Reading the Economist hindered my job prospects, but helped my career

Maybe certain former co-workers won’t like me sharing these kinds of stories. But I doubt they’ll ever read them. And if they do, I hope they can understand that this isn’t about us; it’s about something much larger.

I can’t remember when it happened. I think it was during an annual review. But it might have been during one of the dozen meetings I had with various co-workers leading up to me leaving my day job in early 2012. These discussions stretched back something like 15 months before I quit. I did all that I could, in the ways that I could, to avoid a cataclysm, to not have to just opt out. I even cried in one of the more private meetings. It got emotional. But those are all stories for another time. There’s so much to be learned from those events, and even a year later I’m still processing what happened.

I had a boss tell me this:

I’m viewed as less of a designer because I read The Economist at lunch instead of design magazines.

He literally and honestly suggested that I start looking at design magazines if I wanted to be taken seriously as someone who cared about design. And the impression was given that he wasn’t the only one who thought this.


This is a clue to our eroding relevance. This is a clue to so much more.

He and I couldn’t even communicate on the value of various design sources. Some architects find inspiration by learning about construction methods via books like JLC Field Guide to Residential Construction, Volume 1: A Manual of Best Practice. Others want to paw over the latest issue of Dwell. And others get sucked into The Economist. All are valid. Perhaps one direction makes more sustainable buildings, another more beautiful, and the third more cerebral. Depending on which type of architect you ask, they’ll assign those directions to different sources. But there’s no way each route can’t lead to all three.


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