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David Hill

David Hill
David Hill (BSc Mathematics 1975-78), Warwick's alumni ambassador in New York City, has just had his mind map of the post-9/11 reconstruction of lower Manhattan accepted into the New York Museum of Modern Art's Study Collection. Here he looks back on some career achievements and gives some interesting advice to new graduates.


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When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I didn’t know. Like many adoptees, I didn’t have any “clues” from family members. I traced my birthparents about twelve years ago and found out that one grandfather was (in this order) a teacher/university lecturer/spymaster (MI5/MI6)/diplomat/clergyman and the other was the Mukhiya of the city of Anand in western India. If I’d known them, I’m sure they would have given me some interesting ideas.

What was the best careers advice you were given?

Do work up front. Fixing things at the end requires 10 times the work.

Describe yourself in three words

Persistent. Creative. Laconic.

What are the most challenging parts of your job?

Working in very un-David Hill culture.

What have you done that you are most proud of?

Lots, three things this year come to mind:

  • For the past thirteen years, from my original request, my company has been hosting the USA Memory Championship. Last year however, the woman who had administered everything retired. It fell on me to do (almost) everything to put it on. The event this year was especially important, as it coincided with the bestselling book about the event, Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything, by a previous winner, Joshua Foer. It was a major effort, but everything came together and the event was huge success.
  • After the 9/11 destruction of the New York City World Trade Center, Lisa Frigand a project specialist in economic development for my company, was closely involved with the rebuilding of downtown Manhattan. Her efforts were often stymied by the web of individuals, groups and organizations involved. This could have been overwhelming, but fortunately she knew me. I had already introduced her to Mind Mapping. we worked together gathering information from hundreds of sources including reports, brochures, magazines and the Internet, to create a poster-sized Mind Map of all the parties involved in the restoration of lower Manhattan. The main branches they created were government, civic, infrastructure, properties, victims and memorials. They also identified what was created after 9/11. When the map was completed, it showed everyone involved and their connections in a brain-friendly manner. People involved with the rebuilding effort were able to see, not only the big picture, but also the detail of this enormous effort. A few weeks ago, a blogger blogged about the map reminding me of it. First, I sent it to the 9/11 Memorial Museum and they expressed interest.

    Just after contacting them I attended a design symposium at the New York Museum of Modern Art. After the symposium was a wine reception for the attendees. I spoke with the woman whose symposium it was Paola Antonelli, the Head Curator of Architecture and Design and found out that she was a close friend of Lisa Frigand, my collaborator. The next day, I sent her a file of the map as a donation to the museum. She replied that I had to go through several approvals and filters, but she started the process. About a week later, I got an email from the museum saying that while they would not add it to the graphic collection, “We all felt that the work was of such important historical interest that we should include it in the MoMA Study Collection. The Mind Map is of particular interest to us given that we hold so much material pertaining to 9/11 and the rebuilding of lower Manhattan.” We delivered it the following week.
  • Three weeks ago, I was called out of the blue and asked to make a "what people are saying" video for my company's Leadership Information Exchange meeting about a $160,000,000 project I'm working on. It's something I've never done before. With the help of an interviewer, I filmed 11 people over the next two weeks. Last week a professional editor edited it and it looks great. I'm very proud of it.

What drives you?

Being open to new challenges.

What three objects would you take with you to a desert island?

Where do you hope to be in 10 years’ time?

Winning the Nobel Peace Prize for using mind maps to facilitate a peace plan for some troubled region of the world.

How would you like to be remembered?

As someone who helped make some interesting changes.

What are your favourite memories of your university years at Warwick?

  • Punk rock
  • Studying Hollywood cinema with Andrew Britton
  • Caving, including a month-long Rootes Scholarship expedition I led to the caves of County Clare in Ireland.
Do you have any advice for new graduates?
  • Floss
  • Scrape your tongue
  • Use a Neti Pot
  • Mind Map
  • Climb stairs
  • Volunteer
  • Give blood
  • Practice
    • Loving kindness
    • Yoga
    • Meditation
    • Inversions
  • Be present
  • Travel
  • Plan a sabbatical
  • Learn something new
  • Smile
  • Remember and use people’s names
  • Never use PowerPoint
  • Take breaks
  • Get outside
  • Take risks
  • Embrace new ideas

Anything else you would like to add?

You can connect to me on LinkedIn and follow me on Twitter as DavidHillNYC.

David Hill: the facts
Upper West Side, New York City, USA
Education: BSc. (Honors) Mathematics Warwick 1975-8

    1978- Information Technology

    1997- Mind Mapping Evangelist

    2002 Technology Managers Forum – Technology Innovation Award

    2006 Con Edison - Living Out Values Award

    2011- Change Management Metrics

    2011- Video maker

    Interests: Mind Mapping, Yoga, Stair Climbing, Running, Film