The best profession

Since my Quora “answer” has been wildly popular (more than 19,000 views), I am sharing it below, including the question ad verbetim.

Q: What is the best profession in the world?

Please remember to mention actual jobs or professions, and answers such as Best mother, Best friend, or any further description (like do whatever you love) are not acceptable because these answers aren’t really answering.


Three (related) answers.

I. Designer

When starting out, as designer you learn about these things (and many more not listed) in no particular order:

1. science, technology, engineering and mathematics  (STEM)
2. fine arts (techniques)
3. art and world history
4. design disciplines (there are numerous)
5. creative disciplines
6. psychology 
7. business
8. typography 
9. Etc. you see, the list is long…

I mostly chose design for two reasons: the ability to learn indefinitely and my preference for honest and profound beauty (aesthetics). I chose studying design at artcenter.edu because I got a scholarship when in Europe after I read about Art Center College of Design in a magazine (the article happened to be well-written and the catalog I received from admissions was so well designed that I instantaneously decided to become a designer). Before, I never could quite make up my mind what I wanted to become when a child (I loved to draw and paint, act and sing,  play music, be a writer, and science), design was the answer.

Craig Ellwood’s hillside Art Center College of Design campus in Pasadena, California

Craig Ellwood’s hillside Art Center College of Design campus in Pasadena, California

Initially I wanted to go to the academy of fine arts, however, a professor advised me to apply for a scholarship, indicating that as designer I’d learn the same techniques as an artist but “I’d never be hungry”. That convinced me.

To make a long story short, being a designer in this day and age is more relevant than ever. It served me well: I became Creative Director at Apple in 2001 where I worked in the app division in a symbiotic relationship with engineering and the exec team for 10 years, then I was a VP at eBay and now I am working with start-ups and am also creating my own business to bring design closer to everyone, anywhere and anytime.

Good luck finding what you love, which brings me to the second answer:

II. The best job (for you) is what you love.

III. Being a Linchpin
Unless compensation isn’t of concern, you want to have a job that you get paid for regardless of how automated the future world is going to be: being a designer is like being a linchpin: you are in a way indispensable; there are skills and benefits from being a designer, that will make you always a desirable candidate, granted that you shine in your field and that you can compare your design-sense to the “perfect pitch” in music: how to become indispensable, is a mix of the following: 

critical design thinking, deep knowledge of design, design history, design principles and practices: you need to also know a lot about design, not only knowing where to look and what to ask for when solving a design problem, taste (it matters a lot, especially if your design work involves any form of stylistic expression (aka look and feel), trained eye, albeit this truly means “brain”, because design involves other sensual experiences, including touch, smell, sound, etc., and track-record: here it matters less how many years to have spent in the field, however, with whom you have been working with, and the quality of your contribution.