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Things a Little Bird Told Me

Confessions of a Creative Mind

By Biz Stone
15-minute read
Things a Little Bird Told Me: Confessions of a Creative Mind by Biz Stone

Things a Little Bird Told Me is the story of how Biz Stone came to co-found Twitter, and explores the invaluable insights that led him there. Encouraging others to be daringly self-confident and focused, and simultaneously aware of how they can help others, Stone proposes a new capitalism for the web age.

  • Anyone interested in peeking behind the scenes of a major tech company
  • Anyone looking for ways to maximize their creativity
  • Anyone interested in starting their own company and making it a success

Biz Stone helped create Xanga, Blogger and Odeo before co-founding Twitter. After leaving Twitter, Stone founded Jelly, a picture-based question and answer app, and became an angel investor for a number of companies, including Square and Beyond Meat. His previous books are Who Let the Blogs Out? and Blogging: Genius Strategies for Instant Web Content.

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Things a Little Bird Told Me

Confessions of a Creative Mind

By Biz Stone
  • Read in 15 minutes
  • Contains 9 key ideas
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Things a Little Bird Told Me: Confessions of a Creative Mind by Biz Stone
Synopsis

Things a Little Bird Told Me is the story of how Biz Stone came to co-found Twitter, and explores the invaluable insights that led him there. Encouraging others to be daringly self-confident and focused, and simultaneously aware of how they can help others, Stone proposes a new capitalism for the web age.

Key idea 1 of 9

Limitations inspire creativity by forcing you to look for innovative solutions.

Think back to your school years when being faced with a blank sheet of paper and a pencil presented so many possibilities that you simply had no idea where to begin.

It’s only when the teacher would offer a direction, like “draw a rainbow” or “write a short story,” that the ideas would start to flow. Though it may seem counterintuitive, such limitations can often be a springboard for creativity.

Why?

Because whenever there are limitations on a task we try to perform, we have to abandon our usual approach. To come up with a solution to a problem, we are forced to get creative.

Everyone has to deal with such constraints – even people who are the most accomplished in their field. Take filmmaker Steven Spielberg, for example, who’d originally envisioned using an animatronic shark for the hit movie Jaws. The constraint was a financial one: the shark was too expensive: a limitation that forced him to be creative.

His solution? To avoid directly showing the shark by shooting from the shark’s point of view.

The result? Jaws ended up being far scarier than it would’ve been had Spielberg been able to use an animatronic shark, and the film became a megahit. Furthermore, the effect was so terrifying that Spielberg’s POV technique subsequently became very popular in horror films.

This principle – that constraints inspire creativity – can also be applied to products, like Twitter, and their users.

Twitter’s users are limited to 140 characters per tweet, which encourages them to find ways to express their ideas concisely.

It’s even considered a valuable skill to be able to craft a Tweet that’s exactly 140 characters long – known in the Twitter community as a “twoosh” – a challenge that sparks users’ creativity.

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