Things That Make You Go “OMG” at #HOWLive

The momentum is indeed in full swing at HOW Design Live 2014 (#HOWLive), happening as I type in Boston. Nearly 4,000 of the most creative minds are here, and you can certainly feel their energy – whether they’re one of the ecstatic attendees, dynamic speakers or enthusiastic sponsors.

This is my sixth HOW Design Live, and each year I look to the attendees to gauge how the event is resonating and what’s sticking with people. I do this through a very (un)scientific method: I listen. That’s right. Whether I’m waiting in line for the ladies room, grabbing my coffee during breakfast roundtables, scrolling through twitter or eavesdropping on the escalator, I want to know where the OMG moments are happening.

Well here they are – “the HOW Live scoop,” if you will, from my vantage point on Tuesday and early Wednesday sessions/happenings:

OMG Moment No. 1: “Dance with the Fear”
Seth Godin, best selling author, entrepreneur and marketing maven, hit the nail on the head when he said “We chose a career that has built-in anxiety. … anxiety is experiencing failure in advance.” He spoke straight to the inner critic, nervous nellie in all of us. Then he challenged thousands of creatives to dance at once with resistance and fear (because it’ll never go away), but it’s always a choice to push yourself forward. Attendees, including myself, walked a little bit taller as they exited this session and twitter was all abuzz…

Picture taken by @angilio #HOWLive

Picture taken by @angilio #HOWLive

OMG Moment No. 2: Stanley Hainsworth’s Hair
My most immediate reaction upon seeing Stanley Hainsworth and his signature doo, was that it’s even more magnificent in person, and so is he. It’s clear that the man practices what he preaches in terms of storytelling and branding, as well as motivating a creative team. The audience was transfixed on Hainsworth as he told his story, not just because of the hair. “We are the stories we tell,” proclaims Hainsworth.



photo courtesy of @tomguarriello Wow. Stanley Hainsworth session at #HOWLive was…what…amazing is way too tepid.

OMG Moment No. 3: Spectacular, Spectacular
When the opening party (sponsored by Mohawk) erupted last night, it was like the Resource Center was transformed into a big top circus. A beautiful butterfly creature among others paraded the floor on stilts. A robot painted like Picasso. Looking around, designers were smiling like kids on a cotton candy high. They walked away with armloads of swag, including notebooks, posters, T-shirts and more. Some even sported new ink, courtesy of Mohawk.

Instagram shots courtesy of Nicholas Nawroth

OMG Moment No. 4: Bob Gill Sightings
Legendary American illustrator, graphic designer and Pentagram co-founder Bob Gill is in the house at HOW Design Live and has been spotted everywhere from the resource center to moseying in the halls. Sappi Fine Paper North America has partnered with Gill (along with VSA) on a series of posters that he’ll be signing in the Sappi booth from 5:30-6:45 pm today (Wednesday). Gill will also be delivering a keynote talk from 2-3 pm on Thursday, titled “Design as Ideas.”


OMG Moment No. 5: Brain Pickings‘ Maria Popova says to “Show Up”
The eloquent and exquisite Maria Popova, founder of renowned site Brain Pickings, delivered an insightful and inspiring opening keynote on Tuesday evening, divulging her secret to tapping into one’s optimal creativity: “The act of showing up is the simple persistence upon which any body of work depends,” tweets Margot Bloomstein, another stellar HOW Design Live speaker (brand/content strategist), from Popova’s session.

OMG Moment No. 6: “Tell Your Face”
Sam Harrison, professional creativity guru, aims to help creatives be heard within their organizations by coaching them to sell their ideas. Truth be told, most great ideas never come to fruition because they’re not properly sold to decision makers. Kansas City-based designer Cami Travis-Groves says that her jaw dropped as the frank words flew out of Sam’s mouth: “Tell your face!” That’s right! He notes that most people are unaware of how their facial expressions do them no favors when presenting in front of said decision makers, so make sure that not only your words, but your expressions as well, are helping your cause.

There’s so much happening at once at HOW Design Live and it’s impossible to capture it all here. Please share on Twitter using #HOWLive what your OMG moment has been.