1. Cats or Dogs?
Dogs. Cats are terrible at fetch. Cats do not help you meet women. If you’re lucky, a cat will dane to use you as a scratching post when you get home, but that is only so you’ll feed it instead of shooting a laser pointer right off a cliff. In terms of affection, owning a cat is indistinguishable from owning a bird, slightly better than owning a fish, and vastly worse than owning a snake. I have plenty of good things to say about dogs, but negative ads win elections these days.
2. What’s the most marvelous thing you have ever seen with your own eyes?
This seems like a trap to get me in trouble with the HR department. Note to Ben: please don’t hire an HR department.
3. Have you ever seen insanity where you later saw creativity?
Does this mean ‘have you ever mistaken creativity for insanity?’ or ‘have you ever seen the intersection of insanity and creativity?’? I’m not sure if that second question mark there is necessary. It seems appropriate, but it looks stupid. Anyways, they probably mean the same thing. It’s called ‘creative’ if it solves a problem or makes someone money. It’s called ‘insane’ if it’s harmful, I guess. Have you ever looked at a child’s artwork? That’s probably the best example. A passenger airliner that has one wing and a propeller on the roof with a pilot who has no body, sitting atop the plane, which is flying below the height of the mountain that’s three feet away is pretty creative. If these schematics were brought to life, it’d be insanity.
4. How would you describe yourself in 5 words?
I would ask someone else
5. Why does pizza come in a square box?
Presumably for economic and space reasons. It’d probably be way harder to engineer a round box and they’d probably take a lot longer to fold. The guy making pizza already has enough to worry about without having to fold a round box. He’d probably have to like, cut a bunch of tiny triangles out of the sides of the box, then fold each up individually and glue the seams. Then he’s have to hold it in place for 10 minutes for the glue to hold, and bam. You just missed your 30 minute guarantee.
Other consideration: think of the guy cutting the pizza. Those big, empty triangular sections in the corner allow him to get a running start at the pie. Circular boxes are the road to pieces of crust that aren’t cut enough, so you end up losing all of your toppings trying to rip them apart. PLUS the square shape probably makes it much easier to evenly bisect the circle when cutting. Think about it. It’s way easier to cut from tangent to tangent or corner to corner than eyeballing a bunch of perfect diameters. I’ll attach a diagram to illustrate this problem. I wasn’t expecting to get this worked up over this question.
6. What is your biggest design inspiration?
From a visual standpoint, Saul Bass’s work on every front has always floored me, which is pretty cliche for a good reason. The interesting stuff in design comes outside of the visuals, and is, unfortunately, much harder to come by. You can’t really seek inspiration for it from anywhere. You just have to be exposed to a lot of things so you have the capacity to make unexpected connections. When the moment is right, will you be ready?
7. How does it feel to be photographed?
I never felt a thing.
8. What is the one thing you need to do next?
On a micro level, I need to clean this gross bowl of popcorn out. On a grander scale, I don’t really know and never have. I have never had very specific goals because they seem too prone to failure, and if I had tried to map out a trajectory of my career and follow it, I’d probably would never have even sniffed an opportunity like I have at Top Hat. I’m just trying to always be improving and broadening what I can offer to people on a personal and professional level. I have no idea where it will lead me, but the ‘system over goals’ approach hasn’t failed me yet.
9. What are you thankful for, this moment?
Way too many things to enumerate. Without being glib on this one, I have a very rewarding and challenging job where I Feel appreciated. I have better health than my diet and exercise level should dictate. I have always been surrounded by outrageously positive influences, and I get to be a racecar driver on the side. What’s there to complain about?
10. What in your life exhilarates you? Do you do enough of it?
Certainly driving racecars exhilarates me. I probably do that enough, but I’d love to try some new kinds of vehicles. Going unfamiliar places on a whim does as well, and I certainly don’t do enough of that.
11. What’s your single greatest moment of personal failure? Looking back on it now, did it make you weaker or stronger? What did you learn?
Theres’ probably an obvious answer out there, but I tend not to dwell on things enough to engrave it in my mind. I feel like karma catches up to me pretty quickly, even though I make fun of people who say things like that. I feel like I was pretty impacted from getting caught stealing little action figures from my dentists’ office when I was four or five and feeling pretty ridiculous trying to come up with an explanation. That sounds stupid, but the trade-off of the humiliation for the gain. It must have stuck with me, since I still remember it. Honorable mention to the time I gave myself a concussion by running straight into a gigantic concrete pillar playing monkey in the middle in a church basement.
12. Joy is found with simple awareness. What does your joy look like today?
My joy is really in the rare chances to bond with people over some drinks, share stories, and appreciate what’s going on in each other’s lives. It’s way too easy to think whatever you’re working on right now is the beginning and end of the world. I think that’s because, in a lot of ways, it has to be for some period of time if it’s going to be worth while. It’s just equally important to remember to come up for air every now and then.
13. What is the theme song to your day to day life?
‘Ha ha’ by Mates of State. It’s been one of my favorites since I was about twelve. It’s just pure, erratic, infectious bliss.
14. What is the world ready to discover, accept or embrace now?
Stateless societies in the middle of the ocean. Seriously. Google ‘seasteading’. It’s kind of cool.
15. Do you think sand is called sand because it’s between sea and land?
Well, Google says it comes from the Dutch word, ‘zand’, so high marks on creativity there, England. The Dutch word for ‘sea’ is ‘zee’, and the Dutch word for ‘land’ is still ‘land’, so this theory holds up in terms of etymology. Furthermore, it seems fairly likely that the Dutch would have encountered sand at a beach before a desert, since a Google search for “Deserts in Holland” prompts a listing of like a million recipes for Dutch desserts and no deserts. So, it holds up on that front, as well. Given the sum of the evidence, I’m going to say, ‘probably not.’
16. When was the last time you lost track of time?
When I was answering this question about sand.
17. If you woke up tomorrow as an animal, what would you be?
Probably a cat, for reasons enumerated above.
18. If you were guaranteed the correct answer to one question, what would you ask?
What’s the world’s greatest pickup line?
19. Where is your happy place?
Anywhere that I’m exhausted, surrounded by friends, and two drinks in.
20. What made you choose Top Hat?
A place with good people where creative solutions are embraced and where the philosophy is ‘do good work and the money will take care of itself.’ Is very hard to find. I feel very blessed to come on board when I did and to see the very early fruits of our labor since coming on board at the start of the year.