Embrace the Strange: Strange Habits of Great Minds

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Some of the greatest and most successful minds of all time have also been a little, well, off. After all, as Bruce Feirstein said, “The distance between insanity and genius is measured only by success.” In business, a little out-of-the-box thinking is essential. Every creative department needs a few loose screws here and there to come up with innovative and successful ideas. To honor those who marched to the beat of their own drum (and to inspire you to embrace the strange!), we’re highlighting some of the strange habits and practices of some truly unique thinkers.

1. Oxygen Deprivation

The first weird – and dangerous – habit comes from Dr. Yoshiro Nakamatsu. Dr Nakamatsu has patented over 3,300 over his lifetime, including the floppy disk. When Dr. NakaMats (as he prefers to be called) needed a boost of inspiration, he would dive underwater and wait until he was on the verge of drowning. Then, he would take an underwater notepad and write down his ideas before returning to the surface, gasping for hair. The inventor believed that oxygen deprivation would help him visualize his next invention. While there are certainly safer ways to brainstorm (don’t try this at home!), Dr. NakaMats credits several of his ideas to this method.


2. Tasting Grasshoppers

Albert Einstein was and continues to be inarguably one of the greatest minds of his and any other generation. And, from his hairstyle alone, it’s well-known that this mad scientist was nothing short of unconventional. In fact, in the book My Time with Einstein, Einstein’s chauffer Stanley Cohen noted that he once saw him eat a grasshopper right off the ground. While eating a bug here and there was most likely not giving him any groundbreaking ideas, the curious nature of tasting unorthodox things does show how curiosity can lead to incredible breakthroughs.

 3. Brainstorming in the Bathroom

Nothing says “creative thinking” like a little time spent in the bathroom – and it could even turn you into a compositional genius. In the enlightening book Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey, Beethoven was said to do most of his thinking in there. He would stand at the sink, pace back and forth, and splash water on himself while humming scales and dreaming up his next masterpiece. The practice might have been a little messy (the excess of water on the floor made him a disliked tenant and neighbor), but the results were certainly effective.

Oxygen deprivation, tasting bugs and composing in the bathroom – these ideas might seem like utter nonsense and have no place for a serious entrepreneur or business person. But, sometimes, the greatest ideas come from the strangest places. Don’t be afraid to embrace the strange. It might be the source of your next great idea!