• Contents
  • Physical Copy (Hardback)
  • Amazon (Hardback / Kindle)
  • Email Me
  • Card Number
    Card Number
  • 1. Introduction
  • 2. Philosophy
  • 3. Frank's Story
  • 4. Information
  • 5. Experiences
  • 6. Three Stories
  • 7. Flying Machine
  • 8. Epilogue
  • 9. Bonus Track
  • +.

    Forget originality.^500 The term is garbage.^500 Ideas are not original.^600
    Ideas are made from stuff.^700 They are made from every little
    thing you have ever put inside your head.^800
    This book is about the people who put stuff inside their head.^700
    I call them consumers.^700 They devour old films,^100
    new films,^100 music,^100 books,^100 random conversations...^1000
    First they consume^300 and then they steal what they have consumed.^1200
    In writing this book I have practised this philosophy. ^800
    I have drawn consciously and unconsciously from one million
    outside sources.^1100 My ideas are nothing more than a new
    combination of old elements.^1100 I have highlighted the text I
    have stolen to demonstrate this principle.^800
    Appreciate how heavily we are influenced by what we consume.^800
    If any author was totally honest their work would look like this.

    Forget originality. The term is garbage. Ideas are not original.
    Ideas are made from stuff. They are made from every little
    thing you have ever put inside your head.
    This book is about the people who put stuff inside their head.
    I call them consumers. They devour old films,
    new films, music, books, random conversations...
    First they consume and then they steal what they have consumed.
    In writing this book I have practised this philosophy.
    I have drawn consciously and unconsciously from one million
    outside sources. My ideas are nothing more than a new
    combination of old elements. I have highlighted the text I
    have stolen to demonstrate this principle.
    Appreciate how heavily we are influenced by what we consume.
    If any author was totally honest their work would look like this.


    The consumers’ philosophy is simple: if you want to increase the
    quality of your work – your output – you must increase the level
    of your inputs. Your input is knowledge. The more pieces of
    knowledge you have at your disposal, the greater the opportunity
    for explosive connections and the better ideas you will create.
    It is that simple.
    Knowledge can come from information. It is what you learn from
    books, blogs, documentaries, films, radio, podcasts.
    Knowledge can also come from experiences. This type of
    knowledge can’t be read about in a book. You have to discover
    it for yourself. It is as simple as watching the sun come up in the
    morning or asking the cashier about their day or volunteering for
    the RSPCA.
    First you choose what to consume and then you consume it
    properly. This is how you populate your mind with valuable
    pieces of knowledge.

    And that is is all that creativity is: populating your mind with
    valuable pieces of knowledge which rotate, invert, evolve, and
    finally combine to produce new ideas.
    There is no shortcut. Ideas do not magically pop into your head.
    You have to put them there. You construct them block by block,
    chunk by chunk, using all the information and experiences that
    you have taken in. The process is just as definite as the production
    of Ford cars on an assembly line.


    Everyone takes in information and experiences. It is impossible not
    to. But it is the type of information and experiences that you take in
    that differentiates the consumers.
    Frank is twenty years old. He drives to work every morning, Capital
    FM playing. Work starts and Frank attends a few meetings before
    firing off some emails. Lunch break hits and he checks Facebook.
    Frank reads about his 271 friends: what parties they are attending,
    where they went on their last holiday, their views on the latest
    election. Frank arrives back from work, turns on the T.V. and
    watches a re-run of Top Gear. Gordon Ramsay is the star in the
    reasonably priced car. Ramsay talks about his latest series of
    ‘Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares’ and has some banter with Jeremy
    Clarkson about women drivers. He goes round the track in one
    minute fifty-four seconds. The crowd applauds.
    Next day, during lunch, Frank has a conversation about last night’s
    Top Gear episode. The same people say the same things. Frank
    makes a joke about Clarkson being ‘the blokes’ bloke’. The joke
    has been told before. But it still gets a good reception.


    The days are long, but the years are short. One morning, Frank
    wakes up and he has turned sixty. Forty years hitting him in one
    big birthday. Frank blows out some candles. Happy 60th.
    How you spend each day is how you spend your life.
    What you consume in this hour and then the next is what your
    mind ends up being made from.
    Read obituaries. Learn JavaScript. Go camping. Keep a journal.
    I am urging you to do stuff. If you do stuff, you fill your mind with
    stuff. And that is what ideas are made from.
    Day in and day out the best consumers are doing stuff. They are
    consuming more useful information and experiences. They have
    a greater quality and quantity of knowledge in their minds and so
    they can make more explosive connections.
    They aren’t more creative. They produce great work because they
    have consumed great work.


    The hen lays just one egg each day. And the rest of the time, she
    goes around and she feeds on things that fuel the next egg.
    Do not crowd your day with excessive labour. Go out into the
    world and gather your raw materials.
    Let your curiosity guide you. Let it take you down alley after alley
    regardless of whether they appear blind or not. Be intrigued by
    cloud formation, by hieroglyphics, by the rules of badminton. Pile
    up information, both specific and miscellaneous. And one day it
    will return to you tenfold.
    The things that you put inside your head are like lego blocks. If
    you are trying to build with just with one shape and one colour
    your creations will always be limited. The more blocks you
    have and the more diverse their shapes and colours, the more
    interesting castles you can build.

    The more information you consume, the more knowledge you will
    possess, and the greater scope you will have for arriving at striking
    combinations. And that is all creativity is: combining seemingly
    unrelated pieces of knowledge to form a new concept.
    Everything is a remix. Being a consumer is just making sure you
    know all the best tracks so your remix sounds good. You are only
    as good as your record collection.


    If you are just a consumer of information, there is nothing you can
    tell anyone that can’t be read in a book.
    If I asked you about art you would give me the skinny on every art
    book ever written. Michelangelo, you know a lot about him. Life’s
    work, political aspiration, him and the Pope, sexual orientation, the
    whole works, right? But I’ll bet you can’t tell me what it smells like
    in the Sistine Chapel. You’ve never actually stood there and looked
    up at that beautiful ceiling.
    If I asked you about war, you’d probably throw Shakespeare at me,
    right? ‘Once more unto the breach, dear friends.’ But you’ve never
    been near one.
    You couldn’t tell me what it feels like, you could only tell me what
    Shakespeare has told you it feels like.
    On the 23rd June 1916 Wilfred Owen was struck by trench mortar.

    For three days he was left, unconscious on an embankment,
    lying amongst the remains of one of his fellow officers. Shortly
    afterwards Owen was diagnosed with Shell Shock and sent to
    Craiglockhart War Hospital in Edinburgh where he began to
    write about his experiences.

    In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
    He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.
    If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
    Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
    And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
    His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
    If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
    Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
    Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
    Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,—
    My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
    To children ardent for some desperate glory,
    The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
    Pro patria mori.

    Owen’s poetry was not particularly original. His style was heavily
    influenced by his mentor Siegfried Sasoon.


    But originality is non-existent. It is authenticity which is
    invaluable. And Owen’s words were authentic.
    He was telling you what he had seen and heard rather than
    regurgitating what some old war poet had seen or heard.
    The experiences you consume do not have to be as remarkable as
    fighting in a world war.
    Iron some clothes. Walk the dog. Write a letter.
    Talk to someone on the bus.
    Sign up for a open-mic stand up spot at The Pig & Whistle. Jump
    up on the stage and tell some jokes.
    The best experiences see you throw yourself into the current,
    knowing that you may sink. The great majority lower themselves
    into the current with life-preservers around their necks, unaware
    that more often than not it is the life-preserver which sinks them.
    Go get yourself some roller skates and join your local roller derby.


    The artist was sitting on a park bench and a lady came up to him
    and asked him to sketch a portrait. After studying her for a moment
    the artist used a single pencil stroke and handed the artwork to the
    woman a few seconds later.
    “It’s beautiful,” exclaimed the lady. “You have captured my whole
    essence in just one stroke. Thank you.”
    The lady got out her wallet and asked the artist how much it would
    cost to buy the painting.
    “10000 lira!” he exclaimed.
    “But it only took you a few seconds,” argued the lady.
    The artist smiled, and responded, “No, Madame, it took me my
    whole life.”
    The author woke up suddenly. More benzedrine, cigarettes, bowls of
    pea soup and mugs of coffee to keep him going. He began telling his
    story. Seven thousand words. Flat out. Then another seven thousand.
    And then another. Three weeks later his book was finished.


    The literary critics began circling. They were a calculative group
    who would deliberate over every adverb, craft every simile, and
    tear up draft after draft until they thought their work was perfect.
    And so when they heard about this book that had been written in
    just three weeks they dismissed it. They said that the author ‘could
    not be a writer at all, but just a typer’.
    The author tried to explain that he didn’t feel like he had really
    written the book at all, just that he saw a few things and then it all
    became quite obvious. That he could better connect experiences
    and synthesise new thoughts simply because he had had more
    experiences and thought about them more. The author explained
    that he could write fast because life on the road was fast.
    But the literary critics didn’t understand what he meant. They
    didn’t understand the value of diverse experiences. No matter how
    long they slaved away behind their typewriters they would never
    have enough interesting dots to connect together and write about.
    The author was on the road for seven years before he wrote his
    book. He had experienced what it was like to live. That’s why he

    wrote one of the most influential books of all time. The literary
    critics spent those seven years behind a typewriter, bleeding out the
    words for their reviews drop by drop.
    They tried to write before they had lived.That’s why they would
    only ever write about one of the most influential books of all time.
    It was late in the day and still very hot. A long afternoon of
    speeches, song and prayer, and finally the orator stepped up to
    the lectern, ready to address the 250,000 people who had gathered
    outside the Lincoln Memorial.
    He began slowly, reminding the audience of the Declaration of
    Independence, before condeming the state of race relations. The
    crowd listened attentively.
    Suddenly, during the seventh paragraph of his speech, something
    incredible began to happen. The orator paused and pushed the
    remarks he had prepared to one side. He started launching into
    sentences blindly, not knowing how he would finish them.

    He started talking about his dream.
    And how can it be that the greatest speech ever written was not
    ‘ever written’ at all?
    But it is true. The orator makes the second half of his speech up in
    the moment.
    He makes it up in the moment and in every experience he has
    consumed along the way. Every time he was forced to stand up on
    the bus to make way for the white man, every week he spent in jail
    through standing up for his beliefs, every letter he ever wrote to
    his African American civil rights brothers and sisters, every night
    he stayed up late twisting words together on hotel napkins, and
    every morning he got up early to deliver these same words to
    church congregations.
    The orator makes his speech up in the moment and he also makes it
    up from every piece of information and every experience that has
    ever travelled through his mind.

    And yet when people talk of the artist, the author and the orator
    they tell a slightly different story. They like to talk about three
    geniuses. Three naturals who were placed on this earth to show
    off their gift.
    They prefer this story because it gives them an alibi. They
    convince themselves that only a chosen few are marked out for
    greatness. And this becomes their excuse. Their reason not to try.
    But look one step beyond ‘genius’. Think of the author who spent
    night after night analysing Shakespeare or the orator who covered
    every mile of America to protest about segregation laws. And it is
    clear that there is a far more basic similarity that ties together the
    greatest producers of all time.
    They are also the greatest consumers of all time.


    The dots connect perfectly and you finally see it. Michelangelo saw
    David, J. K. Rowling saw Harry Potter, Orvill and Wilbur Wright
    saw a flying machine.
    When the dots connect perfectly, what you see is the result of years
    and years of knowledge accumulation. It is called your ‘eureka
    moment’ but it has taken a lifetime to construct. Day by day, hour
    by hour, you are unconsciously laying the foundations through the
    type of information and experiences which you choose to consume.
    That is my message.
    Be a consumer. Take in information and experiences. Trust that the
    the sum of knowledge inside your head will work everything out.
    You will see your David, your Harry Potter, your flying machine.


    And whatever you see, it is possible for you to create.
    Your mind will never give you the idea without also giving you the
    power to execute it.
    Are you kidding me?
    No, I’m not kidding you sport. That’s why I’m not talking about
    some idea for a book I had twenty years ago and how I always
    regretted not following through and writing it.


    I used to drop in on extra classes for the fun of it. There was this
    calligraphy class which I was fascinated by. It didn’t have a hope
    of any practical application in my life but I would go every week
    and learn about serif and sans-serif typefaces, different letter
    spacing, proportionally spaced fonts. Ten years later when we were
    designing the first Macintosh computer it all came back to me. And
    we designed it all into the Mac.
    Mum knitted me a special suit and we drove down to the Yuk
    Yuk Club in Toronto which was a sort of open-mic stand up
    comedy night. They called my name and I walked up to the stage,
    feeling pretty nervous, I was just fourteen at the time. I tried a few
    impressions and before I knew it the audience were booing and the
    manager pulled me off.
    All my friends said they wanted to be writers but I don’t think
    they really wanted to be writers. They would spend all their time

    talking and talking about these big ideas but nothing actually ever
    happened. They never wrote more than a few chapters.
    And I think that was something I did right. I would always be
    writing. Even when I had nothing to write about I would sit behind
    this old typewriter and re-type all of the old classics. I started with
    The Great Gatsby which took about four solid days. From cover
    to cover. And then A Farewell to Arms. And then some Norman
    Mailer. This went on for a few years. I needed to know what it felt
    like to write a masterpiece.
    I used to visit churches a lot, for the history and to look at the
    designs and architecture. Often they’d be locked but there would
    be a sign saying which house to knock on to get the key. It always
    seemed like too much effort so we just ended up walking back
    home. Then I asked myself why I could never be bothered, and I
    didn’t really know.
    So this one time I read the sign and it said that the key was in a
    house about half a mile down the road so I headed for it. It turns

    out that the people had moved and the key wasn’t there so I
    couldn’t get inside the church. But that’s not the point.
    Everything is contained in the details, the small victories, the actions
    of the everyday.
    It is impossible to just ‘be’ anything.
    You can’t just ‘be’ one of the greatest innovators of all time. But you
    can drop in on an extra calligraphy class every day before college.
    You can’t just ‘be’ one of the greatest movie stars of all time. But
    you can walk into the Yuk Yuk club as a fifteen year old boy and
    embarrass yourself performing stand up comedy.
    You can’t just ‘be’ one of the greatest authors of all time. But you can
    spend your weekend copying out The Great Gatsby word by word.
    You can’t just ‘be’ anything. You can only do things.

    My friends often ask me why am I bothering to write a book, why
    am I bothering to learn web development, why am I bothering
    starting my own business? I tell them that Steve Jobs did these sorts
    of things. And they tell me that I’m not Steve Jobs.
    Sometimes, when I’m questioning myself, I like to imagine what
    Steve Jobs would have been like at twenty-one years old. I have
    this vision of him ignoring the herd, pulling apart electronics in the
    family garage, dropping in on extra calligraphy classes for the sake
    of it. And his friends are asking him, ‘Why are you bothering with
    all this stuff, Steve?’ And Steve tells his friends that Henry Ford
    would do these sorts of things. And his friends would tell him, ‘But
    Steve, you’re not Henry Ford.’
    Genius is the product of the hopes and longings of ordinary
    people. Destiny is a load of rubbish. Steve Jobs didn’t just
    ‘become’ the greatest. And neither did Henry Ford. They woke
    up everyday, walked half a mile further than everyone else and
    fetched the key to the church.