Malcolm Gladwell: “Quit Your Job”

Written by in Events

And other insights from the Day 1 of HOW Design Live.

(Reported by Bennett Holzworth) There was a good deal of diversity in the first day of HOW Design Live. I experienced everything from technical training to inspirational advice and had second row seats to one of my favorite authors, Malcolm Gladwell. I also attended great sessions by Chris Converse, Danny Gregory and Paola Antonelli.


Just sitting in a room with thousands of other designers is a pretty empowering experience. But again, the highlight for me was seeing Malcolm Gladwell on stage with DeeDee Gordon. I have grown used to his voice from radio interviews and his audio books, and he did not disappoint. He was engaging, entertaining and always insightful. Even the moments when I was questioning the conclusions he came to, I still came away looking at things from a new perspective. Gladwell said that designers and journalists (like himself) capitalize on curiosity and rebalance ideas.

While I like the idea of being similar to Gladwell, at times I think he shares more in common with a stand-up comedian. The way a good comedian can make you look at things you experience everyday and make them seem completely ridiculous. Malcolm’s advantage over comedians is his varied references and sources. If you’re a HOW Design attendee or you know one, just ask them to share Malcolm’s take on the TSA. He has some great material.


In an answer to an audience member’s question, Gladwell did say if we wanted to be more curious, like him, we would have to quit our jobs. Of course he was just kidding, but I think it is a good reminder to leave room in our lives to looks at things from a different perspective. To not assume that the way things are, are the way things need to be.

If there was one common thread in the four sessions I went to today, it would be the following: We need to challenge assumptions and perspectives and not just take what is handed to us.

Now to get some sleep for day two.

Bennett Holzworth
“Designer and Letterpress Enthusiast”

p.s. How much water did they think Malcolm would drink? We have discovered his source of power: Hydraulics.

  1. 05
    Matt Porter said:

    Nice reporting, Bennett. What a great start to the conference. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and the perspectives of Mr. Gladwell.

  2. 05

    […] I guess it also becomes evident in the fact that the opening speaker is a day and a half into the conference itself. If you haven’t yet caught up, Bennett Holzworth is also reporting from the conference on Against the Grain, and has already written a behind the scenes from volunteering this weekend, as well as a great recap on some day one speakers. […]