The one-sentence summary

Nothing exists in limbo and context is everything, so you need to out-think the problem by changing a piece of it.


· This is a series of anecdotes providing sage wisdom on all matters creative.

· Billed as a masterclass in out-thinking the competition, the book’s main message is to look at situations you can’t solve and change them into ones that you can solve.

· The main themes are:

  1. Creative is an adjective not a noun – you have to think about it all the time and make ideas happen.
  2. Life is a zero-sum game – you can’t have more than 100% of anything.
  3. 90% of advertising doesn’t work – it’s not even noticed, let alone remembered.
  4. You can run from it or you can learn from it – learning isn’t the same as being taught.
  5. Less really is more – when his son combines his two favourite foods (Twiglets and strawberry ice cream), it doesn’t tastes twice as good.
  6. Taste is the enemy of creativity – if it’s comfortable, it won’t be distinctive enough.
  7. Form follows function – get the brief right first, and then the rest flows properly.
  8. The human mind is our medium – we see things not as they are, but as we are.
  9. The journey is the destination – whatever it is, you might as well get on with it now.


· The principles here are most powerfully conveyed in short stories – drawing on anything from his family, the Second World War, Socrates, and Picasso, to a range of colleagues and students.

· Unsurprisingly, the philosophy is the same as his previous book, but many of the themes bear repetition:

· All you’ve got to beat is yourself – we stop us, not anyone else.

· You don’t have to win – you just have to make the other lot lose.

· Being interesting is much more interesting than being right.

· If you’re creative, then you have to create. If you don’t do it, it won’t happen.

· No one knows what’s in your head – you choose your own reality.

· Nothing is ‘wrong’ – just inappropriate.

· People don’t think like we think they should think – punters haven’t read the brief.

· Reasonable people don’t do much – so be unreasonable.


· The story on the back cover is at least 20 years old. It’s the one about the guy who puts his trainers on – not to outrun the tiger, but his mate.