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Top 25 Books to Unleash Your Creative Potential

Top 25 Books to Unleash Your Creative Potential

Books have the power to uncover worlds we never knew existed. Whether they speak directly about creativity or not, books are a gem trove of motivation and inspiration just waiting to be tapped. Below we have listed some brilliant creative books for creative people that are sure to ignite the imagination. Each book deals with a different aspect of creativity.

1. The Book Of Doing by Allison Arden

The Book of Doing

    Amazon / iTunes / Google Play / Kindle

    “It is a curious thought, but it is only when you see people looking ridiculous that you realize just how much you love them.”

    In this book, Allison discusses 94 activities that can create opportunity by taking you out of your comfort zone, and unlocking the creativity that lives inside you. This book also classifies the hurdles standing in your way to success.

    2. Imagine: How Creativity Works by Jonah Lehrer

    Imagine

      Amazon iTunes / Google Books Kindle

      “Nevertheless, every mental talent comes with a tradeoff. Once we learn to inhibit our impulses, we also inhibit our ability to improvise. And this is why it’s so important to practice letting ourselves go.”

      Illustrating creativity through references and facts, Lehrer reveals a variety of distinct thought processes that will help us to unlock our imagination.

      3. Lateral Thinking by Edward de Bono

      Lateral Thinking

        Amazon iTunes / Google Books Kindle

        “It may be necessary to be on the top of a mountain in order to find the best way up.”

        In this worldwide praised book, de Bono offers some practical methods to buoy up the habit of lateral thinking to generate ideas and to unleash creativity.

        4. It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want To Be. by Paul Arden

        Paul Arden

          AmazoniTunes / Google Books / Kindle

          “The world is what YOU think of it, so think of it DIFFERENTLY and your life will change.” 

          The world’s best advertising expert, Paul Arden, shares his wisdom on issues like problem solving, answering to a brief, connecting, making right decisions, making mistakes, and creativity—all activities that are realistic in modern life.

          5. How To Have Kick-Ass Ideas by Chris Barez-Brown

          How to Have Kick-Ass Ideas

            AmazoniTunes / Google Books Kindle

            “Go Visual’ – capturing your issue without using words. You can sculpt, collage, whittle, whatever!”

            The book How To Have Kick-Ass Ideas is filled with simple, useful methods to unlock your creative juices and contains real-life case studies to exhibit the methods in action.

            6. Creativity by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

            Creativity

              Amazon/ iTunes / Google Books / Kindle

              “Creative persons differ from one another in a variety of ways, but in one respect they are unanimous.”

              Creativity is about seizing the moments that can make our life worth living. In this book, the author offers an understanding of what leads to these worth-living moments. Consisting of 100 interviews with extraordinary people, from ecologists and physicists to business leaders and politician, Csikszentmihalyi uses his well-known philosophy to discover the creative process.

              7. Creative Confidence by Tom Kelley, David Kelley

              Creative Confidence

                AmazoniTunes / Google Books Kindle

                “Money will always be easier to measure, which is why it takes a little extra effort to value the heart.”

                This famous book is written by two well-known experts in innovation, intention and creativity. This book reveals the myth that creativity is the domain of “creative types” only.

                8. The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp

                The Creative Habit

                  AmazoniTunes / Google Books Kindle

                   “If the luckiest people in the world are the ones who get paid for doing what they would otherwise do for free, I am already lucky.”

                  Twyla Tharp, one of the world’s most famous creative artists, shares her secrets for increasing and improving creative talents.

                  9. The Opposable Mind by Roger L. Martin

                  The Opposable Mind

                    AmazoniTunes / Google Books / Kindle

                     “That expertise actually works against the development of expertise in business itself.” 

                    The Opposable Mind is consist of  50 success stories of management, including the success behind some famous brands like Proctor & Gamble, eBay and Four Seasons hotels.

                    10. Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

                    Flow

                      AmazoniTunes Google Books Kindle

                      “What an individual yogi can do is amazing—but so is what a plumber can do, or a good mechanic.”

                      The famous psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s illustrious investigations of “optimal experience” have shown that the satisfaction is a state of consciousness called “flow.” In this new edition, Csikszentmihalyi describes the ways this positive state can be controlled.

                      11. Sketching User Experiences by Bill Buxton

                      Sketching User Experiences

                        AmazoniTunes / Google Books Kindle

                        “Sketches are social things. They are lonely outside the company of other sketches and related reference material. They are lonely if they are discarded as soon as they are done.”

                        In this book Bill Buxton has included a huge collection of historic lessons, examples of best practices, and case studies from the world of business/communication/experience design. The book addresses the designers, specialists, community, managers, and business executives.

                        12. Conversations with Wilder by Cameron Crowe

                        Conversations with Wilder

                          AmazoniTunes / Google Books Kindle

                          “It was like a film school masters’ class, and the best interview I’ve ever done. His biggest influence on me has been how he’s lived his life. “

                          Cameron Crowe, director of Jerry Maguire, loves Billy Wilder’s films so much, he’s written a book about them. In this book, he analyzes the “creative process” and tries to discover the secret of success of creative people—writers, artists, filmmakers, and comedians.

                          13. The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande

                          The Checklist Manifesto

                            AmazoniTunes / Google Books Kindle

                            “Knowledge has both saved us and burdened us.”

                            The Checklist Manifesto is an intellectual adventures book, in which many lives are lost and saved and one simple idea changes the whole situation. The Checklist Manifesto is a must-read book for anyone looking to get things right.

                            14. The Tenacity of the Cockroach by Stephen Thompson

                            The Tenacity of the Cockroach: Conversations with Entertainment's Most Enduring Outsiders

                              AmazoniTunes / Google Books / Kindle

                              “In a world of locked rooms, the man with the key is king. And honey, you should see me in a crown.” 

                              This book consist of essays authored by extraordinary creative people. This book includes in-depth interviews of creative people from a vast range of disciplines and allows you to investigate their inspirations, processes, trials and skills.

                              15. Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

                              Thinking, Fast and Slow

                                AmazoniTunes / Google Books Kindle

                                “The confidence that individuals have in their beliefs depends mostly on the quality of the story they can tell about what they see, even if they see little.”

                                In this highly anticipated book, Kahneman takes us on a revolutionary tour of the mind and explains the systems that drive the way we think.

                                16. Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon

                                Steal Like an Artist

                                  AmazoniTunes / Google Books / Kindle

                                  “If you ever find that you’re the most talented person in the room, you need to find another room.”

                                  In this book, Austin Kleon emphasizes that it doesn’t take ingenuity to be creative—it just takes being yourself. This book is extremely modern and applicable to the digital age.

                                  17. Manage Your Day-to-Day by Jocelyn K. Glei

                                  Manage Your Day-to-Day

                                    AmazoniTunes / Google Books Kindle

                                    “Like it or not, we are constantly forced to juggle tasks and battle unwanted distractions—to truly set ourselves apart, we must learn to be creative amidst chaos.”

                                    Manage Your Day-to-Day is equipped with practical insights about time management and work productivity. With wisdom from 20 leading creative minds, this book will give you a toolkit for confronting the new challenges at the workplace.

                                    18. Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely

                                    Predictably Irrational

                                      AmazoniTunes / Google Books Kindle

                                      “But suppose we are nothing more than the sum of our first, naive, random behaviors. What then?”

                                      Predictably Irrational gives an interesting, witty and completely original overview about our illogical decisions. In this astonishing book, behavioral economist Dan Ariely, reveals how irrationality often replaces rational thought.

                                      19. Contagious by Jonah Berger

                                      Contagious

                                        AmazoniTunes / Google Books / Kindle

                                        “People don’t think in terms of information. They think in terms of narratives. But while people focus on the story itself, information comes along for the ride.”

                                        Contagious combines innovative research with prevailing stories.  This book offers a set of precise, actionable procedures to spread information—designing messages, promotion material, advertisements, and information that people will share.

                                        20. Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud

                                        Understanding Comics

                                          AmazoniTunes / Google Books Kindle

                                          “Art, as I see it, is any human activity which doesn’t grow out of either of our species’ two basic instincts: survival and reproduction.”

                                          Praised throughout the cartoon industry, Scott McCloud explains and observes many characteristics of visual communication. This famous book has been translated into 16 languages, its ideas applied in many other fields such as game design, web development, and animation.

                                          21. Save The Cat by Blake Snyder

                                          Save the Cat

                                            AmazoniTunes / Google Books Kindle

                                            “Liking the person we go on a journey with is the single most important element in drawing us into the story.”

                                            This book is an ultimate insider’s guide that discloses the mysteries that no one dares to admit, told by a showbiz expert who’s supported that you can sell your script if you can save the cat!

                                            22. The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr. & E. B. White

                                            Elements of Style

                                              AmazoniTunes / Google Books Kindle

                                              “Omit needless words.”

                                              This book offers useful advice on improving writing skills. Throughout The Elements of Style, the authors promote a plain English style. It can help many students to communicate more effectively by demonstrating how to enliven their sentences.

                                              23. Art & Fear by David Bayles & Ted Orland

                                              art & fear

                                                AmazoniTunes / Google Books / Kindle

                                                “Vision, Uncertainty, and Knowledge of Materials are inevitabilities that all artists must acknowledge and learn from.”

                                                Art & Fear explores the world of art, and discusses the difficulties that cause so many artists to give up. The authors, David Bayles and Ted Orland, have personal experience, and provide an incisive view into the world of art as it is experienced by art makers themselves.

                                                24. Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards

                                                Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain

                                                  AmazoniTunes / Google Books Kindle

                                                  “Once you have learned to walk, you know how to walk for life. You don’t have to go on forever adding additional basic skills.”

                                                  This book is the world’s most widely used drawing-instruction book. People from every walk of life—artists, students, managers, designers, architects, real estate agents, engineers—have applied its ground-breaking approach to problem solving.

                                                  25. The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

                                                  The War of Art

                                                    AmazoniTunes / Google Books / Kindle

                                                    “If you find yourself asking yourself (and your friends), “Am I really a writer? Am I really an artist?” chances are you are. The counterfeit innovator is wildly self-confident. The real one is scared to death.”

                                                    The War of Art is a profoundly inspiring guide to disable creative blocks of every kind. It also identifies the internal enemy, sketches a battle plan to conquer this enemy; and then determines ways to achieve greatest success.

                                                    Featured photo credit: Paddy via flickr.com

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                                                    Tayyab Babar

                                                    Tayyab is a PR/Marketing consultant. He writes about work, productivity and tech tips at Lifehack.

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                                                    Last Updated on January 6, 2021

                                                    14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

                                                    14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

                                                    Everyone has heard the term productivity, and people talk about it in terms of how high it is and how to improve it. But fewer know how to measure productivity, or even what exactly we are talking about when using the term “productivity.”

                                                    In its simplest form, the productivity formula looks like this: Output ÷ Input = Productivity.

                                                    For example, you have two salespeople each making 10 calls to customers per week. The first one averages 2 sales per week and the second one averages 3 sales per week. By plugging in the numbers we get the following productivity levels for each sales person.

                                                    For salesperson one, the output is 2 sales and the input is 10 sales: 2 ÷ 10 = .2 or 20% productivity. For salesperson two, the output is 3 sales and the input is 10 sales: 3 ÷ 10 = .3 or 30% productivity.

                                                    Knowing how to measure and interpret productivity is an invaluable asset for any manager or business owner in today’s world. As an example, in the above scenario, salesperson #1 is clearly not doing as well as salesperson #2.

                                                    Knowing this information we can now better determine what course of action to take with salesperson #1.

                                                    Some possible outcomes might be to require more in-house training for that salesperson, or to have them accompany the more productive salesperson to learn a better technique. It might be that salesperson #1 just isn’t suited for sales and would do a better job in a different position.

                                                    How to Measure Productivity With Management Techniques

                                                    Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to fine tune your business by minimizing costs and maximizing profits:

                                                    1. Identify Long and Short-Term Goals

                                                    Having a good understanding of what you (or your company’s) goals are is key to measuring productivity.

                                                    For example, if your company’s goal is to maximize market share, you’ll want to measure your team’s productivity by their ability to acquire new customers, not necessarily on actual sales made.

                                                    2. Break Down Goals Into Smaller Weekly Objectives

                                                    Your long-term goal might be to get 1,000 new customers in a year. That’s going to be 20 new customers per week. If you have 5 people on your team, then each one needs to bring in 4 new customers per week.

                                                    Now that you’ve broken it down, you can track each person’s productivity week-by-week just by plugging in the numbers:

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                                                    Productivity = number of new customers ÷ number of sales calls made

                                                    3. Create a System

                                                    Have you ever noticed that whenever you walk into a McDonald’s, the French fry machine is always to your left? 

                                                    This is because McDonald’s created a system. They have determined that the most efficient way to set up a kitchen is to always have the French fry machine on the left when you walk in.

                                                    You can do the same thing and just adapt it to your business.

                                                    Let’s say that you know that your most productive salespeople are making the most sales between the hours of 3 and 7 pm. If the other salespeople are working from 9 am to 4 pm, you can potentially increase productivity through something as simple as adjusting the workday.

                                                    Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to set up, monitor, and fine tune systems to maximize output.

                                                    4. Evaluate, Evaluate, Evaluate!

                                                    We’ve already touched on using these productivity numbers to evaluate and monitor your employees, but don’t forget to evaluate yourself using these same measurements.

                                                    If you have set up a system to track and measure employees’ performance, but you’re still not meeting goals, it may be time to look at your management style. After all, your management is a big part of the input side of our equation.

                                                    Are you more of a carrot or a stick type of manager? Maybe you can try being more of the opposite type to see if that changes productivity. Are you managing your employees as a group? Perhaps taking a more one-on-one approach would be a better way to utilize each individual’s strengths and weaknesses.

                                                    Just remember that you and your management style contribute directly to your employees’ productivity.

                                                    5. Use a Ratings Scale

                                                    Having clear and concise objectives for individual employees is a crucial part of any attempt to increase workplace productivity. Once you have set the goals or objectives, it’s important that your employees are given regular feedback regarding their progress.

                                                    Using a ratings scale is a good way to provide a standardized visual representation of progress. Using a scale of 1-5 or 1-10 is a good way to give clear and concise feedback on an individual basis.

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                                                    It’s also a good way to track long-term progress and growth in areas that need improvement.

                                                    6. Hire “Mystery Shoppers”

                                                    This is especially helpful in retail operations where customer service is critical. A mystery shopper can give feedback based on what a typical customer is likely to experience.

                                                    You can hire your own shopper, or there are firms that will provide them for you. No matter which route you choose, it’s important that the mystery shoppers have a standardized checklist for their evaluation.

                                                    You can request evaluations for your employees friendliness, how long it took to greet the shopper, employees’ knowledge of the products or services, and just about anything else that’s important to a retail operation.

                                                    7. Offer Feedback Forms

                                                    Using a feedback form is a great way to get direct input from existing customers. There are just a couple of things to keep in mind when using feedback forms.

                                                    First, keep the form short, 2-3 questions max with a space for any additional comments. Asking people to fill out a long form with lots of questions will significantly reduce the amount of information you receive.

                                                    Secondly, be aware that customers are much more likely to submit feedback forms when they are unhappy or have a complaint than when they are satisfied.

                                                    You can offset this tendency by asking everyone to take the survey at the end of their interaction. This will increase compliance and give you a broader range of customer experiences, which will help as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

                                                    8. Track Cost Effectiveness

                                                    This is a great metric to have, especially if your employees have some discretion over their budgets. You can track how much each person spends and how they spend it against their productivity.

                                                    Again, this one is easy to plug into the equation: Productivity = amount of money brought in ÷ amount of money spent.

                                                    Having this information is very useful in forecasting expenses and estimating budgets.

                                                    9. Use Self-Evaluations

                                                    Asking your staff to do self evaluations can be a win-win for everyone. Studies have shown that when employees feel that they are involved and their input is taken seriously, morale improves. And as we all know, high employee morale translates into higher productivity.

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                                                    Using self-evaluations is also a good way to make sure that the employees and employers goals are in alignment.

                                                    10. Monitor Time Management

                                                    This is the number one killer of productivity in the workplace. Time spent browsing the internet, playing games, checking email, and making personal calls all contribute to lower productivity[1].

                                                    Time Management Tips to Improve Productivity

                                                      The trick is to limit these activities without becoming overbearing and affecting morale. Studies have shown that most people will adhere to rules that they feel are fair and applied to everyone equally.

                                                      While ideally, we may think that none of these activities should be done on company time, employees will almost certainly have a different opinion. From a productivity standpoint, it is best to have policies and rules that are seen as fair to both sides as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

                                                      11. Analyze New Customer Acquisition

                                                      We’ve all heard the phrase that “It’s more expensive to get a new customer than it is to keep an existing one.” And while that is very true, in order for your business to keep growing, you will need to continually add new customers.

                                                      Knowing how to measure productivity via new customer acquisition will make sure that your marketing dollars are being spent in the most efficient way possible. This is another metric that’s easy to plug into the formula: Productivity = number of new customers ÷ amount of money spent to acquire those customers.

                                                      For example, if you run any kind of advertising campaign, you can compare results and base your future spending accordingly.

                                                      Let’s say that your total advertising budget is $3,000. You put $2,000 into television ads, $700 into radio ads, and $300 into print ads. When you track the results, you find that your television ad produced 50 new customers, your radio ad produced 15 new customers, and your print ad produced 9 new customers.

                                                      Let’s plug those numbers into our equation. Television produced 50 new customers at a cost of $2,000 (50 ÷ 2000 = .025, or a productivity rate of 2.5%). The radio ads produced 15 new customers and cost $700 (15 ÷ 700 = .022, or a 2.2% productivity rate). Print ads brought in 9 new customers and cost $300 (9 ÷ 300 = .03, or a 3% return on productivity).

                                                      From this analysis, it is clear that you would be getting the biggest bang for your advertising dollar using print ads.

                                                      12. Utilize Peer Feedback

                                                      This is especially useful when people who work in teams or groups. While self-assessments can be very useful, the average person is notoriously bad at assessing their own abilities.

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                                                      Just ask a room full of people how many consider themselves to be an above average driver and you’ll see 70% of the hands go up[2]! Now we clearly know that in reality about 25% of drivers are below average, 25% are above average, and 50% are average.

                                                      Are all these people lying? No, they just don’t have an accurate assessment of their own abilities.

                                                      It’s the same in the workplace. Using peer feedback will often provide a more accurate assessment of a person’s ability than a self-assessment would.

                                                      13. Encourage Innovation and Don’t Penalize Failure

                                                      When it comes to productivity, encouraging employee input and adopting their ideas can be a great way to boost productivity. Just make sure that any changes you adopt translate into higher productivity.

                                                      Let’s say that someone comes to you requesting an entertainment budget so that they can take potential customers golfing or out to dinner. By utilizing simple productivity metrics, you can easily produce a cost benefit analysis and either expand the program to the rest of the sales team, or terminate it completely.

                                                      Either way, you have gained valuable knowledge and boosted morale by including employees in the decision-making process.

                                                      14. Use an External Evaluator

                                                      Using an external evaluator is the pinnacle of objective evaluations. Firms that provide professional evaluations use highly trained personnel that even specialize in specific industries.

                                                      They will design a complete analysis of your business’ productivity level. In their final report, they will offer suggestions and recommendations on how to improve productivity.

                                                      While the benefits of a professional evaluation are many, their costs make them prohibitive for most businesses.

                                                      Final Thoughts

                                                      These are just a few of the things you can do when learning how to measure productivity. Some may work for your particular situation, and some may not.

                                                      The most important thing to remember when deciding how to track productivity is to choose a method consistent with your goals. Once you’ve decided on that, it’s just a matter of continuously monitoring your progress, making minor adjustments, and analyzing the results of those adjustments.

                                                      The business world is changing fast, and having the right tools to track and monitor your productivity can give you the edge over your competition.

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                                                      Featured photo credit: William Iven via unsplash.com

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