Today I came across this little exercise from ‘Steal Like an Artist Journal’.
The exercise is simple – note down name of someone who influenced you, then write down their influences and so on.
I started with Steve Jobs and checked Wikipedia entries on people whom I knew influenced him.
My ignorance turned out to be immense. I knew Steve Jobs was influenced by the product design philosophy of Dieter Rams and computer science principles of Alan Kay, but I was quite wanting in knowledge of ideas influencing Rams and Kay themselves. Happy to look up more details on them.
This exercise helps you explore and I suggest you give it a try.