The Creative Spark

How Imagination Made Humans Exceptional

The Creative Spark

A bold new synthesis of paleontology, archaeology, genetics, and anthropology that overturns misconceptions about race, war and peace, and human nature itself, answering an age-old question: What made humans so exceptional among all the species on Earth? Creativity. It is the secret of what makes humans special, hiding in plain sight. Agustín Fuentes argues that your child's finger painting comes essentially from the same place as creativity in hunting and gathering millions of years ago, and throughout history in making war and peace, in intimate relationships, in shaping the planet, in our communities, and in all of art, religion, and even science. It requires imagination and collaboration. Every poet has her muse; every engineer, an architect; every politician, a constituency. The manner of the collaborations varies widely, but successful collaboration is inseparable from imagination, and it brought us everything from knives and hot meals to iPhones and interstellar spacecraft. Weaving fascinating stories of our ancient ancestors' creativity, Fuentes finds the patterns that match modern behavior in humans and animals. This key quality has propelled the evolutionary development of our bodies, minds, and cultures, both for good and for bad. It's not the drive to reproduce; nor competition for mates, or resources, or power; nor our propensity for caring for one another that have separated us out from all other creatures. As Fuentes concludes, to make something lasting and useful today you need to understand the nature of your collaboration with others, what imagination can and can't accomplish, and, finally, just how completely our creativity is responsible for the world we live in. Agustín Fuentes's resounding multimillion-year perspective will inspire readers—and spark all kinds of creativity.

The Creative Spark

How musicians, writers, explorers, and other artists found their inner fire and followed their dreams

The Creative Spark

Creative people have a certain spark: a brightness in their eyes, an inquisitive way of looking at the world, a desire to make things. But that spark doesn’t reside solely in people you may view as creators. It’s in all of us. The Creative Spark is a collection of interviews with some of the most creative people of our time: musicians, authors, visual artists and chefs. These makers speak about what drives them, what helps them to see the world in fresh ways, and what inspires them turn their visions into art. During the past decade, Michael Shapiro has interviewed some of our brightest creative luminaries. Among the authors are Amy Tan, David Sedaris, Barbara Kingsolver, Pico Iyer, and Frances Mayes. His work as a music journalist has led to interviews with legends including Smokey Robinson, Lucinda Williams, Graham Nash, Lyle Lovett, Melissa Etheridge, Merle Haggard, and Jethro Tull bandleader Ian Anderson. And he’s spoken with creative masters in other field, such as director Francis Ford Coppola and comedian Joan Rivers. Yet it’s not simply that Shapiro has had access to so many supremely talented and creative people — it’s that he gets them to go deep. Moments into his conversation with Lucinda (her fans call her by her first name), she tells Shapiro about how decisions made about her mother’s funeral led to fissures in her family. From this achingly personal conversation, readers can glean fresh insights into why Lucinda has such a devoted following and why her songs open listeners’ hearts. There are people who you might not expect to find in this collection, such as explorer Jane Goodall, whose entire life has been a creative endeavor. Then there’s San Francisco Giants announcer Mike Krukow, who turns every broadcast into a work of art. And there are a couple of chefs, such as SingleThread’s Kyle Connaughton, who are transforming the way we approach fine dining. Unexpected revelations pop up in every chapter of The Creative Spark. Iowa folksinger Greg Brown isn’t a household name, but his fellow musicians revere his poetic compositions. Each chapter starts with a short biography of the creative person being profiled then segues into Q+A. This collection brings together some of the best-known artists of our time with others who may not be as famed but who have something important to say about living an artful life. The Creative Spark stands as a testament to human achievement, showing how creativity illuminates our world and how it resides in each and every one of us, just waiting to break out.

Strategic Intuition

The Creative Spark in Human Achievement

Strategic Intuition

Three kinds of strategic ideas apply to human achievement: strategic analysis, where you study the situation you face; strategic intuition, where you get a creative idea for what to do; and strategic planning, where you work out the details of how to do it. For more than a decade, William Duggan has conducted pioneering research on strategic intuition. He now gives us this eye-opening book that shows how strategic intuition lies at the heart of great achievements throughout human history: the scientific and computer revolutions, women's suffrage, the civil rights movement, modern art, microfinance in poor countries, and more. Considering the achievements of people and organizations, from Bill Gates to Google, Copernicus to Martin Luther King, Picasso to Patton, you'll never think the same way about strategy again.