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The Creator's Code Paperback – February 25, 2016
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“This book is the inspiring story of men and women who are changing our world. Amy Wilkinson has cracked their code and given us all ways to join their ranks. This book is a game-changer and a life-changer.” (Tom Peters, author of The Little Big Things and In Search of Excellence)
”Based on 200 interviews with entrepreneurs, this book helps explain the skills needed to be a successful innovator. It’s a great guide filled with smart rules for both starting a business and bringing it to scale.” (Walter Isaacson)
“Amy Wilkinson promises brilliant insight and delivers. If you’re an entrepreneur or a corporate executive working to stay ahead of the curve, read this book ASAP!” (Joanna Barsh, McKinsey & Company director emeritus and author, Centered Leadership)
“A leading talent of her generation, Amy Wilkinson has poured five years into wresting secrets of success from 200 top entrepreneurs and then boild what she learned into six essential skills. The result is a fresh, insightful book.” (David Gergen, professor of Public Service, codirector of the Center for Public Leadership, Harvard Kennedy School of Government)
“The shelves groan with books written by entrepreneurs claiming to reveal their unique formula for success. But I like Amy Wilkinson’s more comprehensive, analytical approach. She’s interviewed hundreds of entrepreneurs, and from that stack of data has distilled the skills that allowed them to rise to the top. The good news? These are skills that anyone can develop. The added bonus? Wilkinson has a ton of great stories and she tells them well.“ (Daniel H. Pink, author of To Sell is Human and Drive)
"The Creator’s Code provides a roadmap for the next generation of entrepreneurs. Amy Wilkinson’s insights about entrepreneurship, in combination with stories of successes and failures, serves as an inspiration for those looking to create and build new businesses." (Steve Case, cofounder of AOL and Chairman of UP Global)
“Great entrepreneurs make complexity simple. Amy Wilkinson has done just that. This book offers invaluable clarity on the messy process of building a breakthrough business. An inspiring read for those who will shape the future.” (Matt Cohler, general partner at Benchmark)
"Impressive." (Publishers Weekly) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Amy Wilkinson is a senior fellow at Harvard University's Center for Business and Government, and has served as a White House Fellow and senior policy advisor in the Office of the US Trade Representative. Having received an MBA from Stanford University, she now lives in Washington DC.
Top customer reviews
For my brain, this book is pure crack: stories of risk-taking, hard-working, talented entrepreneurs and their ventures. If that were all that "Creator's Code" were offering, I'd already be sold. But Wilkinson goes way beyond that and actually distills the wisdom of these unusually successful people into six principles mere mortals like you and me can use.
Here are the 6 principles:
1. FIND THE GAP: By staying alert, creators spot opportunities that others don't see.
2. DRIVE FOR DAYLIGHT: Just as race-car drivers keep their eyes fixed on the road ahead, creators focus on the future.
3. FLY THE OODA LOOP: Creators continuously update their assumptions. In rapid succession, they observe, orient, decide, and act.
4. FAIL WISELY: Creator set failure ratios, place small bets to test ideas, and develop resilience. They hone the skill to turn setbacks into successes.
5. NETWORK MINDS: Creators bring together diverse brainpower to come up with breakthrough solutions.
6. GIFT SMALL GOODS: Creators unleash generosity by helping others, often by sharing information, pitching in to complete a task, or opening opportunities to colleagues.
Here's what I like about the book:
--The stories of the entrepreneurs: You may have used PayPal or eBay, or bought Spanx undergarments, or wished for a Tesla Model S for Christmas, but you may not know how these companies came into being. Loved hearing how Sarah Blakely started as a door-to-door fax machine saleswoman, how Pierre Omidyar and Jeff Skoll partnered to get eBay going, how Elon Musk was always mere millimeters away from disaster (or already in it) with Tesla and SpaceX, and how the PayPal guys beat out the competition and beat down international fraud rings through sheer determination and ingenuity.
--The interviews: I hope Wilkinson has super-elite platinum molybdenum frequent flyer status by now, since she must have run up crazy miles to interview pretty much every single luminary of today's entrepreneurial world. Some of these guys I had heard of before; some of them I'm glad to know about now (e.g. Steve Ells, founder of Chipotle). The list is impressive: the aforementioned Musk, Omidyar and Blakely; Elizabeth Holmes, the elusive wunderkind of Theranos; Peter Thiel; genius inventor Dean Kamen (of Segway and Slingshot fame); Google's Larry Page; MIT's Bob Langer, head of the world's largest bioengineering lab; Hamdi Ulukaya of Chobani yogurt; Joe Gebbia and Brian Chesky of Airbnb; Kevin Plank of Under Armour; Max Levchin of PayPal, Yelp, Affirm, Glow, and co-inventor of CAPTCHA; David Sacks of PayPal and Yammer; Jessica Herrin of Stella & Dot; the legendary David Kelley of IDEO.
--The ideas: Wilkinson has combed the scientific literature to bring us some gems from psychology, anthropology and neuroscience relating directly to creative success. For example, from psychiatrist Albert Rothenberg: "Conceptual contradiction can lead to creative results." So, hire people with different opinions. Or psychologist Carol Dweck's notion of growth vs fixed mindsets, and how the former leads to a more can-do attitude and entrepreneurial drive. The importance of the "Yes, and..." rule of improv comedy in hatching and developing new ideas. And one of my favorite from the whole book: "Creators become comfortable with being uncomfortable. To fail wisely, they place small bets, set a failure ratio, believe enough to persist, and turn setbacks into strength."
-- The implementation: Wilkinson doesn't just tell you what the principles are; she also gives you eminently usable methods for implementing them. For example, regarding Principle 5, Networked Minds: "To solve multifaceted problems, creators bring together the brainpower of diverse individuals through on- and off-line forums. They harness cognitive diversity to build on each other's ideas. To do this, creators design shared spaces, foster flash teams, hold prize competitions, and build work-related games. They collaborate with unlikely allies." Do you have any idea how much concentrated wisdom those 49 words contain? Amazing.
-- Thoroughness: Amy did 200 interviews with founders and went through 10,000 pages of transcript notes, 5000 pages of secondary data and 4000 academic papers to come up with her stuff. Not sure how she boiled it all down to 6 concise principles (I suspect it involved some secret formula and goat sacrifices), but for all of us, I'm glad she did.
-- Writing style: One reason besides my superhuman reading speed that I could get through this book so fast is that the writing is super-smooth, no snags. Heck, I'm already re-reading it because I know it's an easy read.
In the end, the book is an embodiment of the spirit of generosity that Principle 6 (Gift Small Goods) advocates. Wilkinson does not glamorize rapacious money-grubbers but rather chronicles the work of well-intentioned entrepreneurs out to solve real problems facing humans. Her relentlessly positive tone and pro-sharing attitude can inspire us all to go out there and use these principles to make useful things. As such, "The Creator's Code" is no small good; it's a great gift to all who read it.
-- Ali Binazir, M.D., M.Phil., Happiness Engineer, Entrepreneur; Author, The Tao of Dating
San Francisco, CA
I highly recommend this book. I learned a lot. I thought I knew it, but I know it better now.
In my role as founder and CEO of a financial services company, my main concern is to bring great products to market and then operate them better than anyone else. It's dangerously easy to go with the flow and stagnate. Here's where some of the Creator's Code lessons kick in: be alert to spot opportunities, dare to create without fear of failure and never stop looking for a better future. As it is easier said than done, the lively and well told stories serve as a great source of inspiration, and also these make lessons stick.
I also have the privilege to serve as a part time professor of Strategic Planning and Innovation at one of Latam's leading universities (ITESM). In the Creator's Code I found a great source of knowledge worth sharing with my students; I really wished I had access to such a treasure a decade ago. So, in the author's words, I flew the ooda loop and changed my teaching plan, replacing my former compilation of magazine articles, podcasts and youtube videos with this extraordinary book. Even my students loved it!
I'm sure this book will make the difference to many "regular" people, who will get the inspiration and knowledge to create the great products of tomorrow and who will become our future entrepreneurial heroes.
My congratulations and thankfulness to the author.
Most recent customer reviews
Author does have good insights
But such a poor writer
Makes the reader dig...Read more