16 Secrets To Creating Breakthrough Ideas

inauguration jay-z beyonce

What do Arianna Huffington, Jay-Z and the founders of Twitter all have in common?

They changed the face of American culture forever.

They have enabled us to “see ourselves, or something in the world, differently,” explains author Grant McCracken. In his book  “Culturematic,” McCracken discusses how these and other innovators came up with revolutionary concepts that helped shape the way we see the world today.

McCracken describes “culturematic” as “a little machine for making culture. It’s an ingenuity engine.” The cultural innovators practicing this art form all get one key thing right: They challenged the traditional order in which our world is run. “They speak to us because they go against the grain of expectation,” McCracken shares. 

We chose 16 of the most valuable secrets from their successes. 

Twitter Founders: Don't do it for others, do it for yourself

Jay-Z: Always be versatile and willing to reinvent yourself

Andy Samberg: Don't ask your boss for permission

'When Andy Samberg joined the cast of Saturday Night Live, he found his own way to make a contribution.' Without asking his boss for permission, Samberg borrowed a camera from a friend, made a short film and handed the tape to his producer at Saturday Night Live. Now, 'Samberg is one of the new producing wells in popular culture. ...The YouTube views generated by SNL digital Shorts run into the hundreds of millions.'

Source: Culturematic

'Chuck Lorre is perhaps the most inventive man in television. He is certainly the most durable. ... Lorre found a way to turn the freeze-frame into a personal message. ... Lorre gets to speak to us in a voice that is not just personal, but also candid, scathing, witty and revelatory. ... By this standard, every other producer is a talking head.'

Source: Culturematic

Arianna Huffington: Give the people what they want

Arianna Huffington found a creative and accessible way to present online content to the public. People like Arianna Huffington are called 'curators.' 'They are people who can examine the best bodies of data and people and discover the ones that matter. But this is the first act of curation. The second is connecting. Once curators identify data and people, they connect them to other data and people. Thus our world becomes still more feverish in its creativity.'

Source: Culturematic

Graffiti artist Banksy: Don't just come up with another brand

'Banksy's graffiti is Culturematic because it intervenes in the city with images that captivate us.' Banksy defies the principle that 'there is nothing imaginative about some guy writing his initials on the side of a bus over and over again.' Banksy's art suggests that you should 'investigate the world for what you don't know, instead of trying to brand it with what you do.'

Source: Culturematic

Author who invented the smart mob concept: Break free from routine

'With his book 'Smart Mobs,' Howard Rheingold encouraged people to assemble in public on scant notice for just-in-time purposes ... to freeze for a moment at Grand Central ... or to act out letters in a department store window. ... No tangible good will return from this investment of time and effort ... But participants believe their time was well spent. ... Order that emerges and then disappears. It's as though someone has been practicing senseless acts of beauty.'

Source: Culturematic

''What if we put a bunch of amateurs in a house and filmed what happens?' Thus spoke Mary-Ellis Bunim and Jonathan Murray in 1991, when they created a reality television program called 'The Real World.' ... What nobody anticipated was that this little show would change the very landscape of American television. ... Over the last two decades, reality TV has proven the most productive idea in the history of television, turning out hundreds of experiments, many of which survived to maturity.'

Source: Culturematic

The men behind Web 2.0: If it's a failure, build off it and redesign

'Web 2.0 is a concept created by Tim O'Reilly and Dale Dougherty. It was destined to change the way an industry thought about itself. The aftermath of the dot-com collapse was all doom and gloom, pain and scepticism. ... Web 2.0 delivered that most extraordinary thing: a category in our heads that would help us see the world. And from this could come a conference, a consensus, and a community. An industry pulled itself back from chaos and began again, now more confident and more purposeful.'

Source: Culturematic

Television producer Dan Harmon: Create a think tank

The tech genius behind Wordle : Use uncertainty to your advantage

'Wordle is a little program Jonathan Feinberg created while he was working at IBM. It takes words and turns them into images. ... Wordle is a bit of a black box. Feinberg stuffed his image engine with beautiful colours and typefaces and turned it loose. He created a device that could be relied on to deliver images with a certain something. We're not sure what. In spite of this uncertainty, we have used Wordle over a million times. Let's restate that. Because of this uncertainty, we have used Wordle over a million times.'

Source: Culturematic

Founder of Pie Lab: Find something that everybody likes and use it as bait.

'John Bielenberg had a problem: how to reach out to people and move them to reach out to one another. Bielenberg wanted to build community. ...The Pie Lab, as it came to be called, was betting that this staple of Thanksgiving could serve as an engine for social good ...The residents of Greensboro thought, 'how dangerous can these people be? They're handing out free pie!' Conversation happened. Social distance collapsed. People began to see they shared interests. The stage for change was set.'

Source: Culturematic

Author Julie Powell: Take it one step at a time.

Julia Child is known for bringing French cuisine to the mainstream American public with her famous cookbook 'Mastering the Art of French Cooking.' She inspired Julie Powell, an average girl in Queens 'to prepare the recipes of Julia Child. This is a gigantic undertaking, to do and to read about. Julie decided to do one recipe a day for a year. Not so gigantic. ...The 'baby step' principle tells us that humans are sensitive to moments when the scale of a problem threatens to render their action insignificant.'

Source: Culturematic

Creators of fantasy football: Recycle old ideas

Comedian Kathy Griffin: Defy convention

Chief editors of The Onion: surprise your audience

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