Page 1

ONE HUNDRED Vancouver2014

Ideas Worth Spreading

TED is a small non-profit organisation devoted to Ideas

TED Conferences LLC

Wor th Spreading. It star ted out in 1984 as a conference

250 Hudson St.

bringing together people from three worlds: Technology,

Suite 1002

Enter tainment, Design. Along with the annual TED

New York, NY 10013

Conference in Long Beach, California, and the TEDGlobal

Tel 212 346 9333

conferences, TED includes the award-winning TEDTalks

Fax 212 227 6397

video site, the Open Translation Program, the new TEDx

Designed by Peter Bolton

community program, this year’s TEDIndia Conference and the annual TED Prize. On, the best talks and performances from TED and par tners are made available to the world, for free. More than 1500 TEDTalks are now available, by the end of 2012 TEDTalks had been viewed one billion times worldwide! The TED2014 conference in Vancouver, Canada celebrates TED’s 30th anniversar y. This year features 100 of the best speakers of all time, 100 speakers that have changed the way we see the world.

Contents 4

Art & Design

Featuring: Stefan Sagmeister, Frank Gehry


Business & Economics




Health & Personal Growth

Featuring: Richard Branson, Malcom Gladwell

Featuring: Jamie Oliver, Salman Khan

Featuring: Aubrey de Grey, Tony Robbins




Religion & Phylosophy


Science & Technology


Social Sciences & Global Issues

Featuring: Jim Fallon, Pamela Meyer

Featuring: Alain de Botton, Daniel H. Pink

Featuring: Richard Dawkins, Stephen Hawking

Featuring: Johanna Blakley, Al Gore

“Being a part of TED was a genuine privilege. I’ve never experienced anything remotely like it. I was entertained, educated, enthralled, moved, challenged, intimidated, humbled and most of all inspired!”

Jeffrey Katzenberg Partner, DreamWorks SKG

Art & Design 5

J. J. Abrams: The mystery box


Joshua Prince-Ramus: Building a theater that remakes itself


Edward Burtynsky: Photographing the landscape of oil


Franco Sacchi: A tour of Nollywood


David Carson: Design and discovery


Stefan Sagmeister: The power of time off


Cameron Carpenter: Transforming energy into music


Paula Scher: Great design is serious, not solemn


Frank Gehry: A master architect asks, Now what?


Cameron Sinclair: A call for open-source architecture


Seth Godin: This is broken


Philippe Starck: Design and destiny


Herbie Hancock: An all-star set


Anna Deavere Smith: Four American characters


Chris Jordan: Turning powerful stats into art


Ed Ulbrich: How Benjamin Button got his face


William Kamkwamba: How I built a windmill


John Q. Walker: Great piano performances, recreated


Ross Lovegrove: Organic design, inspired by nature


John Maeda: My journey in design


William McDonough: Cradle to cradle design


Vik Muniz: Art with wire, sugar, chocolate and string


James Nachtwey: Let my photographs bear witness


Jehane Noujaim: A global day of film

TED2014 Art & Design


TED2014 One Hundred

Stefan Sagmeister Stefan Sagmeister (born 1962 in Bregenz, Austria) is a New York-based graphic designer and typographer. He has his own design firm, Sagmeister Inc in New York City. He has designed album covers for Lou Reed, OK Go, The Rolling Stones, David Byrne, Aerosmith and Pat Metheny. Sagmeister studied graphic design at the University of Applied Ar ts Vienna. He later received a Fulbright scholarship to study at the Pratt Institute in New York. He began his design career at the age of 15 at “Alphorn”, an Austrian Youth magazine. In 1991, he moved to Hong Kong to work the Leo Burnett’s Hong Kong Design Group. In 1993, he returned to New York to work Tibor Kalman’s M&Co design firm. His tenure there was shor t lived, as Kalman soon decided to retire from the design business to edit Colors magazine for the Benetton Group in Rome. He then proceeded to form the New York based Sagmeister Inc. in 1993 and has since designed branding, graphics, and packaging for clients as diverse as the Rolling Stones, HBO, the Guggenheim Museum and Time Warner. Sagmeister Inc. has employed designers including Mar tin Woodtli, and Hjalti Karlsson and Jan Wilker, who later formed Karlssonwilker. Sagmeister is a long-standing ar tistic collaborator with musicians David Byrne and Lou Reed. He is the author of the design monograph “Made You Look” which was published by Booth-Clibborn editions. Solo shows on Sagmeister Inc’s work have been mounted in Zurich, Vienna, New York, Berlin, Japan,

Osaka, Prague, Cologne, and Seoul. He teaches in the graduate depar tment of the School of Visual Ar ts in New York and has been appointed as the Frank Stanton Chair at the Cooper Union School of Ar t, New York. He has received a Grammy Award in 2005 in Best Boxed or Special Limited Edition Package categor y for ar t directing Once in a Lifetime box set by Talking Heads. He would also work on the 2008 David Byrne and Brian Eno album Ever ything That Happens Will Happen Today. His motto is “Design that needed guts from the creator and still carries the ghost of these guts in the final execution.” Sagmeister goes on a year-long sabbatical around ever y 7 years, where he does not take work from clients. He has just returned from one in Bali, Indonesia, he is resolute about this, even if the work is tempting, and has displayed this by declining an offer to design a poster for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. Sagmeister spends the year experimenting with personal work and refreshing himself as a designer.


TED2014 Art & Design

The power of time off I run a design studio in New York. Ever y seven years I close it for one year to pursue some little experiments, things that are always difficult to accomplish during the regular working year. In that year we are not available for any of our clients. We are totally closed. And as you can imagine, it is a lovely and ver y energetic time. I originally had opened the studio in New York to combine my two loves, music and design. And we created videos and packaging for many musicians that you know. And for even more that you’ve never heard of. As I realized, just like with many many things in my life that I actually love, I adapt to it. And I get, over time, bored by them. And for sure, in our case, our work star ted to look the same. You see here a glass eye in a die cut of a book. Quite the similar idea, then, a perfume packaged in a book, in a die cut. So I decided to close it down for one year. Also is the knowledge that right now we spend about in the first 25 years of our lives learning. Then there is another 40 years that’s really reser ved for working. And then tacked on at the end of it are about 15 years for retirement. And I thought it might be helpful to basically cut off five of those retirement years and intersperse them in between those working years. That’s clearly enjoyable for myself. But probably even more impor tant is that the work that comes out of these years flows back into the company, and into society at large, rather than just benefiting a grandchild or two. There is a fellow TEDster who spoke two years ago, Jonathan Haidt, who defined his work into three different levels. And they rang ver y true for me. I can see my work as a job. I do it for money. I likely already look forward to


the weekend, on Thursdays. And I probably will need a hobby as a leveling mechanism. In a career I’m definitely more engaged. But at the same time there will be periods when I think is all that really hard work really wor th my while? While in the third one, in the calling, ver y much likely I would do it also if I wouldn’t be financially compensated for it. I am not a religious person myself, but I did look for nature. I had spent my first sabbatical in New York City. Looked for something different for the second one. Europe and the U.S. didn’t really feel enticing because I knew them too well. So Asia it was. The most beautiful landscapes I had seen in Asia were Sri Lanka and Bali. Sri Lanka still had the civil war going on. So Bali it was. It’s a wonderful, ver y craft-oriented society. I arrived there in September 2008, and pretty much star ted to work right away. There is wonderful inspiration coming from the area itself. However the first thing that I needed was mosquito repellent typography because they were definitely around heavily. And then I needed some sor t of way to be able to get back to all the wild dogs that surround my house, and attacked me during my morning walks. So we created this series of 99 por traits on tee shir ts. Ever y single dog on one tee shir t. As a little retaliation with a just ever so slightly menacing message on the back of the shir t. Just before I left New York I decided I could actually renovate my studio. And then just leave it all to them. And I don’t have to do anything. So I looked for furniture. And it turned out that all the furniture that I really liked, I couldn’t afford. And all the stuff I could afford, I didn’t like.

TED2014 One Hundred

So one of the things that we pursued in Bali was pieces of furniture. Then there is a coffee table. I also did a coffee table. It’s called Be Here Now. It includes 330 compasses. And we had custom espresso cups made that hide a magnet inside, and make those compasses go crazy, always centering on them. Then this is a fairly talkative, verbose kind of chair. I also star ted meditating for the first time in my life in Bali. I’m extremely aware how boring it is to hear about other people’s happinesses. So I will not really go too far into it. Many of you will know this TEDster, Danny Gilber t, whose book, actually I got it through the TED book club. I think it took me four years to finally read it, while on sabbatical. And I was pleased to see that he actually wrote the book while he was on sabbatical. And I’ll show you a couple of people that did well by pursuing sabbaticals. Ferran Adria. Many people think he is right now the best chef in the world with his restaurant nor th of Barcelona, elBulli. His restaurant is open seven months ever y year. He closes it down for five months to experiment with a full kitchen staff. His latest numbers are fairly impressive. He can seat, throughout the year, he can seat 8,000 people. And he has 2.2 million requests for reser vations. If I look at my cycle, seven years, one year sabbatical, it’s 12.5 percent of my time. And if I look at companies that are actually more successful than mine, 3M, since the 1930s is giving all their engineers 15 percent to pursue whatever they want. There is some good successes. Scotch tape came out of this program, as well as Ar t Fr y who developed sticky notes from during his personal time for

3M. Google, of course, ver y famously gives 20 percent for their software engineers to pursue their own personal projects. I’ve found that finding out about what I’m going to like in the future, my ver y best way is to talk to people who have actually done it much better than myself envisioning it. When I had the idea of doing one, the process was, I made the decision and I put it into my daily planner book. And then I told as many, many people as I possibly could about it so that there was no way that I could chicken out later on. In the beginning, on the first sabbatical, it was rather disastrous. I had thought that I should do this without any plan, that this vacuum of time somehow would be wonderful and enticing for idea generation. It was not. I just, without a plan, I just reacted to little requests, not work requests, those I all said no to, but other little requests. Sending mail to Japanese design magazines and things like that. So I became my own intern. And I ver y quickly made a list of the things I was interested in, put them in a hierarchy, divided them into chunks of time and then made a plan, ver y much like in grade school. What does it say here? Monday eight to nine: stor y writing. Nine to ten: future thinking. This was not ver y successful. And so on and so for th. And that actually, specifically as a star ting point of the first sabbatical, worked really well for me. What came out of it? I really got close to design again. I had fun. Financially, seen over the long term, it was actually


TED2014 Art & Design

successful. Because of the improved quality, we could ask for higher prices. And probably most impor tantly, basically ever ything we’ve done in the seven years following the first sabbatical came out of thinking of that one single year. And I’ll show you a couple of projects that came out of the seven years following that sabbatical. One of the strands of thinking I was involved in was that sameness is so incredibly overrated. This whole idea that ever ything needs to be exactly the same works for a ver y ver y few strand of companies, and not for ever ybody else. We were asked to design an identity for Casa de Musica, the Rem Koolhaas-built music center in Por to, in Por tugal. And even though I desired to do an identity that doesn’t use the architecture, I failed at that. And mostly also because I realized out of a Rem Koolhaas presentation to the city of Por to where he talked about a conglomeration of various layers of meaning. Which I understood after

“One of the strands of thinking I was involved in was that sameness is so incredibly overrated.”


I translated it from architecture speech in to regular English, basically as logo making. And I understood that the building itself was a logo. So then it became quite easy. We put a mask on it, looked at it deep down in the ground, checked it out from all sides, west, nor th, south, east, top and bottom. Colored them in a ver y par ticular way by having a friend of mine write a piece of software, the Casa de Musica Logo Generator. That’s connected to a scanner. You put any image in there, like that Beethoven image. And the software, in a second, will give you the Casa de Musica Beethoven logo. Which, when you actually have to design a Beethoven poster, comes in handy because the visual information of the logo and the actual poster, is exactly the same. So it will always fits together, conceptually, of course. If Zappa’s music is performed, it gets its own logo. Or Philip Glass or Lou Reed or the Chemical Brothers who all performed there, get their own Casa de Musica logo. It works the same internally with the president or the musical director, whose Casa de Musica por traits wind up on their business cards. There is a full-blown orchestra living inside the building. It has a more transparent identity. The truck they go on tour with. Or there’s a smaller contemporar y orchestra, 12 people that remixes its own title. And one of the handy things that came about was that you could take the logo type and create adver tising out of it. Like this Donna Toney poster, or Chopin, or Mozar t, or La Monte Young. You can take the shape and make typography out of it. You can grow it underneath the

TED2014 One Hundred

skin. You can have a poster for a family event in front of the house, or a rave underneath the house, or a weekly program as well as educational ser vices. Second insight. So far, until that point I had been mostly involved or used the language of design for promotional purposes, which was fine with me. On one hand I have nothing against selling. My parents are both sales people. But I did feel that I spent so much time learning this language, why do I only promote with it? There must be something else. And the whole series of work came out of it. I showed some of it at earlier TEDs before, under the title “Things I’ve Learned In My Life So Far”. The city of Amsterdam gave us a plaza and asked us to do something. We used the stone plates as a grid for our little piece. We got 250 thousand coins from the central bank, at different darknesses. So we got brand new ones, shiny ones, medium ones, and ver y old, dark ones. And with the help of 100 volunteers, over a week, created this fairly floral typography that spelled, “Obsessions make my life worse and my work better.” And the idea of course was to make the type so precious that as an audience you would be in between, “Should I really take as much money as I can? Or should I leave the piece intact as it is right now?” While we built all this up during that week, with the hundred volunteers, a good number of the neighbours surrounding the plaza got ver y close to it and quite loved it. So when it was finally done, and in the first night a guy came with big plastic bags and scooped up as many coins as he could possibly carr y, one of the neighbours called the police. And the Amsterdam police in all their wisdom, came, saw, and they wanted to

protect the ar twork. And they swept it all up and put it into custody at police headquar ters. So after eight hours that’s pretty much all that was left of the whole thing. We are also working on the star t of a bigger project in Bali. It’s a movie about happiness. And here we asked some nearby pigs to do the titles for us. They weren’t quite slick enough. So we asked the goose to do it again, and hoped she would do somehow, a more elegant or pretty job. And I think she overdid it. Just a bit too ornamental. And my studio is ver y close to the monkey forest. And the monkeys in that monkey forest looked, actually, fairly happy. So we asked those guys to do it again. They did a fine job, but had a couple of readability problems. So of course whatever you don’t really do yourself doesn’t really get done properly. That film we’ll be working on for the next two years. So It’s going to be a while. And of course you might think that doing a film on happiness might not really be wor thwhile, then you can of course always go and see this guy. Video: And I’m happy I’m alive. I’m happy I’m alive. I’m happy I’m alive. Stefan Sagmeister : Thank you.


TED2014 Art & Design

“Thank you a thousand times for inviting me to your wonderful TED conference. I regret not only that I was not at every moment of it, but especially that I missed all the previous ones! It was a great and stimulating experience as well as a lot of fun.� Rupert Murdoch chair & CEO, The News Corporation


TED2014 One Hundred

Business & Economics 63

Richard Branson: Life at 30,000 feet


Malcom Gladwell: We can learn from spaghetti sauce


Tim Jackson: An economic reality check


Jill Tarter: A new way to fund space exploration


TED2014 Art & Design


TED2014 One Hundred

Malcom Gladwell Malcolm Gladwell is the author of five New York Times bestsellers — The Tipping Point, Blink, Outliers, What the Dog Saw, and now, his latest, David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits and the Ar t of Battling Giants. He has been named one of the 100 most influential people by TIME magazine and one of the Foreign Policy’s Top Global Thinkers.

Dog Saw and David and Goliath Member of the Order of Canada Honourar y doctorate of letters, University of Toronto Former science and medicine writer for The Washington Post Winner, National Magazine Award

He has explored how ideas spread in the Tipping Point, decision making in Blink, and the roots of success in Outliers. With his latest book, David and Goliath, he examines our understanding of the advantages of disadvantages, arguing that we have underestimated the value of adversity and overestimated the value of privilege. He has been a staff writer for The New Yorker since 1996. He has won a national magazine award and been honored by the American Psychological Society and the American Sociological Society. He was previously a repor ter for The Washington Post. Malcolm is an extraordinar y speaker : always on target, aware of the context and the concerns of the audience, informative and practical, poised, eloquent and warm and funny. He has an unsurpassed ability to be both enter taining and challenging. Credentials: Staff writer for The New Yorker Author, The Tipping Point, Blink, Outliers, What the


TED2014 Art & Design

We can learn from spaghetti sauce I think I was supposed to talk about my new book, which is called “Blink,” and it’s about snap judgments and first impressions. And it comes out in Januar y, and I hope you all buy it in triplicate. But I was thinking about this, and I realised that although my new book makes me happy, and I think would make my mother happy, it’s not really about happiness. So I decided instead, I would talk about someone who I think has done as much to make Americans happy as perhaps anyone over the last 20 years, a man who is a great personal hero of mine: someone by the name of Howard Moskowitz, who is most famous for reinventing spaghetti sauce. Howard’s about this high, and he’s round, and he’s in his 60s, and he has big huge glasses and thinning grey hair, and he has a kind of wonderful exuberance and vitality, and he has a parrot, and he loves the opera, and he’s a great aficionado of medieval histor y. And by profession, he’s a psychophysicist. Now, I should tell you that I have no idea what psychophysics is, although at some point in my life, I dated a girl for two years who was getting her doctorate in psychophysics. Which should tell you something about that relationship. As far as I know, psychophysics is about measuring things. And Howard is ver y interested in measuring things. And he graduated with his doctorate from Har vard, and he set up a little consulting shop in White Plains, New York. And one of his first clients was – this is many years ago, back in the early ‘70s – one of his first clients was Pepsi. And Pepsi came to Howard and they said, “You know, there’s this new thing called aspar tame, and we would like to make Diet Pepsi. We’d like you to figure out how much


aspar tame we should put in each can of Diet Pepsi, in order to have the perfect drink.” Right? Now that sounds like an incredibly straightforward question to answer, and that’s what Howard thought. Because Pepsi told him, “Look, we’re working with a band between eight and 12 percent. Anything below eight percent sweetness is not sweet enough; anything above 12 percent sweetness is too sweet. We want to know: what’s the sweet spot between eight and 12?” Now, if I gave you this problem to do, you would all say, it’s ver y simple. What we do is you make up a big experimental batch of Pepsi, at ever y degree of sweetness – eight percent, 8.1, 8.2, 8.3, all the way up to 12 – and we tr y this out with thousands of people, and we plot the results on a cur ve, and we take the most popular concentration. Right? Really simple. Howard does the experiment, and he gets the data back, and he plots it on a cur ve, and all of a sudden he realises it’s not a nice bell cur ve. In fact, the data doesn’t make any sense. It’s a mess. It’s all over the place. Now, most people in that business, in the world of testing food and such, are not dismayed when the data comes back a mess. They think, well, you know, figuring out what people think about cola’s not that easy. You know, maybe we made an error somewhere along the way. You know, let’s just make an educated guess, and they simply point and they go for 10 percent, right in the middle. Howard is not so easily placated. Howard is a man of a cer tain degree of intellectual standards. And this was not good enough for him, and this question bedevilled him for years. And he would think it through and say, what was wrong? Why

TED2014 One Hundred

could we not make sense of this experiment with Diet Pepsi? And one day, he was sitting in a diner in White Plains, about to go tr y to dream up some work for Nescafe. And suddenly, like a bolt of lightning, the answer came to him. And that is, that when they analysed the Diet Pepsi data, they were asking the wrong question. They were looking for the perfect Pepsi, and they should have been looking for the perfect Pepsis. Trust me. This was an enormous revelation. This was one of the most brilliant breakthroughs in all of food science. And Howard immediately went on the road, and he would go to conferences around the countr y, and he would stand up and he would say, “You had been looking for the perfect Pepsi. You’re wrong. You should be looking for the perfect Pepsis.” And people would look at him with a blank look, and they would say, “What are you talking about? This is craziness.” And they would say, you know, “Move! Next!” He tried to get business, nobody would hire him – he was obsessed, though, and he talked about it and talked about it and talked about it. Howard loves the Yiddish expression “To a worm in horseradish, the world is horseradish.” This was his horseradish. He was obsessed with it! And finally, he had a breakthrough. Vlasic Pickles came to him, and they said, “Mr. Moskowitz – Doctor Moskowitz – we want to make the perfect pickle.” And he said, “There is no perfect pickle; there are only perfect pickles.” And he came back to them and he said, “You don’t just need to improve your regular ; you need to create zesty.” And that’s where we got zesty pickles. Then the next person came to him, and that was Campbell’s Soup. And this was even more impor tant. In fact, Campbell’s Soup is where Howard

made his reputation. Campbell’s made Prego, and Prego, in the early ‘80s, was struggling next to Ragu, which was the dominant spaghetti sauce of the ‘70s and ‘80s. Now in the industr y – I don’t know whether you care about this, or how much time I have to go into this. But it was, technically speaking – this is an aside – Prego is a better tomato sauce than Ragu. The quality of the tomato paste is much better ; the spice mix is far superior ; it adheres to the pasta in a much more pleasing way. In fact, they would do the famous bowl test back in the ‘70s with Ragu and Prego. You’d have a plate of spaghetti, and you would pour it on, right? And the Ragu would all go to the bottom, and the Prego would sit on top. That’s called “adherence.” And, anyway, despite the fact that they were far superior in adherence, and the quality of their tomato paste, Prego was struggling. So they came to Howard, and they said, fix us. And Howard looked at their product line, and he said, what you have is a dead tomato society. So he said, this is what I want to do. And he got together with the Campbell’s soup kitchen, and he made 45 varieties of spaghetti sauce. And he varied them according to ever y conceivable way that you can var y tomato sauce: by sweetness, by level of garlic, by tar tness, by sourness, by tomatoey-ness, by visible solids – my favourite term in the spaghetti sauce business. Ever y conceivable way you can var y spaghetti sauce, he varied spaghetti sauce. And then he took this whole raft of 45 spaghetti sauces, and he went on the road. He went to New York; he went to Chicago; he went to Jacksonville; he went to Los Angeles. And he brought in people by the truckload. Into big halls. And he sat them down for two hours, and he gave them, over the course of that two hours, ten bowls. Ten small bowls of pasta, with


TED2014 Art & Design

a different spaghetti sauce on each one. And after they ate each bowl, they had to rate, from 0 to 100, how good they thought the spaghetti sauce was. At the end of that process, after doing it for months and months, he had a mountain of data about how the American people feel about spaghetti sauce. And then he analysed the data. Now, did he look for the most popular brand variety of spaghetti sauce? No! Howard doesn’t believe that there is such a thing. Instead, he looked at the data, and he said, let’s see if we can group all these different data points into clusters. Let’s see if they congregate around cer tain ideas. And sure enough, if you sit down, and you analyse all this data on spaghetti sauce, you realise that all Americans fall into one of three groups. There are people who like their spaghetti sauce plain; there are people who like their spaghetti sauce spicy; and there are people who like it extra chunky.

“ You

telling me that one third of Americans crave extra-chunky spaghetti sauce and yet no one is servicing their needs? ”


And of those three facts, the third one was the most significant, because at the time, in the early 1980s, if you went to a supermarket, you would not find extra-chunky spaghetti sauce. And Prego turned to Howard, and they said, “You telling me that one third of Americans crave extra-chunky spaghetti sauce and yet no one is ser vicing their needs?” And he said yes! And Prego then went back, and completely reformulated their spaghetti sauce, and came out with a line of extra chunky that immediately and completely took over the spaghetti sauce business in this countr y. And over the next 10 years, they made 600 million dollars off their line of extra-chunky sauces. And ever yone else in the industr y looked at what Howard had done, and they said, “Oh my god! We’ve been thinking all wrong!” And that’s when you star ted to get seven different kinds of vinegar, and 14 different kinds of mustard, and 71 different kinds of olive oil – and then eventually even Ragu hired Howard, and Howard did the exact same thing for Ragu that he did for Prego. And today, if you go to the supermarket, a really good one, and you look at how many Ragus there are – do you know how many they are? 36! In six varieties: Cheese, Light, Robusto, Rich & Hear ty, Old World Traditional, ExtraChunky Garden. That’s Howard’s doing. That is Howard’s gift to the American people. Now why is that impor tant? It is, in fact, enormously impor tant. I’ll explain to you why. What Howard did is he fundamentally changed the way the food industr y thinks about making you happy. Assumption number one in the food industr y used to be that the way to find out what people want to eat – what will make people happy – is to ask them. And for years and years and years and years,

TED2014 One Hundred

Ragu and Prego would have focus groups, and they would sit all you people down, and they would say, “What do you want in a spaghetti sauce? Tell us what you want in a spaghetti sauce.” And for all those years – 20, 30 years – through all those focus group sessions, no one ever said they wanted extra-chunky. Even though at least a third of them, deep in their hear ts, actually did. People don’t know what they want! Right? As Howard loves to say, “The mind knows not what the tongue wants.” It’s a myster y! And a critically impor tant step in understanding our own desires and tastes is to realise that we cannot always explain what we want deep down. If I asked all of you, for example, in this room, what you want in a coffee, you know what you’d say? Ever y one of you would say, “I want a dark, rich, hear ty roast.” It’s what people always say when you ask them what they want in a coffee. What do you like? Dark, rich, hear ty roast! What percentage of you actually like a dark, rich, hear ty roast? According to Howard, somewhere between 25 and 27 percent of you. Most of you like milky, weak coffee. But you will never, ever say to someone who asks you what you want that “I want a milky, weak coffee.” So that’s number one thing that Howard did. Number two thing that Howard did is he made us realise – it’s another ver y critical point – he made us realise in the impor tance of what he likes to call “horizontal segmentation.” Why is this critical? It’s critical because this is the way the food industr y thought before Howard. Right? What were they obsessed with in the early ‘80s? They were obsessed with mustard. In par ticular, they were obsessed with the stor y of Grey Poupon. Right? Used to

“Most of you like milky, weak coffee. But you will never, ever say to someone who asks you what you want” be, there were two mustards. French’s and Gulden’s. What were they? Yellow mustard. What’s in yellow mustard? Yellow mustard seeds, turmeric, and paprika. That was mustard. Grey Poupon came along, with a Dijon. Right? Much more volatile brown mustard seed, some white wine, a nose hit, much more delicate aromatics. And what do they do? They put it in a little tiny glass jar, with a wonderful enamelled label on it, made it look French, even though it’s made in Oxnard, California. And instead of charging a dollar-fifty for the eight-ounce bottle, the way that French’s and Gulden’s did, they decided to charge four dollars. And then they had those ads, right? With the guy in the Rolls Royce, and he’s eating the Grey Poupon. The other Rolls Royce pulls up, and he says, do you have any Grey Poupon? And the whole thing, after they did that, Grey Poupon takes off! Takes over the mustard business! And ever yone’s take-home lesson from that was that the way to get to make people happy is to give them something that is more expensive, something to aspire to. Right? It’s to make them turn their back on what they think they like now, and reach out for something higher


TED2014 Art & Design

up the mustard hierarchy. A better mustard! A more expensive mustard! A mustard of more sophistication and culture and meaning. And Howard looked to that and said, that’s wrong! Mustard does not exist on a hierarchy. Mustard exists, just like tomato sauce, on a horizontal plane. There is no good mustard or bad mustard. There is no perfect mustard or imperfect mustard. There are only different kinds of mustards that suit different kinds of people. He fundamentally democratised the way we think about taste. And for that, as well, we owe Howard Moskowitz a huge vote of thanks. Third thing that Howard did, and perhaps the most impor tant, is Howard confronted the notion of the Platonic dish. What do I mean by that? For the longest time in the food industr y, there was a sense that there was one way, a perfect way, to make a dish. You go to Chez Panisse, they give you the red-tail sashimi with roasted pumpkin seeds in a something something reduction. They

“Mustard does not exist on a hierarchy. Mustard exists, just like tomato sauce, on a horizontal plane.”


don’t give you five options on the reduction, right? They don’t say, do you want the extra-chunky reduction, or do you want the – no! You just get the reduction. Why? Because the chef at Chez Panisse has a Platonic notion about red-tail sashimi. This is the way it ought to be. And she ser ves it that way time and time again, and if you quarrel with her, she will say, “You know what? You’re wrong! This is the best way it ought to be in this restaurant.” Now that same idea fuelled the commercial food industr y as well. They had a notion, a Platonic notion, of what tomato sauce was. And where did that come from? It came from Italy. Italian tomato sauce is what? It’s blended; it’s thin. The culture of tomato sauce was thin. When we talked about authentic tomato sauce in the 1970s, we talked about Italian tomato sauce. We talked about the earliest Ragus, which had no visible solids, right? Which were thin, and you just put a little bit over it and it sunk down to the bottom of the pasta. That’s what it was. And why were we attached to that? Because we thought that was what it took to make people happy was to provide them with the most culturally authentic tomato sauce, A; and B, we thought that if we gave them the culturally authentic tomato sauce, then they would embrace it. And that’s what would please the maximum number of people. And the reason we thought that – in other words, people in the cooking world were looking for cooking universals. They were looking for one way to treat all of us. And it’s good reason for them to be obsessed with the idea of universals, because all of science, through the 19th centur y and much of the 20th, was obsessed with universals. Psychologists, medical scientists, economists

TED2014 One Hundred

“People in the cooking world were looking for cooking universals. They were looking for one way to treat all of us.” were all interested in finding out the rules that govern the way all of us behave. But that changed, right? What is the great revolution in science of the last 10, 15 years? It is the movement from the search for universals to the understanding of variability. Now in medical science, we don’t want to know how necessarily – just how cancer works, we want to know how your cancer is different from my cancer. Genetics has opened the door to the study of human variability. What Howard Moskowitz was doing was saying, this same revolution needs to happen in the world of tomato sauce. And for that, we owe him a great vote of thanks.

all of you to tr y and come up with a brand of coffee – a type of coffee, a brew – that made all of you happy, and then I asked you to rate that coffee, the average score in this room for coffee would be about 60 on a scale of 0 to 100. If, however, you allowed me to break you into coffee clusters, maybe three or four coffee clusters, and I could make coffee just for each of those individual clusters, your scores would go from 60 to 75 or 78. The difference between coffee at 60 and coffee at 78 is a difference between coffee that makes you wince, and coffee that makes you deliriously happy. That is the final, and I think most beautiful lesson, of Howard Moskowitz: that in embracing the diversity of human beings, we will find a surer way to true happiness. Thank you.

I’ll give you one last illustration of variability, and that is – oh, I’m sorr y. Howard not only believed that, but he took it a second step, which was to say that when we pursue universal principles in food, we aren’t just making an error ; we are actually doing ourselves a massive disser vice. And the example he used was coffee. And coffee is something he did a lot of work with, with Nescafe. If I were to ask



TED2014 brochure proposal.