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The Five Faces of Genius: Creative Thinking Styles to Succeed at Work


What do Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Leonardo da Vinci, and Ray Kroc, the man who created the McDonald's franchise enterprise, have in common? They have all mastered the skills of creative genius-essential tools in today's business climate.

Having researched the lives and techniques of past and present geniuses for this inspiring and provocative new handbook, Annette Moser-Wellman helps workers at all levels build and refine their working styles. These qualities of creativity-drawn ...

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The Five Faces of Genius: Creative Thinking Styles to Succeed at Work

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What do Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Leonardo da Vinci, and Ray Kroc, the man who created the McDonald's franchise enterprise, have in common? They have all mastered the skills of creative genius-essential tools in today's business climate.

Having researched the lives and techniques of past and present geniuses for this inspiring and provocative new handbook, Annette Moser-Wellman helps workers at all levels build and refine their working styles. These qualities of creativity-drawn from the the realms of art, science, as well as business-make up the five distinct "faces":

Seer-the power to image
Observer-the power to notice details
Alchemist-the power to make connections
Fool-the power to celebrate weakness
Sage-the power to simplify

Moser-Wellman shows how we can utilize these creative thinking strategies and flourish in the workplace.

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What People Are Saying

From the Publisher
"It teaches people about the nature of creativity and how to cultivate it." —Fast Company

"Moser-Wellman has given us five different perspectives from which to creatively tackle business challenges." —Carla J. Paonessa, Managing Partner, Accenture

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780142000359
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 2/26/2002
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 780,046
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.42 (h) x 0.58 (d)

Meet the Author

Annette Moser-Wellman is the president of Firemark, Inc., a consulting and marketing firm whose clients include Coca-Cola, Kraft Foods, and Hewlett Packard. She is a former director and vice president of Leo Burnett Advertising and is a contributing writer for Brandweek magazine. She lives on Bainbridge Island, Washington.

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Read an Excerpt

The Five Faces of Genius

Creative Thinking Styles to Succeed at Work
By Annette Moser-Wellman

Penguin Books

Copyright © 2002 Annette Moser-Wellman
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0142000353

Chapter One

"It is my business to create."


How did Albert Einstein get the idea for the theory of relativity? What was Georgia O'Keeffe's inspiration for her paintings? How did Andy Grove create the computer giant Intel? Have you ever wondered how history's best got their ideas?

    Most of us believe geniuses are in a league of their own. What we don't realize is that these highly creative people use skills we all can learn. People aren't genius; ideas are--and each of us is capable of our own breakthrough ideas.

     Here are the thinking skills of some of the most highly inventive people in history--Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Frank Lloyd Wright, Leonardo da Vinci, and more. When you understand their path to ideas--how they developed breakthroughs--you'll be able to master your imagination in business. You will discover your creative style--how your imagination operates and how to become an idea leader. You'll learn to be a more vital member of your team and to ensure that your ideas see the light ofday within your organization. You will discover the parts of you that are genius.

    Your company needs your genius. We are in a business renaissance, and as in a renaissance, artists, scientists, poets, and thinkers are at the forefront of change. They master possibility, paint on empty canvases, and define the rules of the next age. To lead the changes in business today, you need to think like an artist and master your imagination. Your currency is your ideas.

    Here's how I learned the importance of ideas. In the mid-1990s I was a successful manager at a world-renowned advertising agency. Yet, I was looking toward the future and wanted to know how I could accelerate my performance and advance within the company. A trusted colleague was on his way to a new job and I asked him for some honest feedback. What I heard shocked me.

    "Jack, tell me. What can I do to improve my work with the team?"

    "Well, Annette. You're smart. You're a great manager. You get things done. But you are too focused on 'strategy.' You spend too much time thinking about the problem. The team wants your creative solutions. What are your ideas? You need to increase your facility with ideas."

    Increase my facility with ideas? I couldn't believe it! I thought my imagination was pretty good--I'd been using it for years. But his words haunted me: not "strategy," but "ideas." I had to admit, Jack was right. I often tried to understand, even argue, about what needed to be done instead of how to create ideas to get there. How could I increase the quality and quantity of my ideas at work? To be more successful at work, I would have to learn to think more creatively.

    I decided to learn about creativity from the best. If I could understand the mental architecture--the thinking skills--of the most highly creative people in history, perhaps I could become more inventive at work. I could sit at the feet of genius and learn to improve my business imagination. I began poring over the innovations of the most well-respected artists, scientists, inventors, and business geniuses of history. With each one I asked, "How did this mind make the contribution? What were the mental principles at work that led to the breakthrough?"

    What I found inspired and changed me. I discovered that the creative mind is the same no matter where you find it--in art, in dance, in science--even in business. It took the same skills for Robert Frost to write a poem or for Bob Dylan to write a ballad as it did for Howard Schultz to create the idea for the Starbucks empire or for Ray Kroc to reinvent American dining when he franchised McDonald's. The same tools of invention used by artists and scientists to create their breakthroughs are used by business people to create breakthroughs in industry. I had found where art meets business.

    I laid the examples of breakthroughs over my desk. As I studied, five common principles of creativity emerged. I even gave them names so I could remember them: the Seer, the Observer, the Alchemist, the Fool, and the Sage. I called the framework the Five Faces of Genius: the mental architecture--the thinking skills--behind some of the greatest contributions in history.

    I put the power of the Five Faces of Genius to work at the agency, and the framework became my toolbox for creative thinking. Every time I began working on a project or had to solve a problem, I'd run through the principles in my mind. Immediately I felt the results. I started mastering ideas---sales ideas, marketing ideas, ideas for my clients' businesses, ideas for my firm's business. I stopped worrying about smart answers and started looking for creative answers. I began hearing the compliment, "You never come to me without an idea." I relied not just on my head but also on my intuition and ingenuity to solve problems. I stopped living like a business manager and began living like an artist. I began to find a part of the creative genius within me.

    As I shared the framework with friends, co-workers, and colleagues, they immediately saw how the Five Faces of Genius would help them. I heard, "I need to find a way to be more creative in what I do at work. Can you teach me?" I heard, "My customer is not just paying for my service, they expect ideas, too." Some told me "idea development" was now a part of their performance evaluation. "I need to figure out how to be more imaginative in my job." My struggle wasn't just my own. It was the same struggle for a generation of other managers. The information economy had changed the landscape of business, and more of us realized the importance of being an idea champion at work.

    Today, I am the founder and president of a company called FireMark, which teaches business people to think more creatively using the Five Faces of Genius. Our clients include such renowned and diverse companies as Coca-Cola, Andersen Consulting, Kraft Foods, and Starbucks. My company helps others use the skills to discover new ideas--the uncharted territory of the business--and teaches them how to bring their imagination to work.

    In these pages you'll find skills to master breakthrough in the idea economy--how to navigate your imagination and find a deeper energy for your work. A seminar participant says it best, "When I began to master all the Five Faces of Genius skills, I found I had creative powers I never knew I had. Now when I get my group together at work, say to come up with ways to grow our business, I ask the questions the Faces would ask and it helps us dream big. I am enjoying being the 'idea ambassador.' My job is much more fun and meaningful to me."

    Now, some of you are saying, "But my management doesn't want imaginative solutions. I'm just expected to follow directions." Or, "My job description is about getting things done." Or, "My team has good ideas; getting them through the organization is the hardest part." And this may be true. There is no denying that the organization corrals innovation, but this is what I want you to know: The most valuable resource you bring to your work and to your firm is your creativity. More than what you get done, more than the role you play, more than your title, more than your "output"--it's your ideas that matter. In a business renaissance, when a leading firm can crumble in a minute (Boston Chicken) and another be born in an instant (, even your firm needs business artists.

    To become a business artist you don't have to put toys in your office or shoot your colleagues with Neff guns. You don't have to have the word "creative" in your title. You simply have to commit to finding your genius within. You have a creative spirit worth nurturing. Dedicate yourself to discovering it.

    Get ready for some of the most valuable skills you may ever learn. The Five Faces of Genius are the raw rubrics of creativity, and once you know them you can apply them to your business challenges. Principles that can help you master your life at work and even your life. We live in an age of change. Don't be a person who responds to change. Be the person who creates it.

     The poet William Blake claimed it was his business to create. It is your business to create as well. It is finally what you create, what you contribute, what you call into being at work, that will be your personal legacy. And legacies are not just for artists, philosophers, or Nobel Prize winners alone. A creative legacy is your birthright, too.

    You and I spend more time working than any other single activity in our lives. Work is exactly the place that demands the most from us but often where we expect the least. But when you pioneer creativity in your work, you find your creative spirit, and you can transform your soul and change the lives of those around you. The world is waiting to discover your genius. Begin here.


Excerpted from The Five Faces of Genius by Annette Moser-Wellman Copyright © 2002 by Annette Moser-Wellman. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

I. Finding the Business Genius Within 1
II. The Five Faces of Genius 7
1. The Seer 21
2. The Observer 46
3. The Alchemist 70
4. The Fool 90
5. The Sage 115
III. Putting the Five Faces of Genius to Work 139
IV. Discovering Your Genius Within 183
Notes 195
Index 201
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