The west is aspirational, the west is the leader and the west is, for so many of us, the dream. But Eric Cruz, Executive Creative Director, AKQA, put a new twist to the ‘American dream’ when he talked about how Asia is where the future is.
In his session, at Goafest 2017, Cruz asked some pertinent questions such as are we Asians followers and not innovators? Are we Asians creative enough?
“Pablo Picasso once said that all children are artists but the problem is that when we grow up somehow we unlearn how to be creative and how to imagine,” said Cruz.
Speaking about why Asians don’t take enough risks Cruz said, “It wasn’t always this way. In China, about 4,000 years ago, they invented something called the abacus. 3,000 years ago, China was actually known as the silicon valley of the world. But there is a stigma that follows us now of being fast followers but not necessarily being inventors.”
Cruz feels Asia puts too much emphasis on old wisdom than on curiosity.
“Whether it is Japan, China or South Korea there is this belief that old wisdom and knowledge trumps curiosity and new thinking. Whereas in the west it is the other way round, there, young people are redefining the world.”
Cruz also believes that religion has a part to play in this. Elaborating, he said, “If you look at it then Buddhism is a very non-converting, non-conquering religion. The west on the other hand went around the world trying to convert everybody.”
Having lived in Japan for 10 years, Cruz observed that Asians are very silent and that according to him is another area that we Asians should look into.
Pointing out some more pertinent points that are keeping Asians from reaching their full potential, Cruz said, “Asians in general are much more insular than westerners. But I think the biggest stumbling block is this thing called critical thinking. Most of us in Asia are not taught to think differently, we are much encouraged to accept things and never challenge. Another factor is language. There is no unifying language between all of us in Asia, it is a very diverse linguistic area of the world. So, there are less parallels and more closed societies as a result of that.”
Cruz also thinks that the ‘we’ is more important than the ‘I’ in this part of the world and that standing out is looked down upon creating another hurdle for innovation and creativity.
He also drew attention to the redundant education system and how there hasn’t been a change in our schooling system for 256 years.
“Our school system hasn’t changed since the industrial revolution. Basically, our schooling system back then trained us for manual and repetitive labour. But with technology, what we learn will also lead to change,” said Cruz.
Speaking about how we can cultivate our next tomorrow, Cruz said, “Stay stupid. For everything you know there is so much you don’t know. We must always remember to think like a kid, which is basically questioning everything. Destroy hierarchies because much of history and revolution is defined by you. You have the power to change the world. Find yourself. The biggest responsibility we have towards ourselves is to find our true purpose and if you know who you are you will find your purpose. Always challenge the status quo. Embrace failure and take chances. Often while chasing success one tends to forget how to fail but when you fail you realise that you have created a map for success. We have to lose our fear of being wrong.”
Speaking about the importance of being curious, Cruz, “Curiosity has its own to exist. If curiosity is what created the fire then what is our new fire. The important thing is to never stop questioning.”
Cruz firmly believes that the age of innovation is going to be ‘SinoKorIndian’ meaning that China, Korea and India will be epicentres of innovation.
“Our challenge really is how to reinvent Asia through innovation because when we innovate we will begin to influence the word.”