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Episode 3: You’re not original and that’s okay, it’s hip to be square

Hi, my name is Amanda Cunningham and you’re reading the show notes to the Bare Minimum Babe podcast! The Bare Minimum Babe is an anti-hustle, chill TF out movement, prompting the question always “What if this was easy?” Whatever that “this” you’re talking about. Whether it’s starting a new workout plan, launching a podcast ahem, redoing your website, making that call to your friend you need to have an uncomfortable convo with, or feeling like you’re always behind when you're looking at others' Insta and Facebook vacay photos or opportunities others get at work.


In this episode, we’re talking about the issue of how everyone wants to be "original." And nobody wants to be like anyone else. Except...don’t pretty much most people have that thought? Most people don't walk around thinking "hmmm I want to be just like the masses."

There's a problem though, NObody is an original, not even Beyonce.

And that’s okay. 👍


You can create an “original” idea but honestly, that idea is built on lots of other ideas.


For example, the idea for the iPad seemed super original when it was launched by Apple in 2010 but it was built on the computer and the calculator, and the iPod before it, along with so many other things in mind to guide it. And to make the iPad work they had to have certain microchips and knowledge that was built from other things. And then those microprocessors were built from other ideas and you also had to have electricity to run them. So you’ve got Michael Faraday who invented an electric motor in 1821 and people like Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla doing work in the 1800s with electricity then of course before that Benjamin Franklin “discovered” electricity. But he didn't "discover" electricity...he realized it could be harnessed. Big difference.


The history of electricity aside⚡️, that idea from Steve Jobs and everyone else at Apple wasn’t that original. They were just mashing together other ideas and things that came before them to create something new.


Just like Thomas Edison didn't randomly wake up one day and think I'm going to create a glass bulb that has things called filaments and that sh*t is going to glow light during the dark hours. Nah, he was like "I have a problem— it’s dark at night and candles suck. I want daylight at night. how do I solve this problem?" 💡


Then he went to all the previous knowledge and research and tools from others before him and his peers, like Nikola Tesla, and failed thousands of times before the lightbulb happened.


Nobody is an original, not even Beyonce.

This is not a tale of sticking it out and never giving up. The point of that story was to show that not even a famous inventor who literally INVENTED things for most of his life was NOT original. He simply created new versions of old solutions.


Listen to any song, watch a show or movie, look at art, buildings, your coffee cup, etc., and you can trace that thing back to 100s of influences that came before it.


A few quotes on stealing validation:

  • “Art is theft.” – Pablo Picasso

  • “The only art I’ll ever study is stuff that I can steal from.” – David Bowie

  • My hobbie (one of them anyway)…is using a lot of scotch tape… My hobbie is to pick out different things during what I read and piece them together and make a little story of my own.” —Louis Armstrong

  • “all ideas are second-hand, consciously and unconsciously drawn from a million outside sources, and daily use by the garnerer with a pride and satisfaction born of the superstition that he originated them; whereas there is not a rag of originality about them anywhere except the little discoloration they get from his mental and moral calibre and his temperament, and which is revealed in characteristics of phrasing.” - Mark Twain

  • “What is originality? Undetected plagiarism.” – William Ralph Inge (priest and author, He was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature three times.)

  • “If you steal from one author, it’s plagiarism; if you steal from many, it’s research.”- Wilson Mizner (American playwright)


Quotes from dead men aside, how does this apply to you practically?


Stealing on Purpose 🏴‍☠️


Well, you can start by stealing from others subconsciously to turning it into a conscious effort and acknowledging that you do it. Everyone does it, they just might not realize it. OR if they realize it, they don't give credit where credit is due.


The issue isn’t taking from others— it’s not giving them the credit that’s due.

For example, I never start from a blank slate. Even the logo for Bare Minimum Babe was based on a Canva pre-made logo and my research on other podcast logos that I liked. I searched "logos" in their templates section and picked out a few that I thought could be the vibe I wanted and then mishmashed things together, colors, graphics, fonts, etc. until there was something new that wasn't there before.


Curent BMB logo:

Where the inspiration came from (Canva template):

For reference, when getting my bachelor's degree, the main thing I learned as a history major was to basically read an F ton (research) and then compile the things you like/are true from other successful sources and blend them all to form your own thesis.

For the logo that's exactly what I did. I looked up obvious places to find logos, other companies, podcasts, and graphic design resources (like Canva) And created something "uniquely" mine.


Read the book “Steal like an artist” by Austin Kleon, it's fabulous. It touches on all of this in a clear way.


This stealing is valid for every career and facet of life


You never start from scratch and make something “original” EVER. You’re always building off something, even subconsciously.


The Problem? ❌


The issue is giving credit where credit is due.

Going back to my history degree. As I was researching and copying and pasting quotes, was taught to ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS cite my sources✏️. ALWAYS


Meaning you need to say exactly which author, in which book, on which page, and what year you got this information from EVEN if it was not a direct quote. Even if you’re paraphrasing you need to put in a little footnote on that paragraph and tell the reader exactly where you got that idea. So the reader can go directly to that book and see exactly what you were talking about and learn more.

So really the issue isn’t taking from others— it’s not giving them the credit that’s due.


Even stories that seem original like “Harry Potter” or “The Lord of the Rings...” they’re not. It's all retellings of the hero's journey. Like the ancient longggg poem “Beowulf” from 700-1000AD or “the Odessey” in the 8th century BC, and many more like it.

It’s just new variations of the same characters, variations of the same problems but with some new technology.


Moral of the Story 🧙🏻


You just need to put your own spin on stuff regardless of what you do, whether that’s making a sales report for work or creating a new piece of music.

Never start from scratch, Google some sales report templates, gather a bunch of references you want your song to blend in with if it was on a playlist with these songs, etc.


As much as you want to be new and different, you’re just not. If everyone is special then nobody is special…it’s just a fact.

So instead of denying this and fighting against it 🥊, be conscious and proactive with your stealing. Search up your references more intensively, grab their color schemes, their words, whatever you're trying to build on, and mash all of these people and their work together and then put your own lil something on it, and voila! you have something new.


You are not original, nor do you need to be. You can learn so much from others. Take it and use what you can.


BUT always, always, always reference who you're getting the ideas from because if you take full credit like the lords just bestowed it upon you...you're lying or in serious denial.


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