American Creativity


Yesterday on the CBS Sunday Morning Show there was a fascinating segment on the wellspring of creativity in America. This piece struck a chord for me because creativity is what the entrepreneurial spirit feeds on. New businesses are formed every day because someone like you has a creative idea as well as the drive to make it a reality. Below is an excerpt from the transcript:

A new idea . . . a new approach . . . a new technique . . . creative breakthroughs can come like a bolt of lightning, or in the whisper of a muse.

Or, sadly, not at all. Many of us would welcome any sign of creative inspiration.

"Creativity is the ability to give the world something it didn't know it was missing," said Daniel Pink. "Create something fundamentally new, like the iPod. You have tens of millions of people now who carry around an iPod. Eight years ago I don't think they knew they were missing an iPod."

Even without your iPod, author Daniel Pink's views may be music to your ears. A former speechwriter for Vice President Al Gore, Pink now writes about creativity, and believes we all have at least some potential.

"You have it 'cause you're a human being," Pink said. "Now when I say everybody's creative, doesn't meant that everybody is a budding Picasso or a budding Edison or a budding Toni Morrison. But the human species is defined by its ability to create."

And he thinks this country's got a pretty good track record of doing just that:

"What's happened the last 10 years that has changed the lives of people all over the world? The iPhone: USA. Twitter: Started by a guy from Nebraska. Facebook: Started by a guy from Florida who went to Harvard and dropped out."

And not just because America is a rich country with more time to think and create. Pink also credits what's been a nurturing environment.

"In this country failure is less stigmatized than in other countries," he said. "If I start a business and it fails, I don't shame my entire family, okay? In fact, the bankruptcy code in this country affords me, quote, 'a fresh start.'"

"What the American experience offers when it comes to imagination is that we're a melting pot of so many different types of people," said Walter Isaacson, who runs the Aspen Institute, a think tank in Washington. He has written biographies of two creative geniuses, Albert Einstein and Benjamin Franklin.

"You see it at the founding of our republic," Isaacson said. "You've seen that great Industrial Revolution where people were inventing the telephone, the telegraph, the light bulb, and everything else, the phonograph. You've seen the push that came because of the Internet and the digital revolution. And now we're looking for what's going to be the engine or the driver of a new creativity."

The challenge for the U.S. is how to keep up that momentum.


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