10 Questions for Erik Hanson

Erik Hanson

Director of Strategic Planning, Wieden + Kennedy NY

Where are you right now?

If by that you mean a physical place and not an emotional one, and if by physical place you mean at this moment in time not my place of employment, I'm at our vacation house upstate NY. It's a couple hours north of the city and we're here just about every weekend. 

Your latest tech must have?

I'm really stretching the boundaries of "must" here, but my Nest thermostats are about the closest I have ever lived to the future.

Your dream breakfast date?

I feel like a breakfast date suggests you mean someone who has some kind of professional wisdom to offer, but I'd have to say Peter Sellers. I laugh when I just think of that guy's voice. I understand he wasn't actually a very nice person but how mean can you be over breakfast?

The best piece of interview advice?

Don't be afraid to say "I don't know". Our tendency is to want to have the perfect answer for absolutely every question, and we often end up inventing things we don't mean or believe. Plus, the interviewer is so flattered at the profoundness of their question that it stalls them just long enough for you to either think of something really smart to say or change the subject. 

What was your favorite subject in school?

Geometry. I hated all other forms of math, but for some reason I couldn't get enough of geometric proofs. My teacher looked and spoke exactly like Elmer Fudd, and i'm not convinced that didn't have something to do with it. 

What is a cause worth fighting for?

Music in schools. Music has been an incredibly important part of my entire life in ways that go far beyond the band room. I think we owe every kid exposure to the arts as part of their education. 

What are you reading right now?

Mostly in-flight magazines. They've gotten good! 

Your favorite get away?

Well it's not one I get to much anymore, but my grandfather built a little cabin on Ottertail Lake in Northern Minnesota that my family would go to when I was growing up that is about as close as it gets to heaven on earth. But my most recent favorite has been a house we rented in the archipelago outside Stockholm. It's stunning there. 

What was your first job?

Picking pumpkins for a local nursery. I was 13. On my first day, they picked me up (and about 5 other unsuspecting suburbanites) from school in a box truck, shut the door and drove us out to the farms where the local kids were waiting for their reinforcements. The local kids were younger than us but much bigger and they were all smoking. One of them ashed in my friend's hair when we got there. I quit that week. 

If you could have a super power, what would it be?

I feel like there is a lot of pressure to be clever here, but anyone who says anything other than flying is lying or just over-thinking it.