As an IDEO partner and one of five senior executives, Paul works with clients, partners, and colleagues to bring to market human-centric, commercially successful, and socially significant new businesses, products, services, and experiences. He is responsible for content excellence across IDEO, and is active in developing and publishing new thinking in the field of human-centered and design-led innovation.
What was your pivot point?
My dad bought me a set of craft magazines when I was 10, called The Golden Hands Encyclopedia of Crafts. I made everything from macramé to tie dye, from clay beads to dream catchers. It not only gave me my creative start in life, but more importantly, it gave me my confidence as a creative person. Now I work for a place that talks about unlocking people's Creative Confidence, and I speak from the heart when I do, because it was me.
Photo: This is my own work. I still love weaving to this day.
What advice would you give someone going through their own transformation?
Travel, ideally WAY out of your comfort zone. Go off the grid, with minimal fuss. I just came back from Congo, and nothing prepared me for what I saw and felt there. Travel is in itself transformative.
Photo: This was my Congo #squad
If you could do anything in the world, what would you do next?
Be the Creative Director of a country.
Photo: This is a water-purification station that is part of a system we designed that includes health clinics, water stations and agricultural processes in eastern Congo.
What do you take back from your travels?
I buy local craft wherever I travel.
Photo: This is Rwandan Imigongo. Made from cow dung and ash, Imigongo was almost lost as a tradition during the Rwandan genocide in 1994. But a women's cooperative near Kirehe has rescued and revived this uniquely Rwandan art form.
Are you following the path of a trailblazer or being guided by a mentor?
I think trailblazer. I don't have a formal mentor per se, but the 700 people I work with around the world blow my mind and mentor me in doing so.
Photo: This is our pool in Montauk. We recently painted the entire house black and have renamed it #montaukdeathstar
All images used with permission of Paul Bennett.