Independent Publisher: THE Voice of the Independent Publishing Industry

Indie Groundbreaking Book: Idea-Links

The New Path to Creativity for All

by Jillian Bergsma

“What if I told you that much of what you’ve heard about creativity has sent you down the wrong path?” So promises new author Jim Link in the opening line of Idea-Links: The New Creativity (Beaver’s Pond Press), his first title and our newest Groundbreaking Indie Book. Jim Link has been in the idea-generation business for more than 25 years, so he’s no stranger to the world of ideas and idea people. He’s worked with numerous corporations such as 3M, General Mills, Marriot, Nestlé, and Target through his own highly-successful idea company which he started in 1994.

Most creativity books overwhelm the reader with a laundry list of tips and techniques. Instead, Idea-Links goes deep on two processes (making idea-links and creative reframing) that help readers uncover, understand, and build creativity, both personally and in the workplace. The book is based on more than five years of workshops and a lifetime of experience working with creative people in a variety of fields.

Link got his start in marketing at General Mills, where he fell in love with creating new product ideas (and getting a paycheck out of it). Twenty years ago, he struck out on his own and started one of the world’s first idea companies, Idea-Link, Inc.. When not consulting with big-name companies, Link ran and attended seminars on creativity. As time passed, he began to see that there was a serious problem with the way we taught creativity.

“As a culture, we focus too much on the unleashing part of creativity. As a result, we’ve fallen upon the illusion that becoming more creative doesn’t require work, just letting loose or finding your inner child,” Link explained. “Many of these unleashing seminars ask you to do wacky, almost insulting exercises, like pretending you’re a chicken or tossing around toys. Yet the creative people I work with are anything but wacky and silly. I felt a strong sense of mission to set the record straight about how creative people truly make themselves more creative, then teach others to follow the same process.”

Instead of believing that creativity was an innate talent found only in a lucky few, Link began to examine the patterns and similarities of the innovative people he knew. Thankfully, his studies paid off, and he discovered that creativity could be practiced and learned. This is good news for those of us who have felt we lacked that creativity gene. Instead of hoping for those elusive “Aha!” moments, Link believes that we can set ourselves up to be more creative. According to the book, making idea-links (see the sidebar for details) and creative reframing are the two basic disciplines to becoming more creative. Link explained the two steps in layman’s terms.

“Making idea-links puts more creative raw material in your memory. If you think about creativity as ‘connecting the dots,’ making idea-links is the process of putting more dots in your brain. The second discipline, creative reframing, teaches you to ask the kinds of questions that help you connect the dots. These two disciplines, once part of your normal way of thinking, work together to build your creativity.”

Link also uncovered some key characteristics and practices that creative people have in common. He lists curiosity, analysis, focus, preparation, recording of insights and unrestricted questioning as some of the necessary elements of a creative person or team.

Independent Publisher: THE Voice of the Independent Publishing Industry.

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