How Ideas Happen
Introducing a new podcast series where I interview some of the world's most brilliant minds about how they do their best thinking
[Quick summary: I’m starting a new podcast series on Substack—in partnership with The TED Interview—where I’m asking some of the world’s leading thinkers about their personal creative workflow. If you’re not a paying subscriber yet, you can upgrade your subscription to be able to hear or read the episodes by clicking this delightful orange button…]
I'm writing this to you all from Brazil—currently in Porto Alegre—where I’m doing a few speeches and a mini book-tour for Extra Life. This is, by far, the most geographically adventurous trip that I’ve taken since the pre-COVID era, and it’s reminded me of two things: one, it is truly a miracle of modern life that you can have dinner on one continent and then have breakfast the next morning on another; and two, nine hours is an atrocious amount of time to spend on an airplane.
I promised in the last edition of Adjacent Possible that I would be sharing some interesting news for subscribers, a project that has been several months in the making. As most of you know, one of the primary benefits of being a paying subscriber to the newsletter is having access to a continuing series I’ve been writing on the tools and best practices behind a creative workflow. The series has developed nicely I think over the past ten months or so since I started it, covering everything from the latest note-taking software to the science behind the connection between thinking and walking. In the early days of the newsletter, I was also doing short interviews with thinkers like Stewart Brand and Daniel Pink that were also behind the paywall, but when I took over the TED Interview podcast earlier this year, I put those interviews on hold while I tried to figure out the best way to integrate the TED conversations into the newsletter.
And then it occurred to me a little while ago that I was interviewing people for the TED podcast who have had some of the most provocative and influential ideas in the world. And much of this newsletter—even beyond the creative workflow series—has been devoted to the question of how to have better ideas, and how we can learn from the strategies of great thinkers (such as Darwin and his “thinking path.”) It seemed logical to combine the two pursuits. I mean, one of the great luxuries of hosting the TED Interview is getting to talk to all these brilliant people—it would be a shame not to peek behind the curtain and ask them a little about their individual work habits.
And so I’m thrilled to announce that in collaboration with the team at the TED Audio Collective, I’m going to add a new series—with both text and audio—for paying subscribers to Adjacent Possible going forwards. For each interview on the TED podcast, I’m recording an additional 5-10 minute section where I ask the guest about their workflow: where do they do their best thinking? How do they organize their ideas? What software do they use? How do they organize their day to ensure that they have time to think?
The first guest is the wonderful Pulitzer-Prize-winning science writer Ed Yong, and we have conversations already recorded or scheduled with experts from the medical sciences, National Book Award winners, beloved Internet cartoonists, and one of the most influential musicians of the past forty years. It’s going to be an amazing series, and for the first time you’ll have the option of listening to Adjacent Possible in podcast form if you’re one of those audio-first types. All it takes is upgrading to a paying subscription for $5/month. (And as always, you can opt to become an “ideal reader” and I will send you a signed copy of my latest book.)
The only other way to be able to hear these conversations is to become a subscriber to the TED Audio Collective+ on the Apple Podcasts app, which gives you early and ad-free episodes of The TED Interview, along with all the other excellent podcasts that they produce. So if you’d rather spend your money there, that’s fine with me too. I won’t take it personally! (Though you won’t get emailed versions of the conversations, and all the other features that paying subscribers enjoy here at Adjacent Possible.) Either way, if you’re an Adjacent Possible reader, I think you’ll want to follow along with this series.
I'll be sending out a link to the first episode of the podcast to paying subscribers shortly. Hopefully there won't be any hiccups using the Substack podcast platform, but no promises. My plan for the text transcripts of the conversations is to combine two episodes into a single newsletter that I'll send out every few weeks so I'm not overloading your inboxes.
Tchau! <—— (apparently the Brazilian version of “ciao” which I just learned today.)
[Art by Stable Diffusion. Prompt: “logo for podcast on creative thinking typewriter Wes Anderson style”]