Great Books Distilled: Books by History's Greatest Innovators, Founders, and Investors

The page is a reading list sharing the best books written by history's greatest innovators, founders, and investors. You’ll find more than 100 good books to read, organized by category. This is a reading list for people who don’t have time for unimportant books — which should be everyone. I only list the best books I've read and recommend. So you can be sure that each will be worth your time.

Great Books by Category

These are the best books to read, listed by category. Along with a few collections of rare and hard-to-find speeches, lectures, talks, interviews, letters, and memos that are a great way to go deeper.

All Book Summaries

For the best books that I read, I go through the painstaking effort to put together and publish my personal notes including highlights, excerpts, and takeaways. You get the best 5% of the ideas in these books in a form that takes 20 minutes at most to read.

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Daniel Scrivner

The Laws of Creativity: How to Unlock Your Originality and Awaken Your Creative Genius

Book Summary

This is my book summary of The Laws of Creativity by Joey Cofone. My notes are informal and often contain quotes from the book as well as my own thoughts. This summary also includes key lessons and important passages from the book.


Overview

In his book The Laws of Creativity, Joey Cofone debunks why creativity isn’t magic and shares what it is, how it works, and how you can harness it in your everyday life. Learn how to unlock your originality and awaken your creative genius with Joey Cofone—award-winning designer and Founder & CEO of the much loved “Tools for Thinkers'' brand Baronfig.

Each of the 39 Laws of Creativity are illustrated with inspiring, enlightening, and surprising stories of iconic creators across history—including Albert Einstein, Serena Williams, Martin Luther King Jr., Harry Houdini, Grace Hopper, Bruce Lee, and many more. Joey breaks down how these titans of history wielded creativity to reach incredible heights.

“At this point in my career, I have art directed over 100 products from a rough idea into consumer’s hands. I’ve collaborated with incredible creators like James Clear and Roxane Gay. There came a point where it was very obvious how it all worked and fit together—because I was always interested not just in what I was doing but how I was doing it.” — Joey Cofone

The Book in Three Sentences

In his book The Laws of Creativity, Joey debunks why creativity isn’t magic and shares what it is, how it works, and how you can harness it in your everyday life. Each of the 39 Laws of Creativity are illustrated with inspiring, enlightening, and surprising stories of iconic creators across history—including Albert Einstein, Serena Williams, Martin Luther King Jr., Harry Houdini, Grace Hopper, Bruce Lee, and many more. Joey breaks down how these titans of history wielded creativity to reach incredible heights.


Go Deeper on Creativity

How to Reliably Get Inspired

Joey Cofone explains the two types of inspiration—passive and active—and how anyone can take advantage of them to find inspiration. He also describes how active inspiration works and how it consists of three steps: collecting, assimilating, and combining. If you’re struggling to get and stay inspired, this is a fantastic read.

Creativity vs Business

Creativity and entrepreneurship have a lot of synergies, but they can just as easily work against each other. Joey Cofone walks through how he balances creativity with entrepreneurship at Baronfig. He shares why a great creation does not equal a great seller and why, similarly, a great selling product isn’t necessarily a mind-blowing one.

The Highs & Lows of Creating Baronfig

Joey Cofone shares the highs and lows of building Baronfig over the last decade, including why the biggest challenge is handling the pulls in a dozen directions in any given moment, and how there’s always something that can be created, improved, or fixed. Building a company often feels like a never ending game of Whack-a-Mole.

The Truth About Creative Magic

While the results of creativity are often magical, the process to get there is not. The practice of creativity is as reliable as accounting and as easy as following these four steps: get inspired, research, iterate, and choose to end. Joey Cofone shares why we have to lean into systemization and systemize the hell out of our creative process.

How to Recognize Good Ideas

Joey Cofone shares his thoughts on how to know when an idea is good and how to go from an idea to the best final solution or product. For him, it involves what he calls the Grok Threshold, which is when your audience understands an idea profoundly and intuitively—envisioning how it fits into their lives and understanding it well enough to be able to share it with others.

Strategies for Personal Accountability

All of us struggle with personal accountability and honoring our commitments. Joey Cofone shares the four strategies he uses to keep himself accountable and use his time effectively. They include having contingencies, giving himself prizes when he hits certain goals, daily habit tracking, and having accountability buddies. He goes on to explain why all of these use positive reinforcement rather than negative reinforcement.


Who is Joey Cofone?

Joey Cofone is the Founder & CEO of Baronfig, an award-winning designer and entrepreneur, and author of #1 bestselling The Laws of Creativity.

Joey has designed and art directed over 100 products from zero to launch. His work has been featured in Fast Company, Bloomberg, New York Magazine, Newsweek, Bon Appétit, Quartz, Mashable, Print, and more. Joey was named a New Visual Artist and, separately, Wunderkind designer, by Print magazine. He is also a 1st place winner of the American Institute of Graphic Arts design competition, Command X.

Joey strives to make work that appeals to curious minds—work that’s beautiful, smart, and communicative. He believes that design is the least of a designer’s worries, that story is at the heart of all tasks, and jumping off cliffs is the only way to grow.


Interview with the Author

On Outliers with Daniel Scrivner, I sat with Joey Cofone the author of The Laws of Creativity to explore the story and process behind the book. We covered everything from how Joey distilled down the laws, what creativity is and why it isn't magic, as well as specific laws in the book including: The Law of Precision, The Law of the Muse, and The Law of Good Enough. For more, read through the full show notes and transcript.

Recommended Reading

If you enjoyed The Laws of Creativity, you might also like:

Related Collections

You can find other books like The Laws of Creativity in these collections:


About the author

Daniel Scrivner is an award-winner designer turned founder and investor. He's led design work at Apple and Square. He is an early investor in Notion, Public.com, and Good Eggs. He's also the founder of Ligature: The Design VC and Outlier Academy. Daniel has interviewed the world’s leading founders and investors including Scott Belsky, Luke Gromen, Kevin Kelly, Gokul Rajaram, and Brian Scudamore.

Last updated
Dec 10, 2023

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