What I Learned from ‘How Designers Destroyed the World’

Webstock ’13: Mike Monteiro – How Designers Destroyed the World from Webstock on Vimeo.

You may not want to watch the video above if you’re in a space where there’s no room for foul language. Keep it open in your browser, though, and watch it when you get home.

The above talk from Designer Mike Monteiro has been sitting open in my browser for a few months now. Watch it. Find 48 minutes and watch it.

I can’t do better than Monteiro at summing up his message, so let me share some pieces that sparked thinking and feelings of accountability for me.

Monteiro says designers (and I think educators at top-speed fit this category) have four responsibilities:

  1. responsibility to the world in which we live

  2. responsibility to the craft

  3. responsibility to clients (Don’t work for anyone who you’re afraid to say “no” to. you aren’t an order taker, you are a gatekeeper.)

  4. responsibility to self (If you take responsibility for your work, you will do better work, you will enjoy it more, you will have the respect of both your clients and your colleagues…)

Other salient quotes:

“Reputation is just another word for your integrity.”


“You are not bigger than the problems you are solving.”


“Every time you let someone tell you how to do your job, you are teaching them that that is how the job is done.”


“Don’t tell me how. Tell me what. Tell me what needs improvement.”


“And I happen to believe in the power of romanic teenage girls, and I believe that they grow up into strong competent women. And they are better at spotting monsters than we are.”

And, finally…

“Wake up. It’s time to be aware of what we are doing.”