Peter's response to the question of what he does is itself a validation of his mastery of his field:
"In the ‘occupation’ field of the the landing card I fill in whenever entering the UK, I currently write “Researcher” because they just want a box to put me in. When asked by people at networking events who aren’t really interested but just want an answer to the ‘So, what do you do?’ question, I say “I’m a creative entrepreneur turned academic”. In my mind I’m a curious explorer and dot connector.
"I have lived and worked in 5 different countries since leaving my native New Zealand about 20 years ago. I spent the first half of my career helping brands to tell their stories. The second half I spent flying around the world with a concept that Harvard Business Review described as “an experiment in social chemistry” and now I’m at Imperial College doing a PhD in Design Engineering where the focus of my research is on developing a set of design principles that will improve how we find, form, maintain and leverage connections with each other."
Why do you do what you do?
My passion for connecting unconnected dots stems from an insatiable curiosity. My focus on the human side of this puzzle (what I term ‘human connectivity’) is the result of traveling the world with a seemingly simple concept that helped unlikely people to connect in all manner of contexts.
We live in a world that is increasingly divided yet we’re told that we need to connect with people not like us in order to solve complex challenges and come up with truly innovative solutions. I’m fascinated by this paradox and wish to contribute to its betterment.
What's one thing that your work has taught you that you wish everyone knew?
Travel is a great start but it’s not enough.
When you spend an extended period in countries and cultures foreign to your own, avoiding expats, becoming fluent in the local language and embedding your self in their way of living, it opens your eyes to other perspectives. I have been fortunate to have lived in a variety of countries/cultures, to have my eyes opened to their ways and to be critical of my own. I guess I’ve always been curious and that’s what led me on this adventure in the first place.
What book or resource do you find most inspiring at the moment?
If I can bend the rules and include podcasts as a relevant category to this answer, I would have to say Hidden Brain, led by Shankar Vedantam at NPR.
How could The Hot Breakfast community help or support you?
Being an introvert combined with an unhealthy dose of kiwi humility means that I don’t create enough opportunities to share my thinking. I would greatly appreciate help from anyone either with crafting my own personal story and getting my thinking out into the world (e.g. speaking or writing in ‘public’ venues/channels)
What's your breakfast of choice?
Every morning I make what I describe as ‘funky chunky porridge’ for my family, made with rough oats and piled with fruits and nuts and a dash of maple syrup. It’s the perfect way to start the day.