Creative Confidence is a book by brothers Tom Kelly and David Kelley of IDEO. And that’s only to tell you what the book is called and who the authors are. The title barely begins to describe what the book did for me.

Disclaimer : I am an unabashed & old fan of IDEO. I see little, if anything, to criticize or find fault with anything that IDEO does or says. By extension, I am a fan of everyone who works there, and by further extension, I had already decided to love this book even before it was out. I’ve written about IDEO & my history with them earlier on this blog.

From the book’s website, “Too often, companies and individuals assume that creativity and innovation are the domain of the “creative types.” But two of the leading experts in innovation, design, and creativity on the planet show us that each and every one of us is creative. In an incredibly entertaining and inspiring narrative that draws on countless stories from their work at IDEO and with many of the world’s top companies…”

I read the book in three days – the fastest I’ve read a non-fiction book. Ever. And I was taking notes on the side – when I had a pen & paper close by, I wrote, when I didn’t, I tweeted. And when I found something too long to make a note of, I stuck Post-Its on the pages of the book.

The book is a reminder for me. And just when I need it. It doesn’t tell me anything new / anything I didn’t already know. And I understand that might not be the case with everyone – many readers will find a lot of “new” in the book – but I’ve always had a streak for trying out crazy things and understand the fundamental baseline that Tom & David have written the book from.

And like their dedication of the book to their parents, I owe a large deal of my creative confidence to my parents as well. My father for always encouraging no matter what and my mother for never missing a chance to tell me I was being a fool. Both drove me incessantly forward in my quest to be the whole person I knew I had the potential to be. ( I’m not saying I’m there yet – the journey is life long I’m happy to report! )

It’s a beautiful-looking book. The paper is just splendid! No really – I’m not one to wax lyrical about the quality of paper in a book because normally it’s just standard stuff – but with this book, they did go overboard with the paper it’s printed on. Even my Dad remarked, “Wow. Nice paper.” We’re both stationery-fiends so we notice these things rather diligently.

Just to clarify, the colorful sticky tabs you see on the side of the book? Those are mine – they did not come with the book. Fittingly enough, all Post-It tabs.

Each chapter starts with a colorful illustration that captures the essence of that particular chapter.

This, above, was one of the things that I remember from the book clearly. Finding the sweet spot of feasibility, viability and desirability. So simple!
The section below reminded me of the red pill or blue pill question from The Matrix movies.

Everyone can draw! Stick figures FTW.

Some of the notes I made in my Moleskine. *Excerpts*

Take more shots at the goal. That is the surprising, compelling mathematics of innovation : if you want more success, you have to be prepared to shrug off more failure.”

Tradition of learning from enlightened trial and error. ( Page 42 )

( Totally made me want to find out more about an internship at IDEO or a workshop at the Stanford )

Each preferred to sit in his chair rather than risk being critiqued by his peers. ( Page 62 )

The biggest hurdle is going down the slide that first time. ( Page 64 )
( Reminded me of my first – and only, so far – skydive. It took all I had. And the moment I touched the ground, I wanted to do it again! But it’s been more than two years now – a big gap – so, predictably, I’m going to be scared again. LESSON : keep doing it and often. )

Create an eclectic portfolio of short and long-term ideas, with varying potential for risk and reward. ( Page 80 )

We’ve found that figuring out what other people actually need is what leads to the most significant innovations. ( Page 85 )

Empathy means challenging your preconceived ideas and setting aside your sense of what you think is true in order to learn what actually is true. ( Page 90 )

When you spot a contradiction between what you see and what you expect, it is a sign that you should dig deeper. ( Page 91 )

As a photographer, I can see myself going over the section above. I provide a service to my clients and I need to up my game constantly so they may derive maximum value from them.

This above? I’m going to be using that to add more color to my workspace. The layout is quite fixed but there’s so much I could do with the walls. I already have a whiteboard and a supply of Post-Its to last a lifetime. I really need to do more quick prototyping for my shoots.

Well lookie here! They recommend mindmaps! I love mindmaps! But looking at the example they have shared, I can improve my mindmapping-game so much more!
They’ve shared a bunch of Creativity Challenges and there’s something for everyone. I intend to try them one at a time.

As you can hopefully tell by now, this book is not an instructional step-by-step manual on how to be more creative or how to up your creative confidence. It’s more a narrative of how Tom and David see the world. It is an entertaining read with nuggets of gold as you progress from page to page – you can already see all those colorful Post-It tabs I managed to stick!

Oh look! There’s something different about the book jacket! Small touches like these always excite me! And this is the first edition of the book – so it comes with this custom-designer book jacket – and I found this out only after I’d finished reading.

Oooh! Stickers!


I signed up for OpenIDEO. I’m not sure what I’m going to do or how I’m going to find the time but now that I’ve signed up, I can find out.

I am planning to take the 90 minute virtual crash course in Design Thinking at the Stanford Probably over a weekend in November. After I’ve done that, I’m going to evaluate whether I might actually consider signing up for a real course at the by being present there physically. I know I would like to but finding the resources to do that will take some thought.

I am no longer a wedding photographer as it wasn’t fulfilling my soul and I was not being my true creative self. I had been considering shutting down that side of the “business” for a while but reading Creative Confidence ( and the #EyesForLondon trip ) helped me drive in the final nail in the coffin and it’s bye-bye wedding photography! So excited.


I’m posting all the tweets I did while I was reading the book. There’s quite a few so scroll patiently.

Creative Confidence by Tom & David Kelley in the mail today! Thank you @ideo #Book— Naina (@Naina) October 21, 2013

#CreativeConfidence #Illustration #IDEO #BookReview— Naina (@Naina) October 21, 2013

"Creative confidence is like muscle – it can be strengthened & nurtured through effort & experience." #CreativeConfidence— Naina (@Naina) October 21, 2013

"… relentless practice creates a database of experience that you can draw upon to make more enlightened choices." #CreativeConfidence— Naina (@Naina) October 22, 2013

Deciding for creativity does not guarantee that creativity will emerge, but without the decision, it certainly will not. #CreativeConfidence— Naina (@Naina) October 22, 2013

Creativity seldom follows the path of least resistance. You need to deliberately choose creativity. #CreativeConfidence— Naina (@Naina) October 22, 2013

Everywhere (you) go, … think "Isn't that interesting?" rather than "I already know about that." #CreativeConfidence— Naina (@Naina) October 22, 2013

… the more fresh new ideas cross your field of vision each day, the greater your insights will be. #CreativeConfidence— Naina (@Naina) October 22, 2013

… it's hard to gain competitive advantage if you and your competitors are consuming all the same data. #CreativeConfidence— Naina (@Naina) October 22, 2013

Lots of Post-Its tabs & notes coming along nicely on the #CreativeConfidence book #IDEO— Naina (@Naina) October 22, 2013

Informed intuition is useful only if it is based on information that's accurate and up to date. #RefreshInsights #CreativeConfidence— Naina (@Naina) October 22, 2013

My tweets are all over the #CreativeConfidence website! @kelleybros Loving the book so far!— Naina (@Naina) October 22, 2013

Whoa! Neat! RT @LovingOurPics: @Naina I just found it via your tweets, have ordered it. #CreativeConfidence— Naina (@Naina) October 22, 2013

It's not what you don't know that gets you into trouble, it's what you know for sure that ain't so. #MarkTwain #CreativeConfidence— Naina (@Naina) October 22, 2013

If a problem is not worth solving, it is not worth solving well. #AskTheRightQuestion #Reframe #CreativeConfidence— Naina (@Naina) October 22, 2013

People don't want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole! #ReframeTheQuestion #CreativeConfidence— Naina (@Naina) October 22, 2013

You have to first acknowledge – at least to yourself – that you don't have all the answers. #CreativeConfidence— Naina (@Naina) October 23, 2013

Le hasard ne favorise que les esprits préparés. Louis Pasteur. ( Chance favors only the prepared mind. ) #CreativeConfidence— Naina (@Naina) October 23, 2013

Chance favors people who do lots of experiments & then pay very close attention when something unexpected happens. #CreativeConfidence— Naina (@Naina) October 23, 2013

"a body at rest tends to stay at rest; a body in motion tends to stay in motion" True for people & projects too. #Newton #CreativeConfidence— Naina (@Naina) October 23, 2013

The most effective way I've found to practice design thinking is by showing, not telling. John Keefe. #CreativeConfidence— Naina (@Naina) October 23, 2013

To achieve your goal, to topple the barriers that stand in your way, you have to be focused on getting it done NOW. #CreativeConfidence— Naina (@Naina) October 23, 2013

.@viran94 It is a constant process. I do it all the time – lately more consciously & with purpose. The book is great. #CreativeConfidence— Naina (@Naina) October 23, 2013

It is hard to be "best" right away, so commit to rapid & continuous improvements. #CreativeConfidence— Naina (@Naina) October 23, 2013

"Don't get ready, get started!" Perry Klebahn. #CreativeConfidence— Naina (@Naina) October 23, 2013

What constraints make your job impossible? Use those as a source of creative license, as permission to think differently #CreativeConfidence— Naina (@Naina) October 23, 2013

More you invest in a prototype & the closer to "final" it is, the harder it is to let go of a concept that's not working #CreativeConfidence— Naina (@Naina) October 23, 2013

… think about your life & career as just another creative challenge, many different possibilities come to live. #CreativeConfidence— Naina (@Naina) October 25, 2013

To make that leap from inspiration to action, small successes are key. #CreativeConfidence— Naina (@Naina) October 25, 2013

… one powerful way to commit to a new path is to just say it out loud to someone else. #CreativeConfidence— Naina (@Naina) October 25, 2013

Some psychologists claim that you have to practice a new behavior for 21 days before it begins to become a habit. #CreativeConfidence— Naina (@Naina) October 26, 2013

The operative word is "practice". The weeks, months, or years spent 'thinking' about new behaviors don't count. #CreativeConfidence— Naina (@Naina) October 26, 2013

A bunch of exercises to do in the #CreativeConfidence book. First one is Mimdmaps! Hurray because I already use those a lot!— Naina (@Naina) October 26, 2013

… there is nothing made by human beings that does not involve a design decision somewhere. Bill Moggridge. #CreativeConfidence— Naina (@Naina) October 26, 2013

Societal pressures & corporate norms nudge us toward ideas & behaviors that are "appropriate" or expected. #CreativeConfidence— Naina (@Naina) October 26, 2013

Normalcy is overrated. #CreativeConfidence— Naina (@Naina) October 26, 2013

I literally blazed through the #CreativeConfidence book by @kelleybros Probably the quickest I've ever read a non-fiction book! Loved it.— Naina (@Naina) October 26, 2013

And that’s me! With the book jacket all opened up. Check out that smile on my face! I LOVED the book!

Get the book! ( Flipkart ) ( Amazon )

The book is already an NYTimes best-seller! Thank you IDEO for sending me a copy of the book!