33 Questions For Reading Your Creative DNA

Daniel Hangan
8 min readMar 20, 2020


From the book “The Creative Habit” by Twyla Tharp

So I am reading this book “The Creative Habit: Learn it and use it for life” by Twyla Tharp. Its an old book but is the first time I am reading and I find many interesting things to think about and meditate about.

Starting with a nice quote of her.

“I read for growth, firmly believing that what you are today and what you will be in five years depends on two things: the people you meet and the books you read.”

Every chapter of the book ends up with an exercise. One of the first chapters of the book is called “your creative DNA” and can be summarised into one sentence.

If you want to unleash your creative DNA answer these 33 questions.

She did it in the book as well. I am not gonna share it here. You can grab the book yourself and read them. However, I will be sharing my answers as a guide for you in case you don’t understand the questions or need an example.

In my opinion, this is a must to do exercise for people looking to discover or rediscover their inner selves and take a step into understanding where they are coming from and where are they going.

Writing the answers down and looking at them made me understand what I was passionate about, who I am now and where I want to be in the future.

Questions (and my personal answers)

What is the first creative moment you remember?

As a kid, I got presents such as puzzles and legos for my birthday. I loved to spend hours putting them together. I was building something with no clue on what I need to do, all I had was a picture in my head. Everything else was trial and error.

Was anyone there to witness or appreciate it?

I was always accompanied by my brother which is 1 year older than me. He was definitely more of a thinker. All the moves he made were thought in advance. Whereas I was just trying everything and see what sticks.

What is the best idea you’ve ever had?

Stop following other people’s expectations of me. Deeply understand what I am and who I want to be in life. The quote I started to live by, “you can do anything but you can’t do everything” — Ray Dalio

What made it great in your mind?

I don’t know honestly. I just felt that for the first time I am happy. Only thinking about this, made me happy. I was visualizing a world where I have just enough money to buy essential stuff plus some middle-class luxuries (a car, a house), always be healthy and feel good in my own body. Have a challenging work that I love and appreciate.

What is the dumbest idea you ever had?

Thinking making a lot of money is my life purpose.

What made it stupid?

Once, I was at a birthday dinner with one of my friends. We were accompanied by his landlord at the table. He was very nice and smart. He was 50 years old. He seemed to be very happy and wise. At that time I was working at an Investment Bank trying to become a Trader in the Global Markets department. As I told him this is my goal, who I want to be. — I was very passionate about making a lot of money (this is what I told him). In response, he asked me — What value do you provide to the world? How are you making this world a better place? … That made me thinking.

Can you connect the dots that led you to this idea?

I guess I was in middle school when my teacher told us that math is money. This path led me to study finance because it's a numbers game, and I was good at it. In finance, the most prestigious job you can have in 2015 was to go to an Investment Bank. My teachers told me that, my parents, and my friends which were following the same path. I felt weird trying to do something different. Finance was all about money. Who makes more money? who has a fatter paycheck? The grand goal was to make more money and be fancy.

What is your creative ambition?

To constantly explore new things. Try stuff I am not good at. Feel comfortable with being uncomfortable and getting through the initial learning struggles. Life is a journey.

What are the obstacles to this ambition?

Fear of failure and being embarrassed in front of others (friends, colleagues). Also time constraints. I have to make money but also to progress in life. Another one would be the fear “I am not good at this” or “I was not made for this”

What are the vital steps to achieving this ambition?

Being organized and making it happen. Don’t think about the difficulties but get up at 6 am and put in the reps. I dumped writing for 2 months and I felt like shit. I couldn’t motivate myself to do it. Then when I just sat down and wrote anything on the paper it makes it much easier. I just had to put 1 word down at a time.

How do you begin your day?

I wake up at 6 am, drink a glass of water, do sports for 45 minutes. Make a coffee and write for 45 minutes. Read a book for 45 minutes. And 30 minutes to take a shower and get ready to leave the house to go to the office.

Describe your first successful creative act.

I can’t really remember anything from my childhood when it comes to creativity. But I remember in my first year of University I was passionate about trading and investing. Together with a colleague, we decided to start the first trading and investment society where people gather together and talk about investing. We did stock pitches, M&A debates, trading competitions and many other group activities which were fun. I always had to come up with new activity ideas for the next week. I presented my ideas to the board every Friday before the meeting with the club on Monday. I felt creative at that time.

Describe your second successful creative act.

So my second creative act was 1 year ago when I joined my current company Blockdata and had to manage and lead a market trend report about blockchain remittance and cross-border payments.

Compare them.

Oh really. The first one was related to finance, trading and investments. The second one was after I chose to not focus my career in finance but try to find what I love. I was following what I currently am good at (Data Analytics). Both of this act came as a result of my courage to act.

What are your attitudes towards?


I don’t want to live a super high life. But I also want to afford basic medicine good food and 2 times vacation in a year. Working now towards building more income.


There is good power and bad power. Good power is the one which you gain through helping people and empowering them to become a better version of themselves. And there is bad power were you abuse your position to gain control over somebody.


I really don’t know this one.


I feel good about the work I do and the people I work with at the moment.


Amsterdam life never disappoints.

Which artists do you admire most?

Stephen King. FKJ. Sally Rooney. — Writers (Stephen King, Sally Rooney.) Music (FKJ, Gioli & Assia)

Why are they role models.

Because of the way they make me feel when I read their books or listen to them.

What do you and your role models have in common?

We like to read and write. We like stories. We both understand that humans are storytelling animals and we learn and live through stories. The musician — we like house/techno music combined with instrumental.

Does anyone in your life regularly inspire you?

Probably Jay Shetty. His podcast “On Purpose” I listen to him every day on the way to work. He has some of the most inspirational stories that help me grow personally.

Who is your muse?

People on the streets. My friends. Youtube. Podcasts. Books.

Define Muse.

Inspiration to go forward and grow.

When confronted with superior intelligence or talent, how do you respond?

I take a more investigative approach, in the beginning, to see if the person next to me is really smart. If it is I then look for ways to either learn from him, keep in touch, become friends or see how we can work together on something.

When faced with stupidity, hostility, intransigence, laziness, or indifference in others, how do you respond?

Well, let's say “Not very well”. Working on this at the moment.

When faced with impending success or the threat of failure, how do you respond?

Success: Gratitude, confidence

Failure: Anxiety, focus, work.

When you work, do you love the process or the result?

Let's talk about my daily job which is Research and Data analysis. I honestly love the process and the result at the same time. In the process of researching blockchain companies, I stumble on many projects that I look for hours. I imagine myself starting a similar company and what I would have done differently. At the same time I am thinking. Do I have somebody that can execute on this idea? I think it will make a great project.

The result is okay. The only problem is usually not attributed only to me. But to the team. So we celebrate together. Which is cheerful. I guess if I celebrated alone it wouldn’t make it such a great success.

At what moments do you feel your reach exceeds your grasp?

When I find momentum and start wanting too much.

What is your ideal creative activity?

Right now is writing, photography, and designing data storytelling slides. Analysing data can also be a very creative process sometimes.

What is your greatest fear?


What is the likelihood of either of the answers to the previous two questions happening?

There are almost 8 billion people in this world, how can you be alone? Plus if you are a good person, will you ever be alone? I now understand I can have creativity wherever I go during the day.

Which of your answers would you most like to change?

29 You will never be alone. I feel this fear is in my head rather than in reality.

What is your idea of mastery?

Become the best version of yourself. Be healthy mentally and externally (body), have good relationships with your family and friends. Have a second half. Have a family. A well sustaining monthly income. Challenges, fights and happiness.

You shall get what you give. The good you put out into the world will return to you in an abundance.

What is your greatest dream?

Have an impact on many people and make history.