A fresh-faced intern, let’s call him Tim, barged into a boardroom one day, absolutely beaming with confidence. He pitched what he called a “revolutionary” advertising concept. The only hiccup? It was almost a direct rip-off of that iconic Apple commercial. You know the one.

The room was eerily silent. Eyes darted between Tim’s hopeful face and mine, waiting for the impending explosion. But instead of lashing out, a bizarre thought crossed my mind: What if, instead of copying, Tim could morph that inspiration into something truly his own?

I decided to share this perspective. And that conversation? It didn’t just change Tim’s approach to creativity; it changed mine too. We delved into the essence of stealing ideas and how, if done right, it could be the secret sauce to a game-changing concept. Let’s take this journey together and unravel the true art of reimagining brilliance.

Breaking Down the Myth: “Originality”

Okay, friends. Let’s rip the band-aid off, shall we? There’s this mythical unicorn everyone seems to be chasing called “originality.” Some claim they’ve seen it, while most are still in the hunt. But here’s the damn truth: Pure, 100% unadulterated originality? It’s as rare as finding a leprechaun riding a T-Rex. Why? Let’s dive in.

If you believe your idea is a newborn, untouched by the worldly sins of plagiarism, chances are it’s still a descendant of some other idea. We’re all living in a massive echo chamber. From the tunes you jam to, to the fashion you rock, they’re all sprinkled with the essence of something from yesteryears.

Take a walk down memory lane. Remember the OG Nokia phones? Yeah, those bricks that could probably survive a nuclear apocalypse. Then came the era of touch screens and Siri talking back. But even the most advanced tech today is just an evolved version of those age-old inventions. There’s a lineage, a legacy. It’s like your Great Aunt Edna’s mac and cheese recipe; tweaked over time, with some extra cheese and less of that weird mystery ingredient.

Alright, brace yourself for some trivia that might rock your world.

  1. Facebook, the social media behemoth? Wasn’t it eerily similar to MySpace or, dare I say, Friendster?
  2. Ever heard of “QWERTY”? The keyboard layout? It’s been around since the 19th century. We’ve been typing away on the same design for over a century!
  3. That latest pop song you’ve been vibing to? I’d bet my left sock it samples or is inspired by some retro tune from the ’70s or ’80s. And if not, email me, and I’ll personally send you that sock (lightly worn, of course).

Bottom line: While some might mock or look down on anything that’s not “purely original,” the real magic often happens in the blending, the reimagining, the “stealing.” But wait – doesn’t stealing have a bad rep? Let’s break that down.

So, What’s the Deal with “Stealing” Anyway?

So you want to tap into the greats, get that killer idea, and slap your name on it. Hold up, chief. It’s not about jacking someone’s hard work and passing it off as your own. It’s about understanding, evolving, and then, presenting it with your own unique twist. Hell yeah, there’s an art to it!

Let’s get one thing straight: Copying is like using tracing paper on a Picasso and saying, “Look Ma, I painted!” Stealing, on the other hand, is absorbing multiple Picassos, Monets, and maybe a sprinkle of Banksy, then painting something that’s got traces of all, but is distinctly, undeniably YOU. Copying replicates; stealing metamorphoses.

Sounds like an oxymoron, right? But hang tight with me:

  1. Honoring vs. Degrading: Good theft pays homage. It’s like nodding at someone across the room, acknowledging their moves, then adding your own spin to the dance. Bad theft? That’s just doing the robot in a salsa club. Out of place and no respect.
  2. Studying vs. Skimming: Diving deep into what you’re “stealing” from allows you to truly understand its essence. Skimming the surface? That’s like saying you’re fluent in Italian because you can order pizza and gelato. Good theft studies the subject, then evolves it.
  3. Transforming vs. Mimicking: Mimicry is a parrot’s job, not yours. Steal, don’t replicate. If your “stolen” idea still looks, feels, and smells like the original, then, pal, you’ve got some more cooking to do.

Okay, here’s the tea. We’ve been “stealing” forever. Ever heard of Renaissance? Artists, writers, creators – they’ve been doing this dance for ages, borrowing from each other, from nature, from myths, from frickin’ dreams! But the dope ones, the ones we remember? They didn’t just lift; they levitated, took the idea higher, made it fly. That’s the art of it.

The Creative Blender: Mixing Ideas for Unique Output

Alright, here we are, riding the wave of inspiration. The creative process is pretty much like making a killer cocktail. You’ve got your classics, like the Old Fashioned or the Mojito. But then someone thought, “What if I put a twist on it?” Boom! An entirely new drink that still nods to its origins. That’s what we’re doing: mixing, blending, concocting.

Have you ever heard that saying, “Good artists copy, great artists steal”? Now, I’m not saying go all Ocean’s 11 on someone else’s ideas. Nah, we’re talking about the art of fusion, baby. Just like in cooking, where combining the right spices can take a dish from meh to magnificent, mixing various inspirations can lead to something utterly unique.

Remember the Walkman? Man, I rocked one of those in the ’90s. Cassette tapes, tangled earbuds, the whole shebang. Then came the Discman with its skip-free CD goodness. Enter Apple. They took that idea and said, “What if we make it smaller, no moving parts, and a helluva lot more songs?” iPod wasn’t the first MP3 player, but with a touch of Apple magic (and marketing), it transformed the game. It paid homage to its ancestors but also blazed its own damn trail.

Listen, trends are cool and all. They give you an idea of what’s hot right now. But remember, by the time something becomes a trend, a whole lot of people are already on it. If you just follow the herd, you’re gonna be lost in the crowd. Don’t be just another face in the sea of sameness. Zig when others zag. It’s all about having that maverick mindset. Like when everyone was going big, think of those who went minimalistic, or when the world zoned into VR, the smart ones also looked at enhancing the real-world experience.

Moral of the story? Inspiration’s all around. But don’t just take it – shake it, blend it, and then serve it up with a side of your own secret sauce.

Making “Stolen” Ideas Your Own

Diving into the sea of creativity can be overwhelming, right? But just splashing around won’t do; you need to immerse, feel the ebb and flow, and then come up with your own stroke. Yep, we’re still on that mixology metaphor, because it’s one hell of a vibe. Let’s talk about how to take a borrowed idea and make it scream, “Hell yeah, that’s ALL me!”

Before you can transform anything, you need to understand it—like, really understand it. It’s like buying one of those fancy gadgets. Don’t just look at the shiny exterior; open the bad boy up, see how it works, get a feel for its essence. Likewise, when you’re inspired by an idea, go beyond the surface. Delve into its history, understand the thought process behind it, and appreciate its intricacies.

B. The Three “R”s: Research, Reshape, and Reintroduce

  1. Research: Before reinventing the wheel, know what the wheel is made of. Dig into the background, context, and core of the idea you’re vibing with.
  2. Reshape: Once you’re filled up on all that knowledge juice, start playing around. Twist it, tweak it, turn it upside down. Approach the idea from various angles, and see which one feels just right.
  3. Reintroduce: Now, here’s where you bring your own flavor. Infuse your personality, your experiences, and your essence. When you put it back out into the world, it should feel familiar, but with a fresh, unmistakable touch of you.

C. Case in Point: Think of How Streetwear Transformed Luxury Fashion

Now, this is some real chameleon magic right here. Streetwear, with its roots in skater culture, hip-hop, and street sports, took basic stuff like tees and sneakers and gave it its own rebellious, “I-don’t-give-a-damn” edge. Fast forward a bit, and luxury brands are dropping streetwear collections with four-figure price tags. Why? ‘Cause streetwear peeps reshaped and reintroduced it with their own swagger. They didn’t just copy; they reinvented.

To sum it up, it’s cool to borrow, but don’t be a lazy bum about it. Dive in, play around, and put your stamp on it.

Addressing the Elephant in the Room: Ethics

Alright, kids, buckle up. We’re diving into the deep waters of ethics. Now, some of you might be thinking, “Come on, it’s just a bit of borrowing!” While others are on the fence, thinking, “Isn’t this kinda sketchy?” So, let’s break it down and see where the line gets fuzzy.

First off, let’s get one thing straight—there’s a world of difference between being inspired and straight-up copying. Think of it like this: Remember those dope platform shoes from the ’90s? Getting inspired means taking the platform concept and maybe mixing it with today’s sneaker trend. Copying? That’s just selling the same shoe with your logo slapped on it. Not cool, bro.

So you admire someone’s work. That’s chill. But where do you draw the line between admiration and imitation? Here’s a golden rule: If you can clearly see elements of the original in your “adapted” version, you’re not doing it right. If it takes a magnifying glass and three days of intense scrutiny to spot the resemblance, then maybe, just maybe, you’re on the right path.

Let’s play a game. Think about two songs that have a similar beat. One might’ve added a twist, some new instrumentals, and some killer lyrics, turning the tune into something entirely new. The other? It just swapped out a few words and hoped no one would notice. Which artist would you respect more?

The art of “stealing” creatively is delicate, and ethics always comes into play. Make sure you’re on the side of transformation, not duplication. Keep that moral compass pointing north and give credit where credit’s due. And remember, it’s not just about the legality, but also the integrity. Do right by you, and do right by those who’ve paved the way before you.

Common Misconceptions & Stereotypes (Yeah, we’re going there)

Ever hear the saying, “There’s nothing new under the sun”? It’s a bit dramatic, sure, but let’s not kid ourselves—many of our “revolutionary” ideas have ancestors. But, that doesn’t mean we’re all a bunch of copycats. Hell no! Time to squash some misconceptions and stereotypes that have been doing the rounds for way too long.

First off, let’s tackle this bad boy. Just because something sparks a déjà vu doesn’t mean it’s a rip-off. Look, there are limited colors in a palette, but that doesn’t mean every painting with blue and yellow is a “Starry Night” knockoff. It’s all about the execution, baby. The devil’s in the details, and that’s where the magic happens.

Alright, real talk? This one pisses me off. Here’s a newsflash: Every darn artist or entrepreneur out there, from legends like Picasso to your favorite indie band, has borrowed and built upon ideas. It’s the bedrock of creativity! It’s how we evolve as a species. We take, we learn, we build. That’s the friggin’ circle of life, my friend.

Ah, Picasso. The man once said, “Good artists copy, great artists steal.” But, before you take that as a free pass to plunder, understand the context. He wasn’t talking about photocopying. He was talking about internalizing ideas, then bringing them out in your style. And Shakespeare? Most of his stories weren’t original. Romeo and Juliet? Older than your grandma’s grandma. But Billy Shakes added his flavor, and voila, it’s a masterpiece.

Then there’s modern music. Heard a tune that screams ’80s, but it’s top of the charts today? That’s not copying. That’s a vibe. It’s a homage. It’s taking the essence and making it relevant for the Snapchat, TikTok generation.

So, next time you hear someone smack-talking about how “everything is just a copy,” school them a little. Drop some knowledge bombs. Because ignorance might be bliss, but enlightenment? That’s the real trip.

Building a Thief’s Toolkit: How to “Steal” the Right Way

Alright, hotshot, here’s the real deal. Taking inspiration is an art, but like all great heists, you need a plan, a strategy. We’re not talking about ski masks and blueprints. Nah, we’re crafting an intellectual toolkit, your guide to navigating the vast oceans of ideas without becoming a creative pirate.

Ever met those peeps who only listen to one genre of music or eat one type of cuisine? Don’t be that guy. Broaden your damn horizons! Dive into foreign films, pick up a book on medieval art, or binge-watch anime. Heck, even soap operas have a lesson or two. By exposing yourself to diverse cultures, industries, and mediums, you’re stocking your mental library. The broader your intake, the richer your output. So, get out there and be ravenous for knowledge. Feast on it!

Alright, I can hear the groans. “Journaling? Seriously?” Hell yeah, seriously! Carrying around a notebook or even just jotting down notes on your phone can be transformative. You stumble upon a cool graffiti design? Sketch or snap it. Overheard a funky conversation at the coffee shop? Note that down. These little sparks can ignite big-ass fires later on. Your future self will thank you when you’re hunting for a brilliant idea and you’ve got this goldmine to dig into.

Cross-pollination. That’s where the magic lies. You think mixing genres is only for music? Hell no! A software developer can learn tons from a ballet dancer about grace and precision. Or, a marketer might glean insights from a psychologist about human behavior. It’s all about finding the parallels. So, don’t box yourself in. Take a pottery class, attend a workshop on bird-watching, or learn the science behind brewing beer. When you merge the knowledge of different worlds, that’s when you birth true innovation.

See, “stealing” isn’t about taking. It’s about learning, absorbing, and recreating. It’s an ongoing journey, not a destination. You’re constantly evolving, just like the ideas you’re drawing from. So, keep your tools sharp, your mind sharper, and always be on the lookout for the next piece of brilliance you can make your own.


Let’s drop the mic for a sec and get real. We live in a world echoing with the whispers of the past, humming with the tunes of today, and tingling with the possibilities of tomorrow. We’ve danced through the concepts of originality, given side-eye to lazy copycats, and cheered for those who understand the art of cleverly remixing the old to spark the new.

Look, if we kept on banging rocks together expecting fire every single time, we’d still be chilling in caves, right? The world’s beauty lies in its change, its adaptability. And guess what? You’re a part of that world. The onus is on you, my friend, to push the boundaries, to question, to evolve. Not to repeat what’s been done, but to reimagine it, to bring in a fresh perspective that screams YOU.

Remember school? Some of us loved it, some of us… not so much. But here’s the thing: the world is your classroom. Every moment, every interaction is a chance to learn. Wear your curiosity like a badge of honor. You see, to ‘steal’ ideas isn’t about plagiarism. It’s about being open to the world around you, soaking in knowledge, and then churning out something that has your unique fingerprint on it.

Let’s end on a high note. Picture this: a DJ, lost in the music, expertly blending old beats with new, creating something that gets everyone on the dance floor. That DJ? That’s you. Your tools aren’t turntables, but a rich tapestry of experiences, insights, and inspirations. And your dance floor? The damn world, waiting for your next big hit.

In essence, every idea you come across is a note, waiting for its place in your symphony. The question is, how will you compose it? What legacy will you leave? Because, in the grand theatre of life, it’s not about the script you’re handed, but how you choose to perform it. So, go on, take a bow, and let the world revel in your reimagined brilliance.

About the Author: Geoffrey Byers
Geoffrey is one of the world's foremost Designers. He is also a Serial Entrepreneur, Author, Speaker, and Mad Scientist. Hypothesis-Driven experimentation is his love language.