Michael Wolff: Never Stop Asking "Why?"

About this presentation

We won’t remember the commercial, the logo, or the jingle, but we will always remember how a brand (and in turn, a designer) makes us feel. In this 99U interview, legendary designer Michael Wolff shares lessons from a career spanning over five decades. 

What separates a good designer from the rest of the pack, says Wolff, is an unlimited amount of empathy. To do this, approach the world through a child’s mind and have an insatiable curiosity. Ask “why” whenever possible.  

“As you question things you have empathy for people in these situations,” Wolff says, “and then you’ll start to see, [the world] doesn’t have to be like this.”

About Michael Wolff

A founder of Wolff Olins – among the world’s most iconic design companies. Now, as Michael Wolff and Company he works with clients around the world both as a designer and creative advisor. Amongst his recent clients are The Ministry of Sound and The UK Government’s Technology Strategy Board in the UK, Citigroup in the US, and a Bank called Pyjom – “Let’s go” – in Russia.

A former President of the CSD and the D&AD, Michael has given talks and interviews in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, Latvia, The Netherlands, India, Mexico, Norway, Russia, Sweden and Singapore. He’s a visiting Professor at Central St Martins (The University of the Arts in London) and at Cape Peninsula University of Technology (Cape Town South Africa). He’s a Senior Fellow at the RCA (The Royal College of Art), a member of the UK’s faculty of Royal Designers for Industry, and is the ‘Inclusive design champion’ for the UK Government.


Michael Wolff and Company
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  • ben

    Great articulation of how empathy relates to building a great company.

  • http://www.standingoutinaseaofsameness.com/ Dave Rothacker

    I watch this video once and can only comprehend bits and pieces of what Michael is saying. I am distracted by the posture that Matias Corea is taking.

    My perception makes me read into this a little bit, but hey, that’s what perception is. I keep thinking that Matias’s body language and attention is making Michael feel good.

    How on earth could someone of Michael’s stature be affected?

    I guarantee you that he has been interviewed my the most indifferent nincompoops on the planet.

    It’s clearly evident that Matias is curious and values Michael’s opinion.

    When we are out there seeking advice from our elders and those out on the road in front of us, this is how we should do it.

    Nice work guys!

  • dirgis

    Its a shame that the interviewers don’t seem to make an effort to start a real conversation and pick up on the things he is saying as good interviewers do. It feels more like a questionnaire they have to fill out…

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