A still from John Kelly's "Procrastination" video below.

10 Awesome Videos On Idea Execution & The Creative Process

At 99U, we try to demystify the creative process. To show you the real inner-workings of how ideas are made to happen by sharing the thought processes and creative practices of great achievers. Here, with the help of our readers, we’ve rounded up some of the best videos on idea execution from artists, writers, designers, storytellers, researchers, and chocolatiers.
1. William Kentridge: Anything Is Possible (53:12)
This rich and wonderful profile of acclaimed South African artist William Kentridge comes from PBS’s Art:21 series. Among other things, Kentridge talks embracing the seriousness of play and learning how to work out of your weaknesses.
It’s always been in between the things I thought I was doing that the real work has happened.
2. Ira Glass: Bridging The Gap Between Appreciation & Ability (5:20)
This American Life’s Ira Glass describes the painful moment when your ability to execute on your ideas does not yet meet your own aesthetic standards – and how to push through it.
The most important thing you can do is do a lot of work.
3. Michael Wolff: Don’t Overvalue Your Experience (62:04)
Sometimes we over-value our own experience. Here, Michael Wolff – one of the foremost identity designers in the world – talks about counter-balancing the rigidity that past experience can inspire by remaining open. Open to appreciation, open to curiosity, and open to the possibilities of imagination. Click to play the video.
I know that being right is a pretty deadly thing. And I know that thinking that you know what to do is not a very useful thing.
4. J.K. Rowling: Life Is Not A Checklist of Achievement (20:59)
In this classic Harvard commencement speech, J.K. Rowling extols the value of failure and imagination as she describes her journey from impoverished single mother to mega-bestselling author of the Harry Potter series.
It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all.
5. IDEO: Enlightened Trial-And-Error Always Wins (24:20)
In this vintage video (circa 1999), ABC news challenges the design geniuses at IDEO to redesign the supermarket shopping cart in 5 days. The resulting three-part video demonstrates the power of blue-sky brainstorming balanced with real-world field research and rapid prototyping.
Enlightened trial and error succeeds over the planning of the lone genius.
6. John Kelly: The Many Shades of Procrastination (4:17)
Illustrator John Kelly calls us out on all of the things that we do to avoid doing the things we really should be doing – a bracing (and hilarious) reminder of how creative we can get with our procrastination techniques.
Procrastination is finding the most difficult way of doing something, is jumping from one idea to another to another, is checking your emails.
7. Elizabeth Gilbert: Where Does Creative Genius Live? (19:32)
In one of the most popular TED talks ever, Eat Pray Love author Elizabeth Gilbert talks about recalibrating our notions of “creative genius” to help us thrive, proposing that genius is external – a divine inspiration called forth, or prepared for, with lots of hard work – rather than a manifestation of individual greatness.
I think that allowing somebody to believe that he or she is the source of all divine, creative, unknowable, eternal mystery is just a smidge too much responsibility.

8. Daniel Pink: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us (10:48)
It turns out that traditional rewards systems – money, praise, vacation time – are much less effective at motivating creative thinkers than we think they are. In this illustrated talk, author Daniel Pink reveals the surprising secret to eliciting great creative work.
Three factors lead to better performance and personal satisfaction: autonomy, mastery, and purpose.
9. Steve Jobs: Live Each Day As If It Were Your Last (14:34)
Apple legend Steve Jobs talks about dropping out of college, getting fired from Apple, and being diagnosed with cancer – three moments of great adversity that governed the course of his life, and ultimately made it come out for the better.
You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever.
10. Mast Brothers Chocolate: Business As Personal Craft (4:16)
The Brooklyn-based Mast Brothers run one of the only bean-to-bar chocolate factories in the country. Here, Cool Hunting goes behind the scenes to investigate their work-intensive process and DIY approach.
There’s the easy way and then there’s the Mast Brothers’ way.

What Are Your Favorite Videos?
Of course, this is just a partial list. Please share your favorite creative process videos in the comments.
More insights on: Failure, Iteration, Risk-Taking

Jocelyn K. Glei

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A writer and the founding editor of 99U, Jocelyn K. Glei is obsessed with understanding how work gives our lives meaning. She has authored three books about work, creativity, and business, including the Amazon bestsellers Manage Your Day-to-Day and Make Your Mark. Follow her @jkglei.
load comments (34)
  • Dejana R.

    simply great. thanks!

  • ali

    great list, bookmarking and watching!

  • marion chapsal

    It feels like you’re in my mind! Except for the last one, chocolate beans, which I didn’t know, they’re all my top favorites.
    It feels at home whenever I come to this blog…keep doing the Great Work…inspires me to work on my Heroine’s Journey series and 3D figurines project…

  • Mariela

    Excellent. Truly inspiring. Great job.

  • GraphicDesignBoss

    Really, really comprehensive post. Love the quote from J.K. Rowling!

    Although different her comment reminded me of what my boss wisely once said to me – “your worst client can be your best teacher” http://bit.ly/g3PS3Q

  • KULT Studio

    Love the RSA Animate vid…It’s all about Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose… concepts that ultimately led to the birth of our startup. Be your own boss, get good at it and have a good reason for doing it. Simple. Brilliant.


  • Sister Nikeisha

    AWESOME post :D Looking forward to sharing them to help inspire my team.

  • Erick M.

    I love it!
    Ralph Bakshi dropped some knowledge once to me
    this video is pretty good at the insight he provided.

    Ralph Bakshi: Surviving In Tough Times

    also another favorite!

    Derek Sivers speech to Berklee College of Music

  • mindfulmimi

    Ken Robinson on how schools kill creativity:

    Tim Brown (Ideo) on Creativity and Play

    Ji Lee: The Transformative Power of Personal Projects

    How to add some fun to the things you need people to do

    John Cleese on Humor and what is creativity

    Don Norman on how happiness triggers creativity

    Stuart Brown: Why play is vital — no matter your age

    Meet Jen Stark, a young artist who has found a way (by ‘accident’ or ‘chance’) to turn cheap paper into art.

    For more creative inspiration, visit us on:

  • Jonathan Assink

    Oh man, anything from Merlin Mann. Perhaps most applicable to creative process though is his 2009 Macworld talk “Toward Patterns of Creativity”.


  • writers job

    interesting post

  • Alli_136

    These videos are just awesome

  • CreatingACraftyLife

    What a Fabulous collection of Inspiring videos! Thank you so much for sharing!

  • Mable Tan

    Thank you for compiling this list of inspiring videos. I loved what J.K Rowling and Elizabeth Gilbert had to say but overall, can’t think of a better way of spending my Friday morning.

  • Diego

    Great videos!

    I strongly recommend the documentary Beautiful Losers, that can be watched here: http://www.babelgum.com/500535….

    Great insights!

  • Ycosola3

    Wow, loved the videos from j.k. Rowling and Elizabeth Gilbert. Made me open my
    eyes to some new ways of thinking, not only about the creative process, but the
    process of life.

  • Gary R Boodhoo

    inspiring also practical

  • Skaaren Design

    I’m always preaching about the creative process. PLease read my post and give me some feedback! http://tumblr.com/xzu3kdjir3

  • Hotell vid Arlanda

    Although all the videos are interesting, I like the video of JK Rowling and Steve Jobs. The videos remind me that I should live my life to the full and instead of being failure, I should do something about it to be able to give my best shot.

  • thesistown

    is the best tool not only for Kindle,I used it for sony reader.

  • Nathan


    Another response to Procrastination.

  • MerriandGraham Witt

    The Education Paradigm


  • Guest

    Pink’s video is always interesting.

  • Shannon DeFazio

    I completely agree!

  • mike

    thank you behance team, i love you!

  • Paulo

    Great list there, just came across a young but good Video Storytelling, some talents out there: http://www.facebook.com/photo….

  • Tama L

    A great list! Some of these videos I’m
    familiar with and some I’ve just discovered- I’ll definitely be sharing these
    with my creativity workshop class. Thank you.

    My favorites are:

    Julie Burstein’s 4 Lessons in Creativity; and

    David Kelly’s How to Build Your Creative Confidence.

  • http://www.mobilenotesdaily.com/ John Kaye

    This is definitely going on my favorite list — too much to take in for one sitting. Thanks for the compilation.

  • Jamie MacKinnon Walsh

    All wonderful! Worst part: #3 was pay to watch so took a pass on that. Pity.

  • Sam Fowler

    Daniel Pink theory on “What Motivates Us” was an eye opening experience.
    By working in the industrial Manufacturing setting for over 9 years, I
    can relate to his message. Working as a lower-level management
    personnel, profit has been top priority. In the video Daniel express how
    important the implementation of autonomy is. Based on his research,
    “above rudimentary cognitive skill, a larger reward leads to poorer
    performance”. This message is very simple…money is a motivator, if you
    pay people enough money is no an issue. Empowerment is the key. People
    enjoy being self-motivated, they enjoy getting better at things. Like
    Alex in the “Deep Dive” video, a biology major, who turned down medical
    school three times because of the Empowerment that he is allowed to have
    at IDEO. At IDEO, everyone is much very equal, status is not based on
    seniority, level of education or knowledge, but who comes up with the
    best idea. There are no top level management making final decision. The
    crew have freedom to make final decision on their own, the boss even
    defers to see the final product until complete. IDEO have also dominates
    the Staffing Process and Performance appraisal and compensation, by
    matching appropriate people to appropriate job and by praising them for a
    job well done. Take for instance Peter Skillman, project leader,
    project leader only because he is good with groups, not because of
    seniority. At IDEO top-management personnel constantly praises the crew
    for a job well done. The success of IDEO, is directly related to the
    crews autonomy ability, mastery and purpose. The decision by IDEO to run
    this type of organization was unique and have yield them many
    successful inventions.

  • Sam Fowler

    I can also relate Daniel Pink message, the staffing process and
    performance to the Mast Brother Chocolates as well. Besides the Daniel
    Pink video, this was probably my favorite. The first quality about the
    brothers were the quality and craftmenship they took into producing
    their chocolate bars. They made is very clear that their motivator was
    autonomy, their desire to be self directed. Mastery, their ambition at
    getting better at producing the top most quality product, and their
    purpose, to provide not only just food; but a craft. The only internal
    disadvantage I noticed was, that this seem like at tight family
    business. The brothers seemed to operate efficiently, but their maybe
    concern for lack of new perspective on issues. There is obviously
    political infighting, but not for promotion; for decision making. Like
    in the video the brothers admits to disagreeing on things sometimes,
    stating that, “their is nobody your going to fight harder with then your
    family, and their is nobody your going to fight harder for than your
    family”. These guys are very intelligent and strong minded, the
    satisfaction of their customers are a directly result of their
    performance, therefore yielding many incentives.

  • Keren

    Great Article. but This video I attached is the best one I’ve seen, in my opinion..
    completely changed the way I work and create. Really Great stuff!
    This is part 1 and you can see in the description box the link to part 2. enjoy :)

  • Greta

    Not as grand as some of the others, but I’m an illustrator and I really like this channel by the Affectors, a group of creators working across a big range of traditional and digital media – illustration, animation, 3D modelling, photography and interactive installations. Every piece they make for exhibitions gets its own process video, so they’ve built up quite a big archive over a few years. I love watching how other artists think and work and it’s unusual to find a repository of so many artists working in a variety of mediums in one place. Their channel is here, I hope you like it (oh hey disqus put one of the videos in the preview automatically, I didn’t know it did that): https://www.youtube.com/user/DigitalAffectors

  • juliehillbarton

    Here’s a video blog entry about my creative process. I find that the key to keeping the creative process going is to not give up when I’ve decided that it’s time to give up. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D27bvcko4tY&list=UUqNUmuyotlwJxUBEtxfRPNQ

  • Sharon Newman

    People talk to much!!! there’s no room for creativity.

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