Excerpt from Savanting: Outperforming your Potential, Chapter 15 (2019) by Lauren Holmes
Almost all creativity requires purposeful play. Abraham Maslow
While “innovation” improves an existing system, “creativity” merges existing information systems to generate an entirely new unprecedented system. In Chapter 3, I noted that American cognitive psychologist Howard Gardner claimed that we are only creative in one or a few domains in which we have expertise. Therefore, before you label yourself uncreative, it’s important to assume you are only creative in your savant domain.
In addition, researchers such as Harvard’s Teresa Amabile have studies which show that creativity increases during flow states. Because of biological maximization, bioflow compliance, and activity fusion, savantflows will increase creativity even more.
Therefore, in your savant domain you might be tremendously creative, especially if the bioflow is feeding you the right information at the right time to fuel it. With savanting, even noncreatives may become creative. Simply choose savant-domain activities which will incite savantflows. This is the formula for your greatest creations.
Many assume Steve Jobs is synonymous with creativity and Bill Gates is not. Yet, both men changed the world. Let’s explore these assumptions to see what we can learn about savanting’s creativity and how to exploit it for your own worldchanging creations.
Steve Jobs said of Gates, “Bill is basically unimaginative and has never invented anything, which is why I think he’s more comfortable now in philanthropy than technology.” “He just shamelessly ripped off other people’s ideas.”[i]
Yale University computer science professor, David Gelernter, wrote in “Time” magazine in 1998 that he believes Gates is overrated as a pioneer and entrepreneur. “Bill Gates is an American unoriginal.” “It can be wiser to follow than to lead.” Gelernter contends that Microsoft often makes products by re-combining ideas that already exist in the marketplace.
Isn’t this the very definition of creativity in the savanting paradigm? Steve Jobs’ own definition confirms it: “Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things.”
Bill Gates’ genius arises from his talent for re-combining entities throughout his life to generate the unprecedented – software programs, businesses, organizations, industries, governments, OED computer manufacturers, philanthropists, charitable organizations, and so on as he aged. His creativity can’t be confined to Jobs’ limited world of device invention.
In the infancy of Microsoft before Bill’s consciousness had expanded, he could address the creation of a program or later, the re-combining of existing programs, to invent a new program which he would then modify and enhance.
However, with years of savantflows triggering the expansion of his consciousness, Gates’ ability to re-combine what exists expanded to larger entities. Jobs savant domain and creativity was more like that of savants – narrow but deep. Comparing the creativity of the two men is like comparing an “Apple” to an orange.
Someone laid down the early structures of the personal computing and software industries – the licensing, structure, standards, and rules of operation behind it. Creativity occurred. Can anyone really suggest Bill Gates was not the key creator? Especially as he does the same for the field of philanthropy and through it to many aspects of the infrastructure underpinning our society.
There can be little doubt about Bill’s talent for generating the foundations for new frontiers, governments, organizations, industries, and markets. Microsoft thrived locked into the marketplace by Bill’s brilliant business constructs, innovations, and partnerships which made its less-than-stellar technology number one.
Because Jobs did not recognize Bill’s creativity beyond technology, he did not cultivate it in himself. This was undoubtedly a contributing factor to his being fired from Apple for a decade and the creation of a culture which took Apple to the brink of bankruptcy. The brilliance of Job’s design required him to relentlessly commit to a narrow focus. This dedicated focus is a key contributor to the brilliance of his designs.
The executive summary
Let me overview my response to this question before going into detail with examples. Both entrepreneurs had the same intent – to better the lives of individuals en masse. Both were merged within the bioflow evolving the human race, so they generated products at the forefront of humanity’s evolution. Both were being fed the right information at the right time by the bioflow to catalyze creativity in their respective savant domains.
Their missions overlapped for most of their careers in the field of personal computing, which – as we have already seen with their success outside of that field – did not define either of their savant domains. The creativity of Jobs and Gates are, by definition, the same. Both re-combined existing systems to create an unprecedented system.
However, how they arrived at their end results was different. Jobs used more creative inspiration where the creative re-combination occurred in his head. It was achieved by breakthroughs fueled by information systems from the bioflow. His quote earlier in the chapter reinforces an internal remix.
Gates, on the other hand, used more logic with the re-combining information occurring externally. It was fueled by coincidences, models and facilitating people and events generated by the bioflow. His creativity was more action-based.
Their savant domains are different. Bill’s is broad and big picture. Steve’s was narrow, deep and detailed. Bill’s consciousness or span of purview was significantly wider. This increased his source of fuel for his creations and the information systems he re-combined were bigger.
Gates built the Microsoft product line and business through partnering and inclusion for shared prosperity. Jobs’ strategy was more isolating by design. He structured Apple initially to have an exclusive, proprietary, and independent product line which did not mesh well with others.
However, he seemed to model Gates’ inclusion approach when he returned to Apple to rescue it from bankruptcy after his ten-year absence. Pixar’s work with Disney and others may also have contributed to his transformation as well.
Jobs came to allow others to generate applications for his exclusive product line which helped him to defeat competition such as Blackberry which followed Jobs into exclusion but missed his redirection to inclusion. Blackberry missed the app bandwagon that saved Apple – especially with its iPhone market penetration. Without a plethora of device-compliant applications, functionality and personalization were greatly reduced.
The GUIs incident
Let me reveal some of the historical events upon which I based these opinions. While at Apple, Steve Jobs contracted Bill Gates at Microsoft to write new software to provide the graphical user interfaces (GUIs) that were so critical to so many of Jobs’ greatest inventions.
These interfaces would allow a user to interact with electronic devices through graphical icons and visual indicators rather than having to type commands on a keyboard. As you might imagine, requiring users to learn a plethora of keyboard commands would present an intimidating barrier to entry for most.
Bill Gates was enthralled with the idea of graphical user interfaces and wanted to use them for Microsoft instead of Apple. Unfortunately, it would be unethical to steal a client’s idea. Fortunately, Bill coincidentally discovered that Jobs had learned the idea from products both Apple and Microsoft people had seen at Xerox PARC. Xerox had revealed what they had developed in the hopes that known producers such as Apple and Microsoft would buy the technology or help Xerox to commercialize it.
Therefore, GUIs were not Steve Jobs’ proprietary idea. It would therefore be fair game for Bill to develop software with graphical user interfaces for Microsoft instead. This led to the birth of Windows, a system that uses a mouse to drive a graphic interface which displayed text and images on the screen. Windows was quite an improvement over the text-and-keyboard-driven MS-DOS operating system.
Needless to say, when Jobs heard about Windows, he went ballistic. This led to Apple initiating a court case which was later dismissed as being without merit. But fair is fair. This is how creativity works – new creations emerge by re-combining existing information systems.
While Bill may have sourced software from the marketplace, he was quite clever about adapting and enhancing it for greater market receptivity. He did the same with Xerox’s GUIs.
He did not directly copy what Xerox had done. Rather, Gates combined Xerox’s ideas with the trends in his reality and other information systems plus his years of programming finesse to achieve a significantly more advanced outcome with Windows. Bill was just as creative but didn’t see the need to start from scratch as Jobs did.
Might I also note in Gates’ defense that, despite his criticism of Bill for “ripping off the ideas of others,” Jobs was unconsciously doing exactly the same thing with what he had learned from Xerox. This is not a criticism. This is simply the way creativity works for evolution’s adaptivity, for the uber-creative Steve Jobs, and for all of us ordinary folk.
Had Jobs realized this basic underlying dynamic of creativity on an implementation level, he might not have suffered the stresses and strains of the creative tension arising from demanding so much originality from himself and others. I think this creative tension led to issues with his temper, his toxic disparagement of others, and the health problems that plagued him. Even a dedication to mindfulness meditation could not dissipate all the creative tension he experienced.
It was undoubtedly this disposition and temperament which caused Jobs to launch a smear campaign against Gates. As we have seen, Jobs respected Gates enough to hire Microsoft for software development. According to his authorized biography, Jobs kept a note from Bill Gates beside his deathbed.[ii] All was not what it seemed between them. It would appear that many have had a plethora of wrong impressions about Bill Gates for decades.
What Jobs and others assumed was Bill Gates’ savant domain was, in fact, not. As a reminder, “domain” and “field” or “industry” are not interchangeable in savanting. Existing epithets, fields, and categories may not apply.
Your savant domain is based on the maximization of your biological wiring. The bioflow maximizing machinery decides what your savant domain is at any moment in time based on the theme of which intrinsically or biologically rewarding activities incite your savantflows.
Jeff Bezos knew the truth about Gates when he switched disciplines from physics and Stephen Hawking’s space to computer science and Bill Gates’ worldbuilding. Yes, it is Bezos and Gates who are comparable not Jobs.
Jobs is the artist who strived for perfection in design to produce devices that were universally loved aesthetically and functionally. Steve was an aesthetic idealist to whom it was more important to create the best product than to sell the most. He had passion and vision for what technology could do in people’s lives and the magnetic charisma and incredible showmanship to promote his devices. Steve Jobs is truly a legend in the field of innovative and interactive design.
For Jobs, software was merely the means to run his devices, make them more endearing and better able to enhance the lives of consumers. For Gates and Bezos, it was the means to advance the structural underpinnings of civilization globally. For Zuckerberg, it was the means to unite humanity by creating, reinforcing, and joining the constellation of relationships of each individual. For all four, it was about bettering the quality of life of individuals en masse.
Bill Gates has a proven history of a logic-sourced creativity that even noncreatives might emulate. Gates took existing technology, adapted it to a specific market, and then dominated that market through innovative promotion and shrewd business savvy.
For example, Gates shrewdly chose not to offer to transfer to IBM the copyright on the MS-DOS operating system Microsoft was hired by IBM to write because he believed that other hardware vendors would clone IBM’s system. This was Gates’ form of brilliant creativity. And he was right.
Much as he had anticipated, after the first IBM PCs were released, cloners such as Compaq began producing compatible PCs, and the market was soon flooded with clones. Rather than produce their own operating systems, the cloners decided it was cheaper to purchase MS-DOS off the shelf.
As a result, MS-DOS became the standard operating system for the industry. By 1993, Windows was selling at a rate of 1 million copies per month and was estimated to be running on nearly 85 percent of the world’s computers. Microsoft’s sales soared from $7 million in 1980 to $16 million in 1981.
A single creative business move may have generated the bulk of Microsoft’s revenue. Jobs, David Gelernter, and others had missed the true creativity and worldchanging breakthroughs of Bill Gates.
Microsoft solidified its industry dominance through another creative business move in the mid-1990s. They combined Windows with their other applications to create “suites,” then persuaded leading computer makers to preload their software on every computer they sold. The strategy worked so well that by 1999 Microsoft was posting sales of $19.7 billion, and Gates’ personal wealth had grown to a phenomenal $90 billion.
Gates’ passion for global business changed how business was done both within his industries and other industries as well. He set standards, first with MS-DOS and later with Windows. These standards shaped the modern computer industry and will continue to influence its growth for decades.
And now, he is repeating the process to generate new standards, structure, and strategy for more impactful mega-philanthropy to ensure it will cause permanent transformation in the world. The message here is that the real magic of the science behind savanting occurs in one’s savant domain. For those craving global impact, honor internal and external biology. Exploit biology to live a life of serial creativity and breakthroughs that will evolve humanity.
Bill Gates was criticized in the 1990s for not recognizing the power and potential of the internet. He was accused of not being visionary. Gates admits he did not embrace the Web until 1996, two years after browsers debuted. However, this does not mean this was the wrong decision for him or Microsoft.
It is not necessary to “see” trends if one is using the signals to move moment by moment with the bioflow evolutionary engine that is generating those trends. The bioflow would have been orchestrating the maximum of Gates’ system within the maximization of the Microsoft system within the maximization process for humanity’s system.
There is lots of evidence that Gates’ was attuned to the evolutionary advance of those three systems as well as those within his savant domain. Just by continuing to do intrinsically rewarding work every day, he could experience all the benefits of knowing trends without knowing them.
What appeared in 20/20 hindsight to be smart business strategy may in fact be simply compliance with the bioflow day after day as he had done since childhood because he had never lost the connection into which each of us are born.
Nonvisionaries can thus proceed as if they are insightful visionaries. By moving with the trendsetting bioflow engine one may exploit the trends to maximize within one’s savant domain. This is another way that the ordinary may achieve the extraordinary.
With 20/20 hindsight, the signals did not fail Gates. Microsoft’s browser, Internet Explorer, benefited from having a few years to see what features of other browsers were most valued. Microsoft could then capitalize on the best of the browsers to leapfrog them to create a product ahead of them all.
In yet another seemingly brilliant business breakthrough, Gates was then able to prevail in the browser market by bundling Internet Explorer with the Windows operating system, Internet Service Provider software, and new PCs from OEMs.
Thus, without the requirement for a user-initiated installation, Microsoft could lock consumers into its browser solution before users even had a chance to acquire and try another browser. Gates had not only caught up to the Netscape browser lead but leapfrogged ahead as he did with the Xerox GUIs.
The Netscape browser ultimately died despite its rapid success after early market entry. This was yet another business decision made by Bill Gates that locked in Microsoft revenues. It was not the browser “technology” which made the money. It was Gates’ savvy and creativity in inventing new business infrastructure in the frontiers of his savant domain.
Not everyone needs to have the creative mind of a Jobs or the venturing prowess of a Bezos to have creative breakthroughs. Noncreatives and nonvisionaries may proceed in partnership with the bioflow as if they have both creativity and vision. You are about to learn some of the ways in which the four iconic founders exploited the dynamic flow of information all around them as byproducts of this incredible biological guidance system.
As Bill Gates proves, despite his not having the technology visionary capabilities of a Steve Jobs, he was still able to sustain his position at the forefront of technology trends. He moved Microsoft at top speed to greater success than Apple by not just assimilating existing technologies but using them as springboards to jump ahead.
More about leapfrogging and springboarding in Chapter 17 to capitalize on environmental scanning to increase your creativity and creations. Technology vision is only a small part of Bill Gates’ savant domain for bettering the lives of people. His vision and creativity in the invention of the business infrastructure portion of his savant domain are unsurpassed.
Bill’s partnership with nature’s bio-underpinnings was working perfectly. Again, with 20/20 hindsight, Gates’ decision to focus on Windows in the mid-nineties over the internet was the right one for him and for Microsoft, even if the nay-sayers were correct and he seemingly did not have the vision to realize its value.
He analyzed the signposts inside and outside of himself correctly and took the right action as if he was a visionary. Significant revenues from the internet did not really emerge until around 2004 as Gates, the supposed nonvisionary, had predicted 10 years earlier. Therefore, little was lost by delaying attention to a browser and much was in fact gained by focusing on Windows.
So far, we have explored how savanting facilitates “brilliant breakthroughs from the nonbrilliant,” “creativity from noncreatives” and “vision from nonvisionaries.” Now we want to investigate how savanting enables “exceptional execution from the execution-challenged.”
[i] Walter Isaacson, Steve Jobs, October 24, 2011, Simon & Schuster
[ii] Walter Isaacson, Steve Jobs, October 24, 2011, Simon & Schuster
As CEO of Frontiering.com, Lauren Holmes invents customized companies, projects, jobs, and career and company strategies which will enable clients to biologically maximize to achieve goals and impact at their maximum or beyond. Lauren is a biological anthropologist who helps people and companies to superachieve by extending their capabilities with surrounding biological infrastructure with which humans have evolved to partner. Contact her through LaurenHolmes.com/contact.