Six Degrees Of Inspiration

Whom do bold thinkers look to for inspiration? Other innovators, of course. Here, we trace one creativity chain:

Six Degrees Of Inspiration


Rachel Shechtman, Cube Ventures

“A serial entrepreneur, Graham Hill integrates design, function, technology, and new ways of doing business, and as a result, his work is successful and meaningful.”

Graham Hill, TreeHugger

“As all great designers do, Yves Béhar combines creative out-of-the-box thinking with strong aesthetic skills and therefore creates smart, beautiful products that delight their users.”

Yves Béhar, Fuseproject

“David Adjaye has opened up the architectural-style fortress with art influences and African influences, both at the institutional-building scale and in smaller domestic spaces.”


David Adjaye, Adjaye Associates

“Stephen Burks is a forerunner in his sphere. From retail interiors and events to lighting, furniture, and industrial design, he is constantly pushing boundaries and pursuing firsts.”

Stephen Burks, Readymade Projects

“Kevin Kunstadt and Andrew Kenney of photography gallery K&K are technical geniuses who make perfect pictures look like play.”

Kevin Kunstadt, K&K

“Stephen Doyle does really smart design. He approaches problems with great sensitivity and an open mind.”


Stephen Doyle, Doyle Partners

“Artist Maira Kalman has the gift of wonder and the discipline to record what she finds wonderful, whether it’s a painting, a poem, an opera, or a hat.”

Maira Kalman, artist and author

“Nico Muhly is a brilliant composer. He incorporates incredibly eclectic influences, from American folk songs to biblical texts to Philip Glass.”

Nico Muhly, composer

“Mary H.K. Choi writes funny things that are brimming with slang but have a profundity and social urgency. She is hilarious.”


Mary H.K. Choi, MTV Style

“Kerin Rose is a glitter queen and professional bedazzler who fashions molten face masks for Japanese Vogue, spike-cowl contraptions for Lady Gaga, and louche-tastic sunglasses for Rihanna.”

Kerin Rose, A-morir

“Jordan Silver’s passion for vintage eyewear is matched only by his extensive knowledge. He is always thinking about the next five steps he can take to grow his brand.”

Jordan Silver, Silver Lining Opticians

“Jessica Gold is a 21st-century marketing and business force in the fashion industry. Her dry sense of humor and willingness to be honest are traits not often found in freelance consultants.”


Jessica Gold, JG & Co.

“Heather Clawson writes the fantastic interior design and lifestyle blog Habitually Chic. Her entries are consistently interesting and great to look at; she has an excellent eye for style.”

Heather Clawson, Habitually Chic

“After working as the creative director of Kate Spade for 11 years, Julia Leach has gone out on her own with lifestyle brand Chance. I can’t wait to watch her realize all of her dreams.”

Julia Leach, Chance

“Working with startups at Redscout Ventures, Roo Rogers looks at issues that won’t enter the cultural conversation for months. He’s constantly ahead of the ever-shifting curve.”


Roo Rogers, Redscout Ventures

“I love the way Christine Muhlke is reinventing Bon Appétit. She finds stories that are often hidden in an obscure town or remote island and brings them to life for a mass audience.”

Christine Muhlke, Bon Appétit

“Jonathan Butler and Eric Demby have transformed a parking lot into a spot for 12,000 shoppers with Brooklyn Flea. They’ve made mini moguls out of chocolatiers and Salvadoran pupusa makers.”

Eric Demby, Brooklyn Flea

“Blue Marble Ice Cream emphasizes regional networks and yummy natural foods. The founders recently launched an ice-cream parlor in Rwanda to create economic growth. They’re the sweetest gals, too.”


Alexis Miesen, Blue Marble Ice Cream

“Koyalee Chanda directed the wildly popular Blue’s Clues at the age of 23. She now owns a productions company, Inner Dog. It weaves nuanced humor and story lines into child-friendly material.”

Koyalee Chanda, Inner Dog Productions

“Through her writing, Deborah Reber is actually changing young girls’ lives by empowering them to tell their own stories, in their own words.”

Deborah Reber, author

“Jess Weiner is leveraging the energy and passion of pro-girl-empowerment gurus around the world to create change. She is one of my personal mentors.”


Jess Weiner, The Actionist Network

“Seth Matlins was CMO of Live Nation, but since the adoption of his kids, he’s been tackling social issues. Off Our Chests is a site that helps women address whatever is ‘hating on their happy.'”

Seth Matlins,

“Josh Spear and Aaron Dignan of Undercurrent are building the next great digital agency, showing the largest companies in the world how to speak with — not at — their audiences.”

Josh Spear, Undercurrent

“John McArthur is combating extreme poverty with his nonprofit, Millennium Promise. Doubling food production in these countries is commonplace — to me, that’s absolutely mind-blowing!”


John McArthur, Millennium Promise

“The founder of LinkedIn, Reid Hoffman, is one of the most incisive, thoughtful, and publicly minded people out there.”

Reid Hoffman, LinkedIn

“Joichi Ito is building a global Singapore incubator for startups, is the leading angel investor in the Middle East, and helps run the largest guild on World of Warcraft.”

Joichi Ito, Creative Commons

“Mohamed Nanabhay at Al Jazeera gets software, media, the overthrow of governments, international relations, and startups. He’s a key person in the future of the Middle East.”


Mohamed Nanabhay, Al Jazeera English

“As a social-media strategist at National Public Radio, Andy Carvin has used Twitter to become a fire hose of news and information on the events in the Middle East.”

Andy Carvin, NPR

“Clay Shirky is one of the best big-picture thinkers I’ve ever met. He understands the impact of social media and the evolving business and practice of journalism — topics that are near to my heart.”

Clay Shirky, author

“Benedetta Piantella Simeonidis takes the lessons of open source and rapid, iterated prototyping and applies them to designing hardware for the developing world. The work is both simple and surprising, a rare combination.”


Benedetta Piantella Simeonidis, Ground Lab

“Limor Fried is an amazing engineer who has started a fantastic series of open-source resources that everyone in my field has had a chance to use at some point.”

Limor Fried, Adafruit Industries

“I love Nick Dragotta and Saul Griffith’s comic series Howtoons. Saul’s science and DIY–friendly writing with Nick’s art are inspiring the next generation of scientists and engineers.”

Saul Griffith, Other Lab

“Tatjana Dzambazova works at Autodesk where she cares deeply about, and works tirelessly for, better design tools. She is a pioneer in making design more participatory, democratic, and social.”


Tatjana Dzambazova, Autodesk

“I admire Google for making this world a better place by making uncensored information available to all of us, thus forever changing our everyday lives, work, and understanding of the world.”

Jim Faris, Google

“I applaud the simple beauty of product, interaction, and identity design in Ammunition’s work. The museum-quality aesthetic in every single millimeter of what they design is remarkable.

Brett Wickens, Ammunition

“Matt Jones at digital-design studio Berg understands what it is to be a designer in the new world. He not only helps clients uncover possibilities, but he’s adept at creating the tools to make them a reality.”

Matt Jones, Berg

“With the amount of data that our lives generate, I’m glad there are people like Hilary Mason creating products with not only the skill of an engineer but also the care of an artisan.”

Hilary Mason,

“Nora Abousteit is the rare kind of leader who can pull together technology, publishing, and fashion, and inspire people. She’s creating a dynamic business in open-source fashion.”

Nora Abousteit,

“Zach Klein is cofounder of Vimeo
and co-owner of College Humor, and he is now starting or investing in creative companies that all have great aesthetics and high quality. Everything he does is refreshing.”

Zach Klein, entrepreneur

“I believe Isaiah Saxon, Sean Hellfritsch, and Daren Rabinovitch at digital animation studio Encyclopedia Pictura will be as mesmerizing to children today as Jim Henson was to my generation.”

Isaiah Saxon, Encyclopedia Pictura

“Marcin Jakubowski is a farmer/ technologist selflessly dedicated to a network of farmers and engineers developing open-source tools for building self-sufficient communities.

Marcin Jakubowski, Open Source Ecology

“A senior TED fellow, Cesar Harada is a groundbreaker on oil-spill cleanup using open source technology.”

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