Amy Wilkinson
 
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Each of us has the capacity to spot opportunities, invent products, and build businesses—even $100 million businesses.

How do some people turn ideas into enterprises that endure? Why do some people succeed when so many others fail? The Creator’s Code unlocks the six essential skills that underlie entrepreneurial success. This global best selling book is based on 200 interviews with today’s leading entrepreneurs including the founders of Airbnb, Tesla Motors, SpaceX, LinkedIn, Dropbox, Chipotle, Under Armour, PayPal, eBay, and Jetblue.

Over the course of five years, Amy Wilkinson conducted over 200 interviews and analyzed academic research across many different fields. From the creators of companies as diverse as Yelp, Chobani, and Spanx, she found that creators are not born with an innate ability to conceive and build $100 million enterprises. They work at it. They all share fundamental skills that can be learned, practiced, and passed on.

Entrepreneurial success, Wilkinson demonstrates, is accessible to everyone

 

What People Are Saying

Walter Isaacson Author of The Innovators and Steve Jobs ”Based on 200 interviews with entrepreneurs, this book helps explain the skills needed to be a successful innovator. It’s a great guide filled with smart rules for both starting a business and bringing it to scale.”

Walter Isaacson

Author of The Innovators and Steve Jobs

”Based on 200 interviews with entrepreneurs, this book helps explain the skills needed to be a successful innovator. It’s a great guide filled with smart rules for both starting a business and bringing it to scale.”

Steve Case Cofounder of AOL and Chairman of UP Global “The Creator’s Code provides a roadmap for the next generation of entrepreneurs. Amy Wilkinson’s insights about entrepreneurship, in combination with stories of successes and failures, serves as an inspiration for those looking to create and build new businesses.“

Steve Case

Cofounder of AOL and Chairman of UP Global

“The Creator’s Code provides a roadmap for the next generation of entrepreneurs. Amy Wilkinson’s insights about entrepreneurship, in combination with stories of successes and failures, serves as an inspiration for those looking to create and build new businesses.“

David Kelley Cofounder of IDEO and the Stanford d.School “This book isn’t armchair rumination. It’s required reading for anyone looking to build the next big thing.”

David Kelley

Cofounder of IDEO and the Stanford d.School

“This book isn’t armchair rumination. It’s required reading for anyone looking to build the next big thing.”

Tom Peters Author of The Little Big Things and In Search of Excellence “This book is the inspiring story of men and women who are changing our world. Amy Wilkinson has cracked their code and given us all ways to join their ranks. This book is a game-changer and a life-changer.”

Tom Peters

Author of The Little Big Things and In Search of Excellence

“This book is the inspiring story of men and women who are changing our world. Amy Wilkinson has cracked their code and given us all ways to join their ranks. This book is a game-changer and a life-changer.”

Matt Cohler General partner at Benchmark “Great entrepreneurs make complexity simple. Amy Wilkinson has done just that. This book offers invaluable clarity on the messy process of building a breakthrough business. An inspiring read for those who will shape the future.”

Matt Cohler

General partner at Benchmark

“Great entrepreneurs make complexity simple. Amy Wilkinson has done just that. This book offers invaluable clarity on the messy process of building a breakthrough business. An inspiring read for those who will shape the future.”

Joanna Barsh McKinsey & Company director emeritus and author, Centered Leadership “Amy Wilkinson promises brilliant insight and delivers. If you’re an entrepreneur or a corporate executive working to stay ahead of the curve, read this book ASAP!”

Joanna Barsh

McKinsey & Company director emeritus and author, Centered Leadership

“Amy Wilkinson promises brilliant insight and delivers. If you’re an entrepreneur or a corporate executive working to stay ahead of the curve, read this book ASAP!”

David Gergen Professor of Public Service, Co-Director of the Center for Public Leadership, Harvard Kennedy School of Government ”A leading talent of her generation, Amy Wilkinson has poured five years into wresting secrets of success from 200 top entrepreneurs and then boiled what she learned into six essential skills. The result is a fresh and insightful book.”

David Gergen

Professor of Public Service, Co-Director of the Center for Public Leadership, Harvard Kennedy School of Government

”A leading talent of her generation, Amy Wilkinson has poured five years into wresting secrets of success from 200 top entrepreneurs and then boiled what she learned into six essential skills. The result is a fresh and insightful book.”

Daniel H. Pink Author of To Sell is Human and Drive “The shelves groan with books written by entrepreneurs claiming to reveal their unique formula for success. But I like Amy Wilkinson’s more comprehensive, analytical approach. She’s interviewed hundreds of entrepreneurs, and from that stack of data has distilled the skills that allowed them to rise to the top. The good news? These are skills that anyone can develop. The added bonus? Wilkinson has a ton of great stories and she tells them well.“

Daniel H. Pink

Author of To Sell is Human and Drive

“The shelves groan with books written by entrepreneurs claiming to reveal their unique formula for success. But I like Amy Wilkinson’s more comprehensive, analytical approach. She’s interviewed hundreds of entrepreneurs, and from that stack of data has distilled the skills that allowed them to rise to the top. The good news? These are skills that anyone can develop. The added bonus? Wilkinson has a ton of great stories and she tells them well.“

Watch the Creator's Code Trailer and Kauffman Sketchbook of the Six Essential Skills.

 
 
 

The Six Essential Skills

 
 

Find the Gap

By staying alert, creators spot opportunities that others don’t see. They keep their eyes open for fresh potential, a vacuum to fill, or an unmet need. Creators tend to use one of three distinct techniques: transplanting ideas across divides, designing a new way forward, or merging disparate concepts. I characterize creators who master these approaches as Sunbirds, Architects, or Integrators.

 
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Drive for Daylight

Just as race-car drivers keep their eyes fixed on the road ahead, creators focus on the future, knowing that where they go, their eyes go first. Creators move too fast to navigate by the confines of their lane or the position of their peers. Instead, they focus on the horizon, scan the edges, and avoid nostalgia to set the pace in a fast-moving marketplace.

 
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Fly the OODA loop

Creators continuously update their assumptions. In rapid succession, they observe, orient, decide, and act. Like legendary fighter pilot John Boyd, who pioneered the idea of the “OODA loop,” creators move nimbly from one decision to the next. They master fast-cycle iteration and in short order gain an edge over less agile competitors.

 
 
 
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Fail Wisely

Creators understand that experiencing a series of small failures is essential to avoiding catastrophic mistakes. In the course of practicing and mastering this skill, they set what I call failure ratios, place small bets to test ideas, and develop resilience. They hone the skill to turn setbacks into successes.

Network Minds

To solve multifaceted problems, creators bring together the brainpower of diverse individuals through on- and off-line forums. They harness cognitive diversity to build on each other’s ideas. To do this, creators design shared spaces, foster flash teams, hold prize competitions, and build work-related games. They collaborate with unlikely allies.

Gift Small Goods

Creators unleash generosity by helping others, often by sharing information, pitching in to complete a task, or opening opportunities to colleagues. Offering kindness may not seem like a skill, but it is an essential way that creators strengthen relationships. In an increasingly transparent and interconnected world, generosity makes creators more productive.

 
 
 

The book is based on 200 interviews with cutting-edge creators including the founders of many of today’s leading companies.

 
Joe Gebbia is cofounder of Airbnb, a website for people to rent out lodging. It has over 3,000,000 listings in 65,000+ cities and 191+ countries.

Joe Gebbia is cofounder of Airbnb, a website for people to rent out lodging. It has over 3,000,000 listings in 65,000+ cities and 191+ countries.

Elon Musk is founder of SpaceX, a private space exploration company that designs, manufactures and launches advanced rockets and spacecraft.

Elon Musk is founder of SpaceX, a private space exploration company that designs, manufactures and launches advanced rockets and spacecraft.

Elon Musk is founder of Tesla Motors, a company that designs, manufactures, and sells electric vehicles.

Elon Musk is founder of Tesla Motors, a company that designs, manufactures, and sells electric vehicles.

Reid Hoffman is cofounder and Executive Chairman of the professional networking site LinkedIn, and a Partner at the venture firm Greylock Partners.

Reid Hoffman is cofounder and Executive Chairman of the professional networking site LinkedIn, and a Partner at the venture firm Greylock Partners.

Kevin Plank is founder and CEO of Under Armour, a brand known for its apparel, shoes, and accessories designed for sports & fitness.

Kevin Plank is founder and CEO of Under Armour, a brand known for its apparel, shoes, and accessories designed for sports & fitness.

Steve Ells is founder and CEO of Chipotle Mexican Grill, which combines the speed and convenience of fast food with the high quality ingredients of traditional restaurants.

Steve Ells is founder and CEO of Chipotle Mexican Grill, which combines the speed and convenience of fast food with the high quality ingredients of traditional restaurants.

Drew Houston is cofounder of Dropbox, a file-hosting service that offers cloud storage, file synchronization, personal cloud, and client software.

Drew Houston is cofounder of Dropbox, a file-hosting service that offers cloud storage, file synchronization, personal cloud, and client software.

Sara Blakely is founder of Spanx, a company that specializes in foundation garments, including undergarments and bodysuit shapewear.

Sara Blakely is founder of Spanx, a company that specializes in foundation garments, including undergarments and bodysuit shapewear.

Peter Thiel is cofounder of Palantir technologies and PayPal,  an international digital wallet-based e-commerce business.

Peter Thiel is cofounder of Palantir technologies and PayPal,  an international digital wallet-based e-commerce business.

Pierre Omidyar is cofounder and Chairman of eBay, and cofounder of the philanthropic investment firm Omidyar Network.

Pierre Omidyar is cofounder and Chairman of eBay, and cofounder of the philanthropic investment firm Omidyar Network.

David Neeleman is cofounder and former CEO of JetBlue Airways, and most recently the Founder and CEO of Brazilian airline Azul.

David Neeleman is cofounder and former CEO of JetBlue Airways, and most recently the Founder and CEO of Brazilian airline Azul.

Jeremy Stoppelman is cofounder of Yelp, a crowd-sourced review service that allows for customers to make educated decisions about local businesses.

Jeremy Stoppelman is cofounder of Yelp, a crowd-sourced review service that allows for customers to make educated decisions about local businesses.

David Kelley is cofounder of IDEO, a global design and innovation consultancy firm that provides design-based marketing solutions for the public and private sectors.

David Kelley is cofounder of IDEO, a global design and innovation consultancy firm that provides design-based marketing solutions for the public and private sectors.

Joe Lonsdale and Peter Thiel are cofounders of Palantir, a computer software and services company that specializes in data analysis.

Joe Lonsdale and Peter Thiel are cofounders of Palantir, a computer software and services company that specializes in data analysis.

Jeff Skoll is founder of Participant Media, the Skoll Foundation, and the Skoll Urgent Threats Fund. He is the first President of eBay.

Jeff Skoll is founder of Participant Media, the Skoll Foundation, and the Skoll Urgent Threats Fund. He is the first President of eBay.

Anne Wojcicki founded 23andMe, a company that analyzes an individuals DNA to provide genetic testing, direct-to-consumer.

Anne Wojcicki founded 23andMe, a company that analyzes an individuals DNA to provide genetic testing, direct-to-consumer.

Jessica Herrin is founder of Stella & Dot, a boutique-style jewelry company that creates flexible entrepreneurial opportunities for women.

Jessica Herrin is founder of Stella & Dot, a boutique-style jewelry company that creates flexible entrepreneurial opportunities for women.

Kirsten Tobey and Kristin Richmond are cofounders of Revolution Foods,  a food and beverages company that provides access to high-quality, affordable meals in schools and in stores.

Kirsten Tobey and Kristin Richmond are cofounders of Revolution Foods,  a food and beverages company that provides access to high-quality, affordable meals in schools and in stores.

Alex Laskey and Dan Yates are cofounders of Opower, a Software-as-a-Service company that partners with utilities around the world to promote energy efficiency.

Alex Laskey and Dan Yates are cofounders of Opower, a Software-as-a-Service company that partners with utilities around the world to promote energy efficiency.

Joe Lonsdale is cofounder of Addepar, a technology platform that aims to make investing more data-driven, transparent, and impactful.

Joe Lonsdale is cofounder of Addepar, a technology platform that aims to make investing more data-driven, transparent, and impactful.

Alph Bingham is cofounder of Innocentive, an “open innovation” company which promotes research and development through prize competitions.

Alph Bingham is cofounder of Innocentive, an “open innovation” company which promotes research and development through prize competitions.

 Jake Nickell is cofounder of Threadless, a global community-driven design platform that features designs created by various designers, artists, and general consumers.

 Jake Nickell is cofounder of Threadless, a global community-driven design platform that features designs created by various designers, artists, and general consumers.

David Sacks is founder of Yammer, an enterprise social network that helps employees collaborate across departments, locations, and business applications.

David Sacks is founder of Yammer, an enterprise social network that helps employees collaborate across departments, locations, and business applications.

Robin Chase is cofounder of Zipcar, a peer-to-peer carsharing company.

Robin Chase is cofounder of Zipcar, a peer-to-peer carsharing company.