Hi, I’m Yonatan Levy
Over the last decade, as a product leader, user-experience expert, entrepreneur, and executive, I came to realize that everyone is creative.
While some people access their creative thinking more easily than others, there’s no mystery to tapping into “the creative zone,” no magical formula needed. It’s all about practice in fostering the right conditions and mindset.
But what are these conditions and mindsets, and how can we create them? Even though I don’t believe in prescriptive formulas for creativity and success, there is one common path that is true to almost any successful product or entrepreneur—it’s about taking action and dealing with uncertainty.
In all product leadership positions that I’ve held, no matter my specific role or title, research into creative thinking and problem-solving has always been fundamental to my work, and dealing with uncertainty has always been the key.
The creative thinking process is a topic that's dear to my heart, and I've been exploring it for years. Of course, 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. This led me to launch my first start-up company 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 delivered a slew of successful digital products for companies ranging from e-commerce and financial services to social networks and cyber security.
Integrating art into business and tech
I don't want to be an 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) findings: I began gathering my creative thinking approaches, problem-solving skills, and accumulated industry experience into models and frameworks, 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 principles in The Other Ideas to enrich their personal lives as well.