• Creative Confidence
  • Creative Confidence
  • Creative Confidence
  • Creative Confidence
  • Creative Confidence
  • Creative Confidence
  • Creative Confidence

A book by Tom & David Kelley of IDEO that captures inspiring stories and practical strategies for unlocking your creative potential.

As young children, we’re all creative. We draw, sing, build, and dream. Yet somewhere along the way, many people’s creativity gets blocked, and we start to say, “I’m not the creative type.” David Kelley is the founder of IDEO and the Stanford d.school, and Tom Kelley is the bestselling author of The Art of Innovation. Their book is a powerful and compelling guide on how to unleash the creativity that lies within each and every one of us. Drawing on countless stories from their work, they explain the mindsets and approaches that will help you to not only have more breakthrough ideas but also the courage to act on them. Published by Crown Business in October 2013.


Tom and David Kelley had been thinking about writing a book about creative confidence for a few years. In 2010, they brought me on to help start the project in earnest. While Tom had written two books before, this was David’s first, and it was also the first time the two were collaborating closely on a major project together. Over the two years I worked on the project, I was deeply inspired by Tom and David, the passion and creativity of the people whose stories we were telling, and our mission.

Research & Writing/Editing

In the first phase of the project, I led the qualitative research effort. I setup and helped conduct nearly a hundred interviews with Stanford d.school teachers and students, IDEO designers and clients, and leaders in the field of creativity. I digested transcripts, pulled out quotes, and highlighted key stories and ideas. I also led the synthesis of the interviews as a whole. Through that work, I helped to uncover major insights and themes from the research and flag stories and case studies to include in the book.

Through the research work, I became deeply immersed and committed to the project and stayed on at IDEO until the book’s completion. For the next year and a half, I worked closely with the Kelleys on the conception and writing of the book. I helped develop our POV and structure. I gathered quotes, background research, and raw materials from the research phase and other secondary research to serve as source materials. I wrote passages and first drafts as well as edited and reviewed writing by the Kelleys, passing many drafts back and forth. I contributed at every stage, from developmental editing to fine-tuning our manuscript to proofing multiple iterations of our galleys.

Applying Design Process to Book Writing

I also played a general support and project management role, keeping our project going and on track. I adapted design thinking strategies to make the writing process as collaborative as possible. For example, at the start of working on a new chapter, we would do a group brainstorm to generate ideas and stories to include. After the brainstorm, I’d translate individual items to Post-its that we would then organize into categories on large sheets of foamcore. We would use the foamcore as a way to visually outline chapters together before jumping into writing. This process allowed us all to engage with the content at the same time, facilitating discussions of what the chapter was really about and then, later on, what stories to include and discard.


My passion for writing/editing has always been linked intuitively to my passion for design. As both a designer and an editor, what gets me going is surfacing the crux of the matter (be it the “aha moment” or insight of a story or the key need of a product) and then figuring out how to build the story or the product around it. This was the first project, though, where I literally was translating my design process to writing. It felt surprisingly unnatural initially. As much as we preach in our work (and the book) about how universally applicable design thinking is, we still entered into our project with the biases of what book writing looks like—developing ideas in your head, crafting chapters in isolation, plugging forward until you get to a book length that you turn over to your publisher. And it was only realizing our mistake and trying out various ways of working together more collaboratively, iteratively, tangibly, did we come to our final process.



“CREATIVE CONFIDENCE is a myth-busting, muscle-building gem of a book. It shatters the false belief that only some people are creative. Then it provides a smart, practical action plan for boosting your innovative capacities. If you want to be more creative, read the Kelley brothers’ words, follow their advice, and then—as they’d tell you—do something!”
Daniel H. Pink, author of Drive, A Whole New Mind, and To Sell is Human

“David Kelley has unleashed the power of design thinking for thousands of Stanford students and hundreds of influential Silicon Valley entrepreneurs. In CREATIVE CONFIDENCE, he and his brother, Tom, share their secrets about how each of us can find our creative powers. They describe a way of thinking that will change your professional and personal life.”
Charlie Rose, acclaimed interviewer and broadcast journalist

“This book changed me. CREATIVE CONFIDENCE is that rare combination of thought leadership, soulful storytelling, and real-life exercises that inspires you to reclaim your creative passion and courage. I feel braver already.”
Brené Brown, Ph.D., author of the #1 New York Times Bestseller, Daring Greatly

New York Times Best Seller ( link ) , Inc’s Best 2013 Books for Entrepreneurs ( link ) , iBooks Best of 2013 ( link )



Official Creative Confidence website ( link )

David Kelley’s TED talk: “How to Build Your Creative Confidence” ( link )

Harvard Business Review article ( link )