In 2007, Apple launched the iPhone.

In America you could only use the iPhone on AT&T’s network.

But a teenager called George Hotz didn’t want to use AT&T.

He wanted to use T-Mobile.

So he opened his iPhone, located the processor, scrambled the code, and reprogrammed it to work with any network.

Then he posted a video about it on YouTube, and got 2 million hits.

Because this was the world’s first hacked iPhone.

But the best part for me was what happened next.

Steve Wozniak, co founder of Apple, said “I understand the mind set of a person who wants to do that, and I don’t think of people like that as criminals.

In fact, I think that misbehaviour is very strongly correlated with and responsible for creative thought.”

That last line is so good, I’m going to repeat it.

“Misbehaviour is very strongly correlated with and responsible for creative thought.”

In other words, people who are scared stiff of getting into trouble are going to have a hard time being creative.

Creativity is nearly always a reaction against something.

A desire to overthrow the establishment.

To change things.

That’s why it causes outrage.

That’s why it goes against the rules.

1907, Picasso exhibited his painting ‘Les Demoiselles d’Avignon”.

A painting of 5 prostitutes in a brothel.

It combined, for the first time, primitive tribal art with cubism.

When he saw it, the influential art dealer Ambroise Vollard said “This is the work of a mad man.”

The painter Braque said “Picasso is spitting turpentine in our faces.”

But within a year it was considered a game changing work.

In a few more years, it was considered a masterpiece.

Today, it is universally acknowledged as the painting that marks the birth of modern art.

Ten years later, Marcel Duchamp entered a urinal into sculpture exhibition in New York.

That’s all, a urinal.

The committee were horrified, they refused to even have it in the exhibition.

The sculpture was thrown into an alley and eventually destroyed.

Subsequently that sculpture is seen as the birth of conceptual art.

Every conceptual artist since that date has worked within the art form that Duchamp launched with that urinal.

All art, all creativity, is a reaction against the status quo.

A desire to change things.

If there was no desire to change things, why would you bother?

Especially in our business.

Our business is all about changing things.

And we can’t change things unless we get attention.

And we have to do that by dominating our environment.

And we won’t do that by fitting in.

By being quiet and polite and nice and gentle.

By not upsetting anyone.

That’s why it’s our job to upset people.

To upset every competitor.

To dominate the environment so that we capture the attention everyone else is competing for.

In our field more than anywhere.

No one voluntarily pays to see our work.

In art galleries, or cinemas, or theatres, or DVDs or downloads.

No one turns on the TV or radio or laptop to look at what we do.

What’s nice for Duchamp or Picasso is essential for us.

People don’t carefully look at all the ads the way they carefully look at all the exhibits in an art gallery.

No one’s looking at us.

If we don’t want to rock the boat, we’re invisible.


And if we’re invisible, why would we bother?