UPDATE: Thank you so much to everyone for your questions. I have to run to finish up the semester with my students, but let's stay connected on Twitter: https://twitter.com/tseelig, or Medium: https://medium.com/@tseelig. Hope to see you there.

My short bio: Professor in the Department of Management Science and Engineering at Stanford's School of Engineering, and executive director of the Stanford Technology Ventures Program. In 2009, I was awarded the Gordon Prize from the National Academy of Engineering for my work in engineering education. I love helping people unleash their entrepreneurial spirit through innovation and creativity. So much so that I just published a new book about it, called Insight Out: Get Ideas Out of Your Head and Into the World.

My Proof: Imgur

Comments: 1299 • Responses: 30  • Date: 

NorbitGorbit1101 karma

what's the worst idea you've seen that went on to become the most successful?

TinaSeelig2094 karma

There are seeds of something interesting in all ideas... One of my favorite exercises it ask teams to come up with the worst idea for a particular challenges - such as restaurant ideas, a family vacation, or ways to save water during the drought. The, I give that terrible idea to another team and that team has to turn the idea into something amazingly great... They do so all the time! The terrible idea unlocks some really interesting opportunities. I write about this exercise in detail in What I Wish I Knew When I Was 20.

sainthollow732 karma

Do you have any tips on navigating through procrastination and burn-out?

TinaSeelig1575 karma

Procrastination is interesting... You can mine it to determine why you aren't doing what you say to yourself that you want to accomplish. There is always something getting in the way. By being honest with yourself, you unlock reasons for your lack of action. Some questions to ask... Are you really motivated to achieve the goal, or is it someone else's goal for you? Or, if you reach that goal, what other opportunities will it unlock?

Angetaylor381 karma

What's missing in Ecosystems to engage high school students in looking for opportunities in Entrepreneurship? Thank you

TinaSeelig610 karma

LOTS! The first thing is open ended problems without a right answer. They need to be given opportunities to follow their own interests and come up with unique solutions. I am a huge fan of Don Wettrick in Indiana who teaches high school... He gives his students a chance to pick projects of their own choosing and then provides them with tools to tackle them.

JeanVidoq267 karma

If creativity can be improved, whats your favorite individual method for exercising the creative muscle?

TinaSeelig540 karma

Creativity is applying your imagination to address a challenge. This requires both motivation and experimentation. So, the best way to improve your creativity is to tap into your motivation (no matter how small it is) and to begin experimenting. This can be as easy as seeing how you feel after getting different amount so sleep, or how your colleagues respond to you when you greet them in different ways. These small experiments tune up your creative problem solving abilities.

rkj1909240 karma

The million dollar question : can creativity Be taught ?

TinaSeelig350 karma

YOU BET!!! That is what I spend my time doing, with remarkable results. In fact, that is the theme of my new book, Insight Out.... It is predicated on the fact that we need a crystal clear set of definitions and relationships for the creative process in order to teach, learn, and master these skills. This is similar to math, physics, and music.... It is also something we NEED to teach everyone.

patanoster181 karma

What advice do you have for dealing with the frustration when inevitable blocks in the creative process occur? And another question, not an easy one... what would you say is the best way to deal with failed ideas?

TinaSeelig391 karma

I love questions about failure! Nobody wants to fail, but is is inevitable when you are doing something that you haven't done before - or that nobody has done before. The key is to learn from each failure and treat it as data. Scientists do this all the time - the data you get propels you forward. If you don't mine your failures for meaningful data, you are doomed to repeat them.

patanoster103 karma

Thanks! The hardest bit is to overcome the emotional attachment to a doomed idea...

TinaSeelig280 karma

Yes, but if you approach the first trial as an experiment, then all results are good. Folks get wedded to their ideas too early.

guineapigcalledSteve173 karma

they say:

"Just start writing".

Do you agree?

TinaSeelig324 karma

You bet!! I throw out most of my early writing for all my books. That doesn't mean it wasn't valuable. It was a way to warm up my brain and to get the ideas flowing. The first ideas are always incremental, then the next wave gets more interesting, and then I am on a roll.

lilbaneling148 karma

What are some examples of the best ideas you've fostered?

TinaSeelig438 karma

I don't keep track of anybody's ideas besides my own... It is up to each to us use our creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship skills to bring out ideas to fruition... I have had many students go on to do remarkable things, such as starting Instagram, as well as those who become neurosurgeons and educators. I don't take credit for their accomplishments, but am delighted that they used what they learned in our program to manifest their own dreams.

benchchch66 karma

Very cool! I'll have to get this book. I write and produce music. Recently I ride a wave of creativity and then hit a block. Where everything I hear everywhere sounds like trash including my work. Then I take time off to cool off and when I return the project seems unmanageable. Any tips to getting past that block? Edit: Another question: Is there a paperback version of the book?

TinaSeelig82 karma

Thanks for your question... The easy part: the book is our in hardcover, ebook, and audio. No paperback yet. :)

Blocks are normal for everyone. One valuable tool is to use that time for really focused observation. Active engagement is the first step in all creative endeavors. With focused attention you will see opportunities that you didn't see when you were actively working on a project. Make notes on what you observe, and to opportunities they unlock. Hope that is helpful.

NorbitGorbit63 karma

what have you taught or written before that you've changed your mind about since?

TinaSeelig157 karma

Luck... I used to think that luck happens to you, but realized that we make our own luck. There are zillions of things we do each day that make us lucky or unlucky. By being actively engaged we see opportunities that are hidden in plain view.

volitionwise50 karma

There are many books on unleashing creativity, how is yours different than the others? Thanks!

TinaSeelig50 karma

This new book provides a clear framework on going from inspiration to implementation, following the entire pathway from the seeds of an idea all the way to bringing it to the world. I'd love to know what you think, and if you find it useful. :)

yinbk42 karma

Many students struggle with articulating their ideas. What might help them to express their ideas?

TinaSeelig65 karma

Expression comes in all different forms. Some students are very verbal, but others are better at expressing their ideas in pictures, or even movement. I like to provide students with the opportunity to present their ideas any way they like.. For example, in my class this quarter the students' final assignment is to capture what they learned in the course in any way they want. Can't wait to see what is in store tomorrow!

rafael00038 karma

what's today's most common mistake when putting an idea into practice?

TinaSeelig76 karma

The model I present in Insight Out describes a series of steps from ideas to actions. Each step requires more effort than the one before.

Imagination requires engaging and envisioning what might be different. Creativity is applying your imagination to solve a problem. This requires motivation and experimentation. Innovation is applying creativity to come up with unique solutions. This requires focus and reframing. And, entrepreneurship is applying innovations to bring the to the world. This requires persistence and inspiring others.

The place where people usually fail is not having the attitude needed to move through this process. You need to be motivated, focused, and persistent. Without this, you don't experiment, reframe, and inspire others. Hope that helps.

codyrussel29 karma

Hi Tina: I'm a teacher, have taught my courses at high school and college and now want to bring it on-line. I've watched, checked and rechecked, no-one has done a site like I want to offer. How do I get off the dime and get it going? I have all the resources, desire and passion but also the fear that it would fail. And take me down with it, or be copied out of existence. HELP, what is the best way to do it?

TinaSeelig52 karma

Sounds like a great idea... I would start with some small experiments to see how it will work and to gauge the response. Look to Sal Khan of the Khan Academy for inspiration. He started very slowly and built his site based on feedback he received. The key is to try something... As mentioned in an earlier comment, the key is to look at your first attempt as an experiment. If it doesn't work, don't fret, but learn from the experience and try again. Good luck and have fun!

judicium22 karma

Any tips for maintaining momentum and motivation for a long term project/team?

TinaSeelig47 karma

Break the project into small parts and celebrate each of those milestones. I do that when writing a book, which takes over a year. I celebrate each page, each chapter, and each section of the book. Eventually, you get to have a launch party! :)

walnutwhip19 karma

You sound like you have the most fascinating job, I can't tell you how envious I am! Ideas come out of my head all the time, for books, pictures, projects, photos, businesses, ways to improve things, lots of stuff, so much I feel overwhelmed and just ignore the majority of them then get annoyed when I see someone's done the same thing a year later, what can I do to take advantage of this rather than just feeling deluged all the time? Also, I have an extremely dull office job and have always wondered if spending so much time doing what people call mind-numbing work can literally have that effect, I wondered what you thought? Thanks.

TinaSeelig31 karma

Your comment is so common... So many people have ideas and don't do anything with them. I describe how to move from ideas to actions in Insight Out... The key is moving systematically from imagination, to creativity, innovation, and then entrepreneurship. The steps are easy to follow, starting with the seed of an idea and then watering it. With the right attitudes and actions you bring it to life. I promise!

Baldeagleactivist18 karma

Do you know of any simple exercises that could be done with elementary aged students?

TinaSeelig39 karma

All the things I teach can easily be used with younger kids. They love opportunities to stretch their imagination. It is honestly embarrassing that this is not taught widely in K-12 schools!

A great simple exercise is to ask kids to pick a problem in their own lives and then give them the opportunity to solve it. This gives them confidence that problems can be solved, and a chance to practice their creative problem solving skills.

Jmauld15 karma

Do you have a single piece of advice that you tell everyone?

TinaSeelig48 karma

One piece of advice... The proper attitude leads to EFFECTIVENESS and the proper actions lead to INVENTIVENESS. By marrying the two you become effective at bringing innovative ideas to the world.

yinbk9 karma

How do you think up ideas? Do you have a routine? A muse? Do you work in silence or with music blasting? Do you think in words, text, music ...? What's your favorite medium for getting your ideas out of your head?

TinaSeelig15 karma

The key is paying carefully attention and then envisioning what might be different. That is the first step of the "Invention Cycle." When I am finally ready to write, I do so in absolute silence. This allows me to focus on the topic and look at it from different angles.

Creed259 karma

Is there a point where you just have to stop someone from destroying their life with one bad idea after another?

TinaSeelig21 karma

This is a really personal decision, not one you make for someone else. We each need to decide how persistent we will be when faces with wave after wave of failure and disappointment. Some people eventually accomplish remarkable things after pushing through endless obstacles, and other give up much earlier. This decision is based on your level of motivation, persistence, and your commitment to a specific outcome.

blazob8 karma

What is in your opinion the most important thing when trying to get ideas into products? What makes someone success and someone else fail?

TinaSeelig11 karma

Entrepreneurship requires persistence and inspiring others... The key is that you need to work really hard on all the business logistics AND make sure to get others on board. You need to inspire others to join your team, invest in your venture, spread the word, and buy your product. This is the hallmark of a great entrepreneur.

NaturalisticAsHell8 karma

I have often thought I should jot my ideas down or otherwise record them as soon as I have them.

Do you do that?

TinaSeelig22 karma

The older I get, the more I have to write down. :)

Yes, it is really important to capture your ideas in words or pictures. This allows you to return to them, see patterns, and to connect and combine them in interesting ways.

EricHunting7 karma

How does one address the decline of the written word as a medium for communicating ideas and the related decline in access to means of illustration for the non-artist?

We live in a culture now highly biased in favor of visual communication. People--professionals especially--react to any text longer than a tweet like a fussy child before a plate of asparagus. Crowdfunding/crowdsourcing demands video and elaborate graphic presentation. Any moderately sophisticated idea demands a comic book or whiteboard animation to explain it. Yet access to illustration has declined with the obsolescence of commercial illustration by cheap reprographics and photography for ad copy use. Illustration has been relegated to a handful of niche uses such as comics and children's books. Artists and designers no longer seem to regard illustration as a basic medium of communication, focusing on style over content, narrowing their fields of subject, and no longer collaborate with non-artists outside their small communities. We've seen the impact of this with the slow decline of futurist literature, where one simply cannot photograph what doesn't yet exist. Today's futurists struggle to communicate with the mainstream society and Hollywood, with its antiscience and compulsive dystopianism, dominates the cultural discourse on the future because no one else can afford the art.

The technology of CGI has so far proven no help, even as it has become the new standard for many forms of illustration. Computer modeling is not automation of art. It's highly inefficient because it's not drawing, it's model-making, and incurs about the same labor overhead as actual model fabrication. It offers no substitute for talent and cannot compete in efficiency with simple drawing.

As an amateur futurist aspiring toward a career, I personally have had any number of projects stymied by the illustration problem. The written word is dead but it's my only tool. What can I do?

TinaSeelig8 karma

My my perspective, there is room for all types of communication. I love writing books that tell a complete story, as well as tweets that are teasers. We now live in a world with lots of options for ways to communicate, and lots of ways to share out work... With self publishing and sites like Medium, it is also much easier to get your work out. I wish you the best sharing your ideas!

oopsyspoo3 karma

How do you test your students? What makes one qualified for this sort of job? Thanks in advance btw.

TinaSeelig15 karma

Good question... I don't test my students. In fact, I tell them to never ask about their course grade. :)

I want the students to be internally motivated. I tell them that I expect them to put as much work into the course as I do, and that they should "never miss an opportunity to be fabulous." Guess what? It works! They are waiting for someone to give them this freedom to tap into their own motivation, not respond to an external motivation.

iron_brew3 karma

Hello Tina, do you have a reading list you recommend your students (apart from your book obviously)? If not could you post some suggestions of must reads?

Also, generally what sort of background do most of your students come from?

thanks in advance!

TinaSeelig4 karma

There are lots of inspiring books on creativity... Some of my favorites is The Art of Innovation by Tom Kelley. It talks about the creative process at IDEO... My students come from all over the world, and all different backgrounds.

I am a strong believer that all learning is experiential. Therefore most of my teaching is not from books but from exercises. In my new book, Insight Out, I include a set of exercises at the end of each chapter.

korny123451 karma

Have you heard of Nancy Duarte? If yes, do you use any of her ideas in your class?

TinaSeelig3 karma

Nancy is wonderful. She has so much to say about making compelling presentations. I spend a lot of time teaching my students the art of storytelling. Once you have an interesting idea, you need to inspire others to share your vision. That only happens is you can tell a great story that captures your ideas.

theturtleguy1 karma

Hi Tina,

What's your favorite flavor of ice cream?

TinaSeelig3 karma

I don't eat ice cream. :)

Hia101 karma

Thanks for doing this AMA!

Generally speaking, what do you think is the biggest impediment against innovation (whether at a person's level or at a societal level)?

TinaSeelig1 karma

Innovation is apply creativity to come up with a unique solution to a problem... The impediment is not focusing and reframing. This process allows you to come up with really fresh ideas, as opposed to "creative" ideas that are new to you but not new to the world.