does your schtick have a good creation myth? if not, maybe it needs one?

1. Silicon Valley was born in 1939, when Messieurs Hewlett & Packard started their company in a small garage in Paulo Alto.

2. In his book, “Delivering Happiness”, Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh speaks of  in great length about “The Loft”, a place where all his friends used to hang out and party, and how this sense of “meaningful gathering” went on to inform the core values of his now-famous shoe company.

3. A very dated-looking photograph from 1978. Eleven young, goofy-looking techies. They turn out to be the founding members of Microsoft, including Bill Gates.

4. Michael Dell founding his computer empire in his dorm room at the University of Texas.

5. Ben & Jerry’s started making ice cream in a converted gas station in Vermont.

6. The business guru, Tom Peters often writes about how his time as a young man serving in the US Navy helped evolve his now-famous worldview.

7. Rock star physicists, Brian Cox talks passionately about the Big Bang Theory.

8. How a despondent, burned-out, second-rate advertising copywriter FINALLY got his groove when he started drawing cartoons on the back of business cards.

9. The Beatles playing those early gigs at The Cavern Club in Liverpool.

10. The famous tech blogger, Robert Scoble talking about his job working in a discount camera store, back when he was a kid.

11. How a bunch of young, angry social misfits start a small nightclub, the Cabaret Voltaire, in 1916 Zurich [at the height of World War One] and in the process invent Dada, one of the 20th Century’s most influential art movements.

12. Abe Lincoln was born in a log cabin.

So… What do these all have in common?

They’re all Creation Myths. That’s right; just like The Garden of Eden.

We humans seem to need them, somehow. They manage to articulate who we really are, somehow. The help explain our core values, somehow.

And for whatever reason, REALLY successful people are even more likely to have them, even more likely to need them, somehow.

Does your schtick have a good creation myth? If not, maybe it needs one?

Think about it.


  1. Nice job pointing out the common denominators of success. I too find myself helplessly addicted to creation myths – great post!

  2. I think Randy has a point here. How is it possible to sustain the original “spark” once success is here? By remembering the past over and over again? How can we move forward like that?
    Hugh, you’re now successful. What’s your take on that?

  3. Jean-Remy,

    Hmmm…. I think for life to remain interesting and magical over the long term (including into our old age), we somehow need to be able to re-invent ourselves, again and again.

    And I suppose to do this, we somehow need to be have new creation myths to tell ourselves.

    I’m just thinking outloud, here 😀

    • Re-invention – and you’re proof of it! Reinvention myths abound, too, Phoenix rising from the ashes; Samson’s hair regrowing for new strength; fading, burned out copywriters emerging with a new schtick.

      Half or more of your list (all?) are both creation AND reinvention “myths”!

  4. I’ve been doggedly boiling my own story (as a musician) down to it’s central creation myth. Was up late lastnight illustrating it with some simple drawings(inspired by my buddy Austin Kleon and yourself):

    So I was happy to find this post of yours this morning and thought you might like to know how much I appreciate your stuff. It’s keeping me up late passionately doodling.

    Thanks Hugh, j

  5. Hugh,

    I think creation myths do exactly what you say needs to happen. They include space for re-invention.

    I love teaching high school students myths, but I don’t want to get too academic here. Anyway, it seems to me that creation myths always have an element of repetition. For example, in the Greek story, Zeus took over from Cronus who took over from Uranus who took over from Gaea. Almost every creation story I can think of has a couple of versions and has some disaster that produces a new start.

  6. […] does your schtick have a good creation myth? if not, maybe it needs one? | gapingvoid (tags: myths mythology stories) […]

  7. Hugh,

    Do you think that the myths needs to be true? Or based on truth?

    Or could they survive as pure myths? As aspects of fantasy, fiction and dreaming?

    I feel that if I built a “creation myth”, people want them based in truth. But I guess, the question is, how much truth do you recommend?

    – Christian

  8. Great post and thoughts on creation myths. Picking up from some of the discussion, even when your story reaches that “creation myth” point, it still continues… plots unfold, characters are introduced, etc. Tom Peters story did not stop after In Search of Excellence; it just got better.

    Anyway, really like the creation myth concept. It resonates!

  9. Spot-on. It connects the past to the future and brings the business/the idea closer to that first spark.

    Today I was typing out one of mine – what inspired the artists residency program I’ve founded in Sicily (a Christian brother taking me on as a sculpture apprentice in Italy 10 years ago).