Author Interview: Seth Goldenberg
Interview: Seth Goldenberg
Seth Goldenberg is a designer, activist, and social entrepreneur who harnesses the power of questioning to catalyze innovation and cultural change. He is the founder and CEO of Curiosity & Co., and his work has been featured in The New York Times, Wired, and Fast Company. His new book, Radical Curiosity: Questioning Commonly Held Beliefs to Imagine Flourishing Futures (Amazon, Bookshop) hit shelves this week.
I couldn't wait to talk to Seth well-nigh happiness, habits, and creativity.
Gretchen: What’s a simple worriedness or habit that unceasingly makes you happier, healthier, increasingly productive, or increasingly creative?
Seth: Drawing. I began my path as an artist, exhibiting my paintings in galleries by the age of eleven. Drawing was a way of seeing, of listening and making sense of the world. In my youth drawing became a ritual as inside as breathing. In fact, in a installment tabbed “May We Never Grow Up” I describe drawing as a ritual for creative wandering and thinking. Today I use drawing as a visual language to develop new ideas, find ways to communicate mental models and experiment with strategies for change. Drawing never ceases to requite me a ritualistic pleasure as an versifier and an entrepreneur.
What’s something you know now well-nigh happiness that you didn’t know when you were 18 years old?
When I was 18 years old I was peekaboo the Rhode Island School of Design. A creative education there felt surprisingly isolating. The Bauhaus model of making was private and production oriented. I now know well-nigh myself that I am lit up by collaborating with others. A social connectedness with an ensemble team is where I thrive. And increasingly than this, I finger fulfilled by a sense of purpose. I finger a deep responsibility to meaningfully contribute to the world. I find personal happiness cooperatively working with others on thorny, wicked challenges, that have a shot at making no-go contributions to societal society.
You’ve washed-up fascinating research. What has surprised or intrigued you – or your readers – most?
I don’t practice wonk or traditional research. But I view the practice of Radical Curiosity as itself a lifestyle of zippy research. I like to think well-nigh research as the pursuit of new knowledge or the megacosm of new wisdom. To self-mastery breakthroughs, we need to question everything. Likely in ways that will make us uncomfortable. When things have gotten this wobbly in the world it’s time to question the very roots of our assumptions. This can upend cadre beliefs and rencontre our very values. Radical Curiosity codifies how I and my diamond studio have made a life of questioning. What has surprised me is how rare radical questioning is amongst leaders, wideness every industry. It is what has compelled me to write the book.
Would you describe yourself as an Upholder, a Questioner, a Rebel, or an Obliger?
I took the quiz and the result was an Obliger. I would have envisioned some hybrid wideness Questioner (just sayin’), a Rebel (as my work is to upend models as a kind of activist) – but I moreover understand that there is a difference between how I see my work and its objectives versus my tendencies in behavior, as a leader in daily practice. I am tightly social and superintendency for people, champion them, and fall intellectually in love with their stories. Obliger likely rises to the top as a social-emotional intelligence representing my superintendency for others whilom all else. A welter to go through the wits of the quiz, thank you!
Does anything tend to interfere with your worthiness to alimony your healthy habits or your happiness?
As an entrepreneur who founded a ramified business, my day is never done. The tasks are non-linear and diverse. Often my life is unpredictable, moving wideness an no-go range of activities from mentoring a team member to balancing a upkeep to envisioning new models for public health for tens of millions wideness dozens of countries to collaboratively inventing a new transformative travel startup venture – all in the same day. Oddly, this kind of life nourishes me and keeps me in a kind of spritz as a thinker and creative problem solver in ways I cherish but may moreover come at a forfeit of healthy habits. It begs the question – what is a healthy habit? I wonder how we might redefine the relationship between healthy habits and happiness? This is likely some of the thesis of your work, which is inspiring. I likely have habits that I might not plane identify as habits that bring me health or happiness. Maybe, for me, urgently identifying habits that yield happiness is itself a kind of diamond project. Like the visualization to fill my studio with unexceptionable pink cards to ideate on as we push pin concepts on the wall brings me deep joy – excavating this as a habitual policies to understand why it yields pleasure might help me know what “interferes” vs “accelerates” my interpretation of health.
Have you overly been hit by a lightning bolt, where you made a major transpiration very suddenly, as a magnitude of reading a book, a conversation with a friend, a milestone birthday, a health scare, etc.?
Yes! I have recently been diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes discovered as the result of a hospitalization. It was a big health scare. I am figuring out how to own the diagnosis, understand the sources of this condition for me specifically, and squint at ways to transpiration my lifestyle. In particular I have zeroed in on food. Seeking out a kind of supplies literacy that can inform how I move forward. Ironically, supplies is a big part of my life. I think it is and can be plane increasingly inside to all of our lives. My studio has zingy supplies as ways to bring communities together, construct social cohesion to take on increasingly than we could alone, and to heighten a multi-sensory wits as a triumph of aliveness. My lightning vendibles has led to exploring the minutiae of a new merchantry focused on supplies that retains that aliveness but does so in service to health. It’s a grand experiment, and I am learning so much withal the way. And finding that many vastitude me seek supplies security, supplies literacy, and supplies as a cultural tradition that celebrates life.
Is there a particular motto or saying that you’ve found very helpful?
Slow lanugo in order to speed up.
Has a typesetting overly reverted your life – if so, which one and why?
Artists monographs, highly visual collections of the persons of work of prolific artists such as Egon Schiele, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Julie Mehretu have reverted my life. The combination of the visual storytelling and cultural context is composite combination that has propelled my work and my imagination. I think the essence of their impact could be boiled lanugo to permission. These books were treasures for me growing up in a mostly removed, rural, pre-internet reality where they tapped untied the inherited languages that I unsupportable were the only ones I could speak through. They gave me permission to find my own pure unorganized voice that I was not seeing virtually me.
In your field, is there a worldwide misconception that you’d like to correct?
My work is often misunderstood in the space of Diamond Thinking. Which is a practice I have unconfined respect for and do infringe from. Certainly, my time as a leader at Bruce Mau Design, often considered one of the godfathers of the field, helps condition my appreciation for this space. But I’ve moreover been a critic of the limits of diamond thinking. I believe that the challenges we squatter today are wildly complex, entangled, integrated, and tightly imprinted into culture.
Radical Curiosity (Amazon, Bookshop) is an opportunity for me to both show my deep appreciation of many disciplines, practices, mental models, and professions – as well as rencontre and create a new lexicon for how to remix and tousle ways of working that are towardly for the moment we are in.
As Audre Lorde says: There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle considering we do not live single-issue lives.
Author photo credit: Stephanie Alvarez Ewens