Where Ideas Are Made
Marketplace producer Stephanie Hughes with Marketplace Tech at SXSW
Archimedes came up with his best idea in the tub. J. K. Rowling thought of Harry Potter on a crowded train. René Descartes came up with the scientific method in a dream.
I get my best ideas on my bike. And since Marketplace Tech was attending South by Southwest, a place with a lot of creative people, we decided to ask everyone we talked to where they get their best ideas, in physical or digital space.
US Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx
We have 55,000 employees, and a lot of times I’m talking to the more experienced people, but some times you want to go to the front line people, and say, ‘Hey what are you dealing with? Give me something new to think about.’
Where physically? I like to take long walks, and when I do that, usually I have time to let thoughts in and sometimes a good idea pops out.
Candice Morgan, Head of Diversity for Pinterest
The best way to get ideas is to learn from lots of different kinds of people. It’s really through connecting with my network that I get lots of ideas … also, I go to Pinterest, and I just do my own thing until an idea comes to me … and I am known to get ideas in the shower, yes.
Uri Minkoff, CEO of Rebecca Minkoff
I go to Flipboard. I have this crazy feed that’s somewhat personalized based on my past….it’s these 20 minute sessions of getting all that together. So I guess that’s my go-to.
I also get them as I am waking up from a nap on an airplane. I don’t know why, but that is where I get it. So whenever I’m running dry, I’m like, oh, I’ve got to go fly somewhere.
Actor Christian Slater, now starring in the show Mr. Robot
I go to my wife, I talk to her, and we figure it out together…I’m very fortunate in that I married someone who’s a more logical thinker than I am.
Actor Rami Malek, now starring in the show Mr. Robot
I go to the garage some times, just because no one’s going to come bump into the me there. It’s quiet, it’s dark.
Sam Esmail, creator / showrunner for Mr. Robot
A lot of times, it’s listening to music. Music really drives the ideas. It sets a certain tone in my brain that makes me shift perspectives in a weird way.
Kate Black, privacy officer and corporate counsel for 23andMe
I do my best thinking right before or right after I sleep, when there’s no more cellphones, no more talking, just me, a very comfortable pillow, and all my thoughts.
Sree Sreenivasan, Chief Digital Officer, Metropolitan Museum of Art
I find that reading blogs is a great way to find ideas. For inspiration, when I’m stuck in what I’m doing at my desk, I wander into the museum, and I can go anywhere on earth. Say, I want to think about Egypt or Greece or India, I can be immersed in it in a second.
Drew Burchfield, founder of Aloompa
We have a Tornado Foosball table in our office. It’s very expensive but very awesome. That’s where a lot of creativity happens. We also have a Super Shot basketball game…I have to interact, I have to talk it out and just verbalize it.
Eric Schneider, technologist at Chaotic Moon Studios
I have this amazing Russian trance music station that I tune into. For whatever reason, it allows me to crack open my mind…It’s isolation. Isolation is key.
Gretchen Rubin, author of the books The Happiness Project and Better Than Before
Reading other books, that’s where I get my ideas...For my habits book, one of the things that inspired me was — I kept looking for the book about how people make or break habits. I couldn’t find that book, and I thought, “Gosh, maybe I’ll write that book.”
Andy Puddicombe, co-founder of Headspace
When my baby sleeps through the night, and I’m able to creep out in the morning, I go surfing to get good ideas.