Why do we like what we like? Raymond Loewy, the father of industrial design, had a theory. He was the all-star 20th-century designer of the Coca-Cola fountain and Lucky Strike pack; the modern sports car, locomotive, Greyhound bus and tractor; the interior of the first NASA spaceship; and the egg-shaped pencil sharpener. How did one man understand what consumers wanted from so many different areas of life? His grand theory of popularity was called MAYA: Most advanced yet acceptable. He said humans are torn between two opposing forces: neophilia, a love of new things; and neophobia; a fear of anything that’s too new. Hits, he said, live at the perfect intersection of novelty and familiarity. They are familiar surprises. In this talk, I’ll explain how Loewy’s theory has been validated by hundreds of years of research — and how we can all use it to make hits. Derek Thompson is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about economics, technology and media. He is a news analyst with NPR’s afternoon show “Here and Now,” appearing weekly on Mondays, and an on-air contributor to CBS News. The recipient of several honors, including the 2016 Best in Business award for Columns and Commentary from the Society of American Business Editors and Writers, he is the author of the national bestselling book Hit Makers: How to Succeed in an Age of Distraction.
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