Recently Mike and I flew to Boston for a 5-day design binge at the 2014 HOW Design Conference, one of the largest gatherings for creative professionals around. This year’s impressive list of speakers included cultural luminaries like Malcolm Gladwell and Seth Godin, design legends Bob Gill and Stefan Sagmeister, and boundary pushers like Johnny Cupcakes. It was a rich experience to say the least. If you work in the creative industry in any capacity, there was something for you.
To take in everything at an event of this magnitude is impossible — overwhelming even. But the real reward comes from being able to take away something, no matter how large or small, that improves your life in some specific way. We walked away with a few nuggets and thought we’d share a snapshot of them here.
1. Better, not more.
You’ve probably heard of best-selling author Seth Godin. He writes and speaks about all kinds of ideas on changing the way we do almost everything for the better. Witnessing him dispense wisdom was a highlight for me personally. During his keynote he mentioned the concept of doing “better, not more.” Those words grabbed me by the throat because it’s a reminder to stop and ask oneself what more can be done before moving on to the next thing. The takeaway is that you can produce and produce to your heart’s content, but if you haven’t truly invested yourself in whatever it is you’re doing, it’s unlikely to have real, lasting impact. In the end that’s what we’re all working towards.
2. Do what you love.
Johnny Cupcakes is a food-themed clothing brand started in 2001 by entrepreneurial whiz Johnny Earle. That doesn’t sound like much until you realize how far the idea is pushed and how much heart goes into it. The brand is known for constant innovation when it comes to delivering their products. Fast-food themed t-shirts may come wrapped in custom hamburger wrappers. It’s offbeat, but memorable.
During his presentation, Johnny Cupcakes threw up a slide that read “Real success is being happy doing what you love.” The company doesn’t see revenue as a measure of success. Their focus is on surprising customers with fresh experiences — an area they have mastered. Countless other brands stop at merely throwing a shirt in a bag and calling it good. The extra mile is scary and incalculable to them. When you get real happiness out of what you do, the passion shows and you gift the world with great things.
We’re frequently told throughout our lives that we should work hard and do what we love, but all too often we forget to stop and remind ourselves how truly rewarding that can be.
It’s thrilling and inspiring to be surrounded by thousands of people who share your interests, goals and daily struggles. Hearing firsthand from the best minds in the industry as they spoke passionately about their experiences and innovations gave us a spark of inspiration to further push the boundaries of what we do in our own work everyday. Returning from the HOW Design Conference, out of that bubble, I have a renewed sense of the importance of what we do here at Jajo, and how we can set our work apart from the herd that is advertising.