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An enthusiastic examination of the creative process.

A Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist explores creativity.

In his latest investigation, New York Times reporter Richtel does not limit himself to artistic or scientific inspiration, emphasizing that creativity is an inborn human trait as natural as reproduction. “Creativity is…part of our more primitive physiology,” he writes. “It comes from the cellular level, part of our most essential survival machinery. We are creativity machines.” The result may not be a work of genius, but it is always characterized by originality, novelty, and meaning. As Richtel shows, it can also be disruptive, not always in a good way, and it invariably changes how we relate to the world. It’s common knowledge that children possess open minds with creative imaginations, “generating random thoughts, concepts logical and mad.” Unfortunately, according to pioneering studies, education, peer pressure, and parenting often quash this inborn creativity, resulting in the popular label “Fourth Grade Slump.” Not every expert agrees, but it’s a catchy phrase that undoubtedly contains an element of truth. “The number one enemy of creativity is perfectionism,” writes Richtel. “There isn’t even a close second-place enemy.” In that vein, the author stresses the importance of permission. Research reveals a surprisingly laissez faire attitude in parents of creative children who raise them with far fewer rules. Studies also show that creativity doesn’t necessarily follow along with IQ, but openness and curiosity are critical. Richtel presents a host of illuminating interviews with gifted individuals happy to reveal their insights. He pays closest attention to singer Rhiannon Giddens and cellist Yo-Yo Ma, but he also includes an entertaining chapter on Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr, who is “exceedingly open in a jock culture that can be very closed.” There is no shortage of inspiring advice, as Richtel’s definition of creativity broadens as the narrative proceeds. Eventually, it includes a vast swath of human behavior. Despite the author’s warning that this is not a self-help book, readers will learn more about achieving personal fulfillment than the secrets of pure genius.

An enthusiastic examination of the creative process.

Pub Date: April 19, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-063-02553-0

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Mariner Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2022

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Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...

A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner summarizes and synthesizes the recent decades of research on intuition and systematic thinking.

The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman (Emeritus Psychology and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. He begins with the distinction between System 1 and System 2 mental operations, the former referring to quick, automatic thought, the latter to more effortful, overt thinking. We rely heavily, writes, on System 1, resorting to the higher-energy System 2 only when we need or want to. Kahneman continually refers to System 2 as “lazy”: We don’t want to think rigorously about something. The author then explores the nuances of our two-system minds, showing how they perform in various situations. Psychological experiments have repeatedly revealed that our intuitions are generally wrong, that our assessments are based on biases and that our System 1 hates doubt and despises ambiguity. Kahneman largely avoids jargon; when he does use some (“heuristics,” for example), he argues that such terms really ought to join our everyday vocabulary. He reviews many fundamental concepts in psychology and statistics (regression to the mean, the narrative fallacy, the optimistic bias), showing how they relate to his overall concerns about how we think and why we make the decisions that we do. Some of the later chapters (dealing with risk-taking and statistics and probabilities) are denser than others (some readers may resent such demands on System 2!), but the passages that deal with the economic and political implications of the research are gripping.

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-27563-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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These are not hard and fast rules, but Meyer delivers important reading for those engaged in international business.

A helpful guide to working effectively with people from other cultures.

“The sad truth is that the vast majority of managers who conduct business internationally have little understanding about how culture is impacting their work,” writes Meyer, a professor at INSEAD, an international business school. Yet they face a wider array of work styles than ever before in dealing with clients, suppliers and colleagues from around the world. When is it best to speak or stay quiet? What is the role of the leader in the room? When working with foreign business people, failing to take cultural differences into account can lead to frustration, misunderstanding or worse. Based on research and her experiences teaching cross-cultural behaviors to executive students, the author examines a handful of key areas. Among others, they include communicating (Anglo-Saxons are explicit; Asians communicate implicitly, requiring listeners to read between the lines), developing a sense of trust (Brazilians do it over long lunches), and decision-making (Germans rely on consensus, Americans on one decider). In each area, the author provides a “culture map scale” that positions behaviors in more than 20 countries along a continuum, allowing readers to anticipate the preferences of individuals from a particular country: Do they like direct or indirect negative feedback? Are they rigid or flexible regarding deadlines? Do they favor verbal or written commitments? And so on. Meyer discusses managers who have faced perplexing situations, such as knowledgeable team members who fail to speak up in meetings or Indians who offer a puzzling half-shake, half-nod of the head. Cultural differences—not personality quirks—are the motivating factors behind many behavioral styles. Depending on our cultures, we understand the world in a particular way, find certain arguments persuasive or lacking merit, and consider some ways of making decisions or measuring time natural and others quite strange.

These are not hard and fast rules, but Meyer delivers important reading for those engaged in international business.

Pub Date: May 27, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-61039-250-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2014

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