Drew Smith: ethnographer, strategist and host of Rising Minds

CreativeMornings/London Interviews: Paul Ormorod

The Zürich chapter, situated in one of the more understated money capitals of the world, chose Money as the global theme for CreativeMornings in February.

Given London’s all-together more challenging take on that which makes capitalism go ’round, we knew that – for us – any old money man (or woman) wouldn’t do.

One only has to look at the titles of Paul Ormorod’s books to get a sense that he’s no classical economist. Starting with The Death of Economics, moving through Butterfly Economics and Why Most Things Fail: Evolution, Extinction and Economics and concluding (for now) with Positive Linking: How Networks Can Revolutionise the World, Ormorod has tirelessly challenged the economic orthodoxy. In it’s place, he argues for a model that more closely aligns with our irrational, networked selves and the natural systems we are beholden to.

Whoever said economics, creativity and desire to be more in tune with the world around us were mutually exclusive should get stuck in to Paul’s books.

Or, if you’re a CreativeMornings fan, come along to his talk. Hosted locally by LBi and supported globally by Squarespace, it will a fantastic opportunity to engage with a topic that we creatives rarely enjoy discussing.

Our usual interview is below for some further insight into Paul’s way of thinking. Otherwise, we’ll look forward to seeing you on the 22nd of February.

Paul Ormorod will be appearing at CreativeMornings/London, hosted and sponsored by LBi, on Friday, February 22nd. Doors open at 8:30am. Tickets will become available on the CreativeMornings/London Eventbrite page at 11am on Monday, February 18th.


Where do you go when you need to concentrate?
Anywhere where I can’t be interrupted and I have space to pace around when necessary

Is it about what you know or who you know?
This seems a pretty cynical question

What’s been the most pivotal point in your life thus far?
I grew up on a council estate in Rochdale, and getting into Cambridge was pivotal

Do you think there’s enough discourse between disciplines?
No, nowhere near enough. I liaise with a wide range of disciplines, anthropology,
psychology, economics, physics, for example. This is really important if we want to get a
better understanding of social and economic problems.

Can you teach innovation?

Dollar or Yuan?

Do you believe in an afterlife?

Negative or positive freedom?

Ideal holiday?
I am a keen hillwalker, so a cottage in the Scottish Highlands, ideally on the North West
coast. I would also like uninterrupted fine weather, but that is just a fantasy.

Can you draw?

Can you draw us a wave?

Individual or state (or both)?
Mainly individual

Favourite LP?
The Velvet Underground and Nico

Last book read?
Irvine Welch’s Skag Boys

The best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
During the 1980s and early 1990s I had become increasingly critical of mainstream, free
market economics. I was approached by Faber and Faber to write what became the Death
of Economics. But I had never written a non-academic book and I was very nervous about
agreeing to do it. But several people really pressed me. Worldwide, it sold over 1 million.
More importantly, it opened up whole new intellectual avenues and contacts which I would
never have come across if I had not written the book.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to be where you are?
Start off doing academic work, with a strong quant emphasis, but then get out after a few
years and use your innovative ideas in your own business

About DownSideUp Design

I'm Drew Smith and I'm an ethnographer and strategist. By day I shape culture and strategy at Westpac. By night I sleep (mostly). And once a month, I help teams host an event called Rising Minds in London, New York, Toronto and Sydney.

DownsideUpDesign is a place for me to collect stuff that I like, often love and sometimes hate for safe keeping. All views represented here are mine and mine alone and do not represent those of anyone else.

Get in touch at drewpasmith (at) gmail (dot) com or tweet me (@drewpasmith) to rant, contribute or collaborate!

Want DownsideUpdates sent to your email address? Click here:



© Andrew Philip Artois Smith and DownsideUpDesign, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Andrew/Drew Smith and DownsideUpDesign with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.