Jeni Sez: Always Ask What If, Then Apply Progress

by Jeni Hergerger

Have you ever been asked to describe yourself in just 7 words? Me neither. But if you were to do so, what would you say? My dear friend, riCardo crespo, is the one who put this idea in my head. He told me he always looks to describe himself in just 7 words. For those of you who know him, these 7 words will be no surprise, ‘always ask what if, then apply progress.’ For those of you who don’t know him, I think you should.

On my newly created series, ‘Talk Story with Jeni’, I had the opportunity to share with my listeners the story and thoughts of this rare and talented individual. There is, of course, the fact sheet. For the past 9 years, riCardo has been the Executive Group Creative Director for Mattel Inc overseeing brands such as Hot Wheels and effectively earning the creative team at Mattel a place at the table amongst the decision makers. More interesting is the backstory of how riCardo got to the place he is and what those experiences have done to shape how he takes on the world.

What truly impresses me most about people like riCardo is the manner in which they question the protocol around them and then find whys to make things work. This is particularly important in the field of design whether graphic, interior, industrial or product. Designers don’t learn to be creative. As creatures of God, every one of us is creative. Artists express that creativity in forms that touch the senses; sight, smell, hearing, tasting, and touching. Designers use these creative expressions to add form and function to the world around us. The difference between an artist and a designer is obvious. The difference between a designer and a design thinker is subtle but HUGE!

Design thinkers take the elements of creative expression and use them to solve problems, entice growth and ignite change. Thinkers don’t design for the sake of art but use art for the sake of design. Design is purposeful with a starting point and an ending point. Those who can think this way, looking beyond the limits of the tools within their reach, are those who literally have the power to change the world.

I asked riCardo offline to tell me where he saw design going in the future and how it was that he thought we as an industry could prepare for it. He told me, ‘We, as designers, will continue to be a huge factor in how brand becomes a choice in people’s lives. With this being the case, design will continue to prove its merits as a valued business component towards delivering against a brand’s promise.’ riCardo also believes, as do I, that we will see more and more collaboration between the experts in the fields of deign, utilizing specialty disciplines and minimizing the ‘jack of all trades’ methodology we have seen over the past decade.

Long and short of it, great design thinkers like riCardo crespo bring a philosophy to design, work and life that we can all learn from. The idea that there is always something out there to invent, to strive for; and greatness comes through pursuit and perseverance. One is simply useless without the other.

Hear the full hour of “Talk Story with Jeni’ and riCardo at

©2010, Jeni Herberger