Episode 50 – The Incredible Mind of Claude Shannon with Jimmy Soni & Mark Levinson


Our topic this week is Claude Shannon, a mathematician and engineer known as the Father of Information theory for his landmark paper “A Mathematical Theory of Communication”, which he published in 1948. Shannon’s seminal work and discoveries ushered in the digital age, and for that alone, his life is worthy of study, but Shannon also had this other remarkable quality to his life – a very playful and creative mind. Shannon was always curious, and he devoted his considerable intellect to a diverse range of activities and interests, that included juggling, unicycles, artificial intelligence, chess playing machines, wearable computers – he even built a chairlift on his property. He was both a mathematical and creative genius.

My guests today are Jimmy Soni and Mark Levinson.  Jimmy co-authored a biography of Shannon titled A Mind at Play and Mark directed a documentary about Shannon called The Bit Player which is available on Amazon Prime. In both of these works, Jimmy and Mark seek to explore the incredible mind of Claude Shannon. In this episode we seek to distill the secrets to Shannon’s creativity, and we talk about how we can apply these lessons to our own lives.

What You’ll Learn:

  • The importance of Information Theory and Shannon’s significant contribution to the digital computer and the information age
  • How Shannon relied on intuition as a guide when solving mathematical problems
  • How Shannon would take a complex problem, simplify it down to its essence, and then build it back up to uncover deep hidden truths that eluded his colleagues
  • How Shannon’s disregard for prestige and awards freed up his time and mind for creative work
  • How pursuing “trivial” and “whimsical” projects would often lead Shannon to profound insights
  •  How Shannon used creative dissatisfaction to drive innovation
  • How we can apply Shannon’s creative techniques to our own lives


A Mind at Play by Jimmy Soni & Rob Goodman

The Bit Player directed by Mark Levinson

11 Life Lessons from History’s Most Underrated Genius by Soni & Goodman

“A Mathematical Theory of Communication” by Claude Shannon

Connect with Jimmy Soni & Mark Levinson

LinkedIn for Jimmy: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jimmysoni/

LinkedIn for Mark: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mark-levinson-b400475/

Connect with Sean Murray

Email: seanm@realtimeperformance.com

Twitter: @seanpmurray111

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/seanpmurray/

Website: www.seanpmurray.net

Newsletter: https://www.realtimeperformance.com/newsletter/

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