Having played key roles in driving innovation and success in digital businesses at The Wall Street Journal as their chief product & technology officer and at The New York Times as CTO, I’ve always been intrigued by what sets successful creators apart. It was in this pursuit of knowledge that I read my friend Amy Wilkinson’s book, “The Creator’s Code,” which has resonated with me deeply. As I continue my journey in the world of digital innovation, At the startup Some Spider, I found the insights from Amy’s book invaluable in helping me navigate the entrepreneurial challenges and opportunities.
In “The Creator’s Code,” Amy presents a well-researched and thoughtfully crafted exploration of the principles and strategies that drive success for entrepreneurs and innovators in our ever-evolving digital landscape. Drawing from her extensive experience and interviews with successful entrepreneurs, Amy provides readers with an insightful analysis of the challenges and opportunities faced by creators in this age of technological advancement.
Amy’s unique perspective and engaging writing style make the book both accessible and compelling. She breaks down intricate concepts into digestible, captivating narratives, setting her book apart from others in the field. One of the key contributions of “The Creator’s Code” is the identification of the Six Essential Skills that Amy believes are crucial for entrepreneurial success:
- Find the gap: This skill encourages creators to identify opportunities and unmet needs in the market, enabling them to develop innovative solutions that address these gaps. Amy shares inspiring stories of entrepreneurs who discovered new niches by observing customer pain points, conducting thorough research, and challenging the status quo.
- Drive for daylight: This principle emphasizes the importance of forward-thinking and focusing on the future, rather than getting bogged down by past failures or current challenges. Amy delves into the mindset of successful entrepreneurs who prioritize long-term vision, resilience, and adaptability to navigate through uncertainty and seize new opportunities.
- Fly the OODA loop: Standing for Observe, Orient, Decide, and Act, this skill highlights the need for rapid decision-making and adaptability in an ever-changing environment. Amy explores how top entrepreneurs use this military-inspired strategy to outpace their competition, make quick adjustments, and capitalize on emerging trends.
- Fail wisely: This essential skill teaches creators the importance of learning from failure, fostering a growth mindset, and iterating on their ideas to achieve success. Amy shares valuable lessons from entrepreneurs who have turned setbacks into stepping stones, embracing the process of trial and error to refine their ideas and develop successful ventures.
- Network minds: This principle emphasizes the value of collaboration and leveraging the collective intelligence of diverse teams to develop innovative solutions. Amy highlights the importance of building and nurturing relationships with diverse individuals who bring different perspectives, skills, and knowledge, fostering an environment of creativity and innovation.
- Gift small goods: This skill focuses on the power of generosity and the importance of nurturing relationships by offering help, advice, and support to others. Amy demonstrates how successful entrepreneurs create a culture of reciprocity by sharing their resources, insights, and expertise with others, ultimately benefiting the entire ecosystem.
In addition to the six essential skills covered in Amy Wilkinson’s book, she emphasizes the importance of asking questions in her workshops. This focus on inquiry is a critical component of innovation and entrepreneurial success. According to Amy, adults tend to ask significantly fewer questions than children, which can hinder their ability to think creatively and problem-solve.
In an article written by Sara Distin, it’s mentioned that kids ask a remarkable number of questions. Studies show that 4-year-olds can ask anywhere from 200 to 300 questions a day, and Warren Berger, author of “A More Beautiful Question,” states that children ask an average of 40,000 questions between the ages of 2 and 5 (link to article by Sara below). However, as children grow older and enter school, the number of questions they ask declines for various reasons, such as the perceived association between asking questions and not knowing something, which might be seen as uncool. It’s also worth noting that answering so many questions can be tiring for parents, and teachers are often more focused on ensuring their students know the answers rather than encouraging them to ask questions.
In light of these findings, Amy encourages aspiring entrepreneurs and innovators to reconnect with their childlike curiosity and practice asking questions. This can lead to fresh perspectives, uncover hidden opportunities, and ultimately drive success in business and life. By cultivating a questioning mindset, adults can regain the creative spark that so often fades as they age, opening doors to innovation and success.
Drawing from my own experiences working in both established media organizations and startups, I can personally attest to the relevance and significance of the topics Amy discusses. “The Creator’s Code” resonated with me on a personal level, as it serves as a valuable resource for professionals, entrepreneurs, and enthusiasts alike, offering a fresh and insightful perspective on what it takes to succeed in the world of innovation.
I highly recommend Amy Wilkinson’s “The Creator’s Code” to anyone interested in gaining a deeper understanding of the principles and strategies that drive success for creators in our digital age. Her expert analysis, engaging storytelling, and clear passion for the subject matter make this a must-read for anyone looking to unlock their creative potential and stay ahead in this ever-changing landscape.
Distin, Sara. The Decline of Questions: Why 4-Year-Olds Ask More Questions Than Adults. Source: https://www.noodle.com/articles/why-4-year-olds-ask-more-questions-than-adults-and-why-adults-should-start-asking-more
(Originally written in May 2019. Updated: May 2023)