The Value of Creativity – Part 1

Part 1 of 3

Some Introductory Thoughts…

I make my living, such as it is, on creativity, spit and a little shoe polish. Well, not so much spit and shoe polish. I’m a writer, a designer, and a serial entrepreneur. I’m also a so-called “expert” on creativity. Which is why I found myself, at three o’clock one morning, thinking about the inherent value of creativity.

Well, that’s one reason; the other is that I couldn’t sleep, and I had to think about something.

Here are some of the thoughts I came up with during my late-night contemplation.

A Bold Assumption
Of course, by discussing the “value” of “creativity,” I’m making the bold assumption that creativity has value.

I’d like to start by defining both terms, so we know exactly what we’re talking about when we begin to converse about the value of creativity. defines value as, among other meanings:

“- Worth in usefulness or importance to the possessor; utility or merit: the value of an education.
– Precise meaning or import, as of a word.”

I like the idea of creativity as the precise meaning of something, but what we’re really concerned with is that creativity has value in terms of being useful or important to its “owner.”

So what is creativity? Again, pulling up

I found three definitions, and all of them are useful in this context:

“1. Having the ability or power to create: Human beings are creative animals.
2. Productive; creating.
3. Characterized by originality and expressiveness; imaginative: creative writing.”

I’m going to use the third definition, “characterized by originality and expressiveness.”

So when we talk about the “value of creativity,” what we’re saying is that it’s useful or important to be able to think and produce with originality and expressiveness.

The Monetary Value of Creativity

But I want to digress for a moment and talk about the monetary value of creativity, which can also be very important. Creative people, and even those people who don’t think of themselves as creative but do have creative thoughts, have to make a living.

How can creativity have monetary value, aside from the obvious things like rock stars and bestselling authors?

There are several things to consider here. The first is that a lot of people make a living, sometimes a very good living, doing creative work without reaching the status of movie idols. Some of those people are writers, some are graphic designers, some are lighting technicians….

But aside from those people doing obviously creative work for a living, most people who are happy and successful in their jobs are using creativity to make a living. They may be auto mechanics who have a special ear for that knock in the engine, or CEOs who are particularly astute with numbers and seem to have a knack for understanding complex figures.
Whatever their official job, they’re using creativity on the job because they’re using originality and expressiveness in their jobs.

So creativity does have monetary value.

But let’s get back to the more esoteric value of creativity.