achievers are after actually very comfortable imitating those who have come before them.  

The third one is around creative communities and the fourth one is around iterations. The creative community stuff, I think there’s some really actionable and straightforward things in there. One of the mistakes we make when we talk about creativity is we talk about it as an individual phenomenon. 

Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, these individual people, but the issue is that creativity is a social phenomenon. There’s an entire human dynamic to it.  What we deem creative as societies, what we all agree is creative is there’s a social aspect to it. You have to engage other people and what I found is that these creative achievers, unlike people who aspire to be creative, these creative achievers all build a community of people around them, to actually help them with their creative process.  

I experienced this obviously with the book, where my name is on the cover, but I had an agent, an editor, research assistant, 15 feedback readers, two copy editors, a perforator, a marketing team, a publicist who emailed you about the book, right? My name is on the cover, but the creative process is really not just me. I was sort of more of a composer in this process or a conductor. 

You see this when you started looking back at the stories of creatives like Steve Jobs. Day one, he had Steve Wozniak, he had a team of people in that garage working with them. It wasn’t him alone in a garage in Palo Alto doing this. He had a team.  

One of the things I think these great creatives do that is very actionable, is that they’re self-aware about their weaknesses. They use other people to fill those gaps. I think oftentimes, aspiring creatives think, “I have to do this all myself. And if there’s a skill I don’t have, well, I just shouldn’t do it. I’m not going to be that successful.” 

However, the really great creative achievers, they learn what their gaps are, and they fill those with other people in their creative community. That’s what helps them become successful. They’re not scared of their weaknesses. They’re aware of their weaknesses. So that’s something I think anyone can immediately get better at.

Preston Pysh  34:57

I can honestly say, Allen, this book is absolutely fabulous. I’m not just saying that because you’re here with us. I mean, I read this before even knowing you and then I reached out afterwards because it was so good that we just had to bring you on the show.  

For anybody listening, the name of the book is “The Creative Curve: How to Develop the Right Idea at the Right Time.” Allen, thank you so much for coming on the show. Please tell people where they can learn more about you or maybe follow you on Twitter or whatever.

Allen Gannett  35:27

Yeah, the book’s website is thecreativecurve.com and you can see the read the preface, you can watch the book trailer which my very silly four year-old Corgi appears in, so definitely worth the watch. You can check me out online Allen.XYZ and I’m @allen on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Preston Pysh  35:48

Awesome. Thank you so much for taking time out of your day, Allen, really appreciate it.

Allen Gannett  35:52

Thanks for having me. 

Stig Brodersen  35:53

All right, guys. That was all that Preston and I had for this week’s episode of The Investor’s Podcast. We will see each other again next week.

Outro  36:00

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