Creativity and creative problem-solving can be that extra something that distinguishes sheer talent and hard work from booming success.

There are a lot of talented young artists, but there is only one Lady Gaga. It’s not because she is more talented or more beautiful. It’s not because she sings or dances better and it’s not because she’s interesting, in her weird Gaga way. It’s because she has that extra touch of creativity in building her business empire.

In fact, Lady Gaga was crowned at first place in the Top 100 Most Creative People in Business by Fast Company. Some other creative minds that impress with their idiosyncratic approach to business and entrepreneurship are Ryan Murphy (the creator and producer of Glee), Eddy Cue (VP of Internet Services at Apple), Jay Z (artist and founder of Roc Nation), Haiping Zhao (Senior software engineer at Facebook) and James Cameron (filmmaker).

So what are some things that these folks have in common?

1. Higher than average intelligence
Research with creative people reaches a definite conclusion: smarter individuals tend to be more creative. This doesn’t mean you have to be a genius. The average college graduate has an IQ of 120 (the average for the general population is 100), which seems to be ‘just enough’ to nurture creativity in any field of work. Interestingly, people with extremely high IQ are not any more creative1.

2. Substantial general knowledge and diverse interests
Creative souls usually have a broad knowledge base. To be an expert in only one field is great for an academic or a researcher, but it’s not optimal for creativity. For example, knowing something about marketing, psychology, and finance in addition to your field of expertise is much more beneficial for any venture.

Creative people also appear to have various interests. They combine ideas from different fields fluently. Their though is flexible in finding connections between fields, problems and solutions. They often use metaphors and mental images to express their ideas2.

3. Openness to experience
Creative minds are hardly rigid and conventional. On the contrary, they accept new ideas, even ‘weird’ ones. They tend to be uninhibited about their fantasies and feelings and make them come to life. They love to challenge assumptions, break established rules and find order in the chaos.

Creative people often have more unusual experiences (vivid dreams, daydreaming, mystical experiences)4.

4. Enjoy symbolism
Creative individuals appreciate symbolism and often use it to express their ideas, explore possibilities and talk about concepts (just look at some Jay Z, Madonna or Lady Gaga lyrics). Creative minds are interested in the truth and always look for it. They appreciate beauty and are not as concerned about recognition and success (although it often follows them wherever they go). Their creative work is an end in itself.

5. Value independence and complexity
Rigid work routine and inflexible boundaries are torture for the creative mind. These people value independence and prefer complexity, that’s why they may often feel constricted and oppressed in their work and might therefore challenge the rules. Although they usually are nonconformists in their work, they are not usually bizarre personalities.

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