and creative risk
The gee whiz diner is not,
by all appearances, a hotbed of
creativity. It is a standard New York
City greasy spoon a few blocks
from the Fast Company offices.
Yet it was there, over corned-beef
hash and eggs, that we cooked up
the idea for this issue’s cover
gatefold of Conan O’Brien.
Creativity often arises in
unexpected places. NBC, certainly,
on our annual list of the 100 Most
Creative People in Business. As
senior writer Chuck Salter shows
on page 84, Conan’s creative
process is both high pressure and
messy. And that’s why it works.
has shown at Alcatel-Lucent, and
at indie shops, as Laura Ching
(No. 60) proves at Tiny Prints.
2. Creativity can solve problems
that seem insurmountable. The
hand-wringing over America’s
embattled education system didn’t
deter Sal Khan (No. 7) from creating an online video “academy”
that has had 50 million views on
You Tube alone. Giovanni Colella
(No. 57) found a way around a
barrier to affordable health care
by building a portal that allows
comparison-shopping for doctors.
Google’s Sebastian Thrun (No. 5)
is using robotics to envision a
future of safer driving with cars
that actually drive themselves.
3. There is a limitless supply
of creativity. We set one rule when
generating this list each year:
No repeats from past years, no
repeats of people previously
profiled in Fast Company. Yet
despite that, we discovered hundreds of inspiring candidates—
from Reshma Shetty (No. 20), who
is using synthetic biology to create
fuel out of carbon dioxide, to Nnaemeka Ikegwuonu (No. 61), who is
educating impoverished Nigerian
farmers via radio broadcasts.
4. Creativity implies reinvention.
Conan isn’t the only honoree
who has redefined himself. So
have Arianna Huffington (No. 10);
Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh (No. 29);
and Brazilian fashion designer
Oskar Metsavaht (No. 73), who
found inspiration for a new
clothing line in the ashes of his
burned-out Rio headquarters.
We hope you find inspiration
in the pages that follow and in
our digital editions, which offer
more insight into these 100 individuals’ creative processes.
Conan O’Brien and
Fast Company’s cover-shoot team, including
Florian Bachleda (with
tablets) and photo
director Leslie dela
Vega (with monkey)
18 fastcompany.com June 2011