Hi, I’m Yonatan Levy
Over the last decade, as a product leader, user-experience expert, and entrepreneur, I came to realize that everyone is creative, but that some people can access their creative thinking more easily than others. My own experience has taught me that there’s no mystery to tapping into “the creative zone,” no magical formula needed: it’s simply a matter of fostering the right circumstances for creativity to flourish.
In all product leadership positions that I’ve held, no matter my specific role or title, research into invention and problem solving is always fundamental to my work. The thinking process is something that we all can experience for ourselves, but we can’t always follow why sometimes we get good results while we miserably fail other attempts — which is why I strive to describe my findings in clear, simple language that’s accessible to everyone.
My introduction to creative thinking and problem solving first began while I was a fine arts student, well before I entered the high-tech world. In art school, I continually faced creative challenges that were immensely time consuming and demanding. Short assignment deadlines often lit a fire under me, and having my work constantly (and relentlessly) critiqued by renowned contemporary artists only fueled those flames. For four long years, each of my artistic assignments was a “problem,” and I had to call on my own creativity to “solve” it.
By the time I graduated, I had figured out that traditional art was limiting my ability to reach large audiences quickly and independently. I wanted to explore a whole new canvas — the Internet — and was increasingly interested in the “new art” of delivering meaningful digital products and services into the hands of huge audiences. That’s what led me to launch my first tech start-up in 2007, which focused on detecting and analyzing online trends.
I loved building products and fitting them to markets, but as the years progressed, I became engrossed by one overarching paradox: How could product developers and entrepreneurs, who practically worshiped at the altar of innovation, also be so clearly afraid of change?
Copycatting was rampant in the industry; I had seen smart and talented entrepreneurs and product managers make the same “safe” choices — and ultimately the same safe products — over and over again. Had we grown so risk-averse that the safety of certainty and predictability now outweighed the excitement and potential of fresh, bold ideas?
These questions became the foundation of my product management approach. Over time, they turned out to be the key to unlocking my career potential, as I managed to deliver a slew of successful digital products for companies both big and small.
Incorporating art into business and tech
I’m no innovation guru, and I don’t have a success formula to offer. But I do hope that people can benefit from my multidisciplinary (and sometimes surprising) journey: I began gathering my artistic and creative approaches, problem-solving skills, and accumulated industry experience into one book, with the goal of helping others harness their own personal ingenuity.
Published in 2017, The Other Ideas: Art, Digital Products, and the Creative Mind, reflects over two years of writing and dedication. I hope that my work will help others learn how to translate abstract thinking into measurable deliverables and breakthrough digital products. We have a huge opportunity in our hands: to create meaningful impact in the digital disruption age we live in. Even more than that, I hope my readers will use the insights in The Other Ideas to enrich their personal lives as well.