Illustration: Oscar Ramos Orozco

Top 20 Insights, Talks, and Quotables On Making Ideas Happen

Use a journal to keep track of your progress, no matter how small. Shut out your critics and pursue your own path. Be mindful of insecurity work to focus on what matters most. The actionable advice above is among the many highlights in our list of 99U’s most popular insights of the year.

To help take a look back at 2012, we rounded up our most popular features, essays, 99U Conference talks, and tweets. We hope it gives you a chance to discover (and rediscover) content from throughout the year while providing the spark needed to start 2013 off right.

Pop psychology tells us we can’t go wrong with positive thinking. But new studies show that taking account of our obstacles is essential to success.
The gurus claimed these positive images would galvanize your determination. They said you could use the power of positive thinking to will success to happen. But then some important research came along that muddied the rosy picture.
2. Test Your Creativity: 5 Classic Creative Challenges
How creative are you? Find out by taking a few quick tests that psychologists have been using to study creativity for decades.
While creativity “testing” is far from an exact science, trying your mettle at these challenges could yield insight into when, where, and how you’re most creative. Or maybe it’ll just be fun.

3. The 5 Types of Work That Fill Your Day
What type of work are you doing right now? Reactionary work? Problem-solving work? Insecurity work? A look at how to manage your work energy smartly.

All work is not created equal. Try working with an awareness of the type of work you’re doing, and how it’s helping (or limiting) your progress.

4. Why Boredom Is Good for Your Creativity
Why does boredom always emerge just as you’re about to get in gear on a creative project?

On the other side of boredom is the most exciting experience you can have as a creator – the state of being fired up and discovering new possibilities beyond anything you could have imagined before you sat down to work.

5. How Rejection Breeds Creativity
With a few small changes in your mindset, you can turn rejection into a dramatic boost for your motivation and focus.

While it is never a comfortable experience, the feelings of rejection can actually help us access our more creative selves. Free from the expectations of group norms, we can push the limits of novelty.

6. How Barack Obama Gets Things Done
President Barack Obama has the hardest job in the world. So how does he do it? Tips on getting a head start, making decisions, and ignoring your critics.

White House operations grow increasingly complex with every administration. Harry Truman had 12 “assistants to the president.” Now there are more than 100 people who have a similar title. As a result, President Obama tries to limit his information intake, including when he gets dressed in the morning.

“I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing,” he told Michael Lewis. “Because I have too many other decisions to make.”

7. The 6 Steps To Creating A Knockout Online Portfolio
Ready to pump up your creative portfolio? Behance’s Chief Designer shares insider tips on showcasing your best work and standing out from the crowd.

A good rule of thumb is to present the whole piece first, followed by more detailed shots to show the precision of your craft. Stylized photography is a nice touch, as long as it doesn’t distract from the work itself.

8. Op-Ed: Confidence vs Shyness
Is shyness genetic? Can confidence be learned? Designer James Victore on overcoming self-doubt and acting with conviction.

I was always introduced as, “This is my baby, the shy one.” And thus I became shy. A habit was born. I was told by authority that I was shy, and I began wearing it around like I owned it.Unfortunately, as an adult I found this habit does not serve me well. As a designer and lecturer I frequently find myself on stage or in front of a camera and have to “play” someone who is comfortable being there.

9. How To Run Your Meetings Like Apple and Google
Contrary to popular belief: meetings are not the devil. We look at how to get more creative – and productive – with your weekly gatherings.

Careers have been built on poking fun at meetings. From commercials to comic strips it’s no secret that most of us would rather be, you know, working.But there’s good news: Rapid experimentation with meetings in the past decade by startups and Fortune 500 companies alike has produced a new set of rules to consider.


10. How To Break The Mold & Reinvent Your Resumé

To get great work, you have to get noticed. A curated collection of resumes and other self-promo pieces that break the mold and spark genuine interest.

The options are infinite, but the most successful examples we’ve found have a few qualities in common. They tell a story, inject personality while maintaining professionalism, demonstrate expertise in a relevant way, and – last but not least – pique the curiosity of their recipients.

Our Most Popular Videos

Below are the five videos from the 2012 99U Conference that ended the year as our most popular. To be notified whenever we post a new talk, be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel.


Paula Scher: Do What You’ve Never Done Before



James Victore: Your Work Is A Gift


Tony Fadell: On Setting Constraints, Ignoring Experts & Embracing Self-Doubt


Jonathan Adler: Keep Other People’s Opinions Out Of Your Creative Process


Teresa Amabile: Track Your Small Wins to Motivate Big Accomplishments

Our Most Popular Tweets

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