It’s All About the Relationships: Inside HOW Design Live

Many HOW Design Live attendees head to the conference every year! It’s the place where they—and their teams—gather to recharge their creativity for the next 12 months, get the tools they need to perform even better, reconnect with friends, make new career connections and much more. So it’s essential that we keep our content fresh and engaging. That’s the important role played by our HOW Design Live Program partners. We asked the masterminds behind the 2017 program to share what HOW Design Live means to them and reveal some details about what we have in store for you when you join us in Chicago. This week we talked to Ilise Benun. Previously we interviewed Debbie Millman and Andrew Gibbs. Stay tuned for our upcoming conversation with Zac Petit! And remember you only have until midnight on February 1 to save big on HOW Design Live 2017 so register today!

Why did you agree to be a HOW Design Live Program Partner?

Ilise Benun: I’ve been working in the design industry since I wrote my first article for HOW Magazine more than 20 years ago, and with each year I’ve taken on more responsibility. Over the years, I have been developing a vision about the practical business skills a designer must have to thrive in the 21st century. So I feel lucky (and grateful) to be in a position to deliver on that vision as a member of the programming team of the largest design conference. And I see it as both an opportunity I couldn’t not seize and a natural evolution of my career.

What does How Design Live mean to you?

Ilise Benun: HOW has a special place in my heart….it represents many firsts in my career, as I imagine it does for so many designers who’ve attended the conference. I have HOW to thank for my first article, my first speaking gig, my first (and 2nd and 3rd) books, and my first conference

HOW Design Live is all about the relationships and I love that the conference brings together a real community of creative people who care and go out of their way to help each other. Even though I’m not a designer, I have always felt included and warmly welcomed—as if these are “my people”—which in this virtual age is not easy to find.


Why did you select certain speakers for this year’s program?

Ilise Benun: For 2017, my role has expanded beyond the Creative Entrepreneur topics. Together with Zac Petit, I was tasked with programming the “how-to” breakout sessions, which is a perfect fit for me as I am all about practical skills.

Networking is one of those essential skills to be constantly improving if you want to keep your career on track. So early in the conference, I’m giving a session on how to do “21st century networking.” That way, attendees can immediately implement what they learn!

Also, we’ve added a series of Workshops and Master Classes to give attendees a chance to dig in and get hands-on with topics such as:

  • Sketch-noting with Mike Rohde (literally, the guy who wrote the book on it)
  • Web design tools for print designers
  • Hand-lettering
  • What UX Really Is and How to Do It.

And I wasn’t kidding when I said “how-to”—here are a few of the breakout sessions we have planned:

  • How to build a human-centered culture
  • How to create effective creative briefs
  • How to communicate your best ideas
  • How to choose the right CMS
  • How to get into shoppers’ heads with AR & VR

What highlights of the 2017 program are you most excited about?

Ilise Benun: I can’t wait for the Get Better Clients Bootcamp, a ½ day intensive Master Class which my company, Marketing Mentor, is co-presenting with HOW Design Live on Day One. The premise is simple. The top question for creative entrepreneurs at all levels, from solopreneurs to agency owners, is, “How do we get better clients?”

So that’s the question every speaker will answer, with a simple strategy that can be easily implemented. In fact, the schedule for the event doubles as a marketing plan!

At the end of that jam-packed morning, we’ll have a Speaker Q&A and, of course, plenty of time for networking.

What are the benefits of attending HOW Design Live every year?

Ilise Benun: In two words, it comes down to learning and networking. It is absolutely essential to be constantly networking over the course of your career and often, unless you force yourself to do it, it doesn’t happen. But if you commit to attending this one industry event every year, you’ve got a built-in way to stay up to date on the lightning speed changes in technology and to renew old friendships, as well as make new friends you can call on for feedback, references, resources and guidance.