New York Times bestselling author Kevin Kwan has spoken out about the importance of creativity in the workplace – and how his experiences in life played a huge part in his success.
Kwan’s debut novel Crazy Rich Asians, which is loosely based in his own childhood in Singapore, was published in 2013. A film adaptation was released in 2018 and became the highest-grossing romantic comedy of the last decade.
“Never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine something like this could ever happen to me. And to a book I’d written that I never intended anyone else to see. But I am so so grateful and this is what I’ve learned,” he said, speaking at the Indeed Interactive conference in Austin, Texas.
“No matter who you are and what you do, I just want you to know that there is this powerful creative force in all of us,” he said.
“Each and every one of you has this creative seed which is uniquely yours – it’s totally original and nobody can replicate it. It’s in your DNA, in your lineage, and it comes from every experience you’ve had.
“If you’re willing to dig deep, and go down into that place in you that’s most personal, vulnerable and authentically you, you will find your own truth. And that truth is your creative power. And once you unleash that power and apply that to whatever you want – whether it’s your career, or personal passion of yours, you will see how transformative your creativity can be.”
Creativity has been recognised by many global companies as a business asset which fuels big ideas, challenges the ways employees think and opens the door to new business opportunities.
Research suggests companies that foster creativity are 3.5 times more likely to outperform their peers in revenue growth. It also shows that allowing employees to be themselves fosters a creative environment, as those who feel comfortable at work are more open to sharing ideas and opinions.
However, a recent Gallup survey of more than 16,500 employees shows that factors needed to foster creativity in the workplace are rare – including the time to be creative and the freedom to take the risks necessary to be creative.
“Doing something creative for yourself is one of the most healing things in the world you could possibly do,” Kwan added. “For me, it was unleashing my true creative power and going on this long journey, and there were no easy shortcuts. There was no way I could have written Crazy Rich Asians when I was fresh out of college age 21.
“I had to move to New York, go to art school, go through all the ups and downs of my career, pay my dues, pay my rent, get into debt, get my heart broken, almost give up so many times – and lose some of the dearest people I loved, in order to write the book that I did.
“Because Crazy Rich Asians wasn’t just about my childhood or my experiences in Asia. What made it work – and what connects it to readers and fans – is that it contains elements from my entire life and all my experiences.”
Kwan’s bestselling novel was followed by two sequels, China Rich Girlfriend in 2015 and Rich People Problems in 2017.
Last year, Kwan was listed as one of the 100 most influential people by Time magazine. He was also inducted into The Asian Hall of Fame, a project launched by the Robert Chinn Foundation.