Revolutionary: Keynote Speaker Simon T. Bailey

I was excited to connect with Simon T. Bailey, the closing keynote speaker for this year’s HOW Design Live in Boston. I didn’t know Simon—but when I visited his website and blog, I discovered that he’s the ideal HOW closing speaker: Passionate, sharp, dedicated to inspiring people like you and me to get out of a slump and over the hump.

Simon is a speaker, business coach and author of the best-selling book “Release Your Brilliance,” among other titles. He speaks to Fortune 1000 companies, but it’s clear that he understands creative people, not just business types. We talked about the challenges that creative pros face in their careers: burnout, the uphill fight for a seat at the strategic table, the unique traits that set designers apart from accountants and salespeople.

Our Skype conversation got me excited to meet Simon in Boston. I asked him first to talk about his background; I wanted to know, what in his experience gave him the knowledge and insight that he shares with audiences and clients. His career spans 25 years in the hospitality industry—notably, seven years at Disney, including a role as sales director at The Disney Institute. “That job became the stepping stone for what I’m doing now,” he says. “In 1999, Disney sent me to Paris to develop a leadership program for Barclays Bank. And I had an epiphany. I asked myself three questions: What would you do if you couldn’t fail? What would you do if no one paid you to do it? What makes you really come alive?”

Those three questions led Simon to, as he says, “leave the happiest place in the world” and set up his own speaking and leadership consulting firm—and they’re also the foundation of his work with clients.

Through his writing and his Brilliance Institute, he helps people tap into their true gifts. “A job is what you’re paid to do, but releasing your brilliance is what you’re made to do. It’s your potential, your passion, your genius. When you love what you do, it’s a convergence of your passion, your purpose and your presence.

“Brilliance is released in an environment where you’re celebrated rather than tolerated,” he says. (A statement that may resonate with you creatives working in corporate settings.) If not? “I’m going to get under your skin, light the fire—until you have that moment and decide it’s time to take it to another level.”

I asked him to share a bit of what he’ll be speaking about during his HOW Design Live keynote. What guidance will he offer attendees, to keep everyone fired up as they head back to their desks following the conference?

There are three questions that creatives ask themselves: Is this it? Why are we doing this? Is there a better way?

“Those three questions get you on a path of discovery. Being a seeker of the unknown, being curious about everything is the hallmark of what you do. And then, what are the practical steps that you can take every day to engage, immerse and learn the new new in what you’re creating?

“As a practical take-away, I’d first challenge you to look at the questions you’re asking. Are you asking from a defensive standpoint, or asking to build a bridge?

“Next, I’d challenge you to see yourself as the CEO of Me, Incorporated. You are responsible for your own professional development. Can you, for example, build a group of subject-matter experts who can teach and guide you?”

Simon is soon to head out on a book tour to support “The Vuja-De Moment”—due out soon. (The idea here is not, “been there, done that” but rather, “going there, doing that.”)

You can meet up with Simon and chat with him on the HOW Design Conference Facebook page. Or find him on Twitter: @simontbailey.

You’ll want to hear more of what Simon Bailey has to say at HOW Design Live in Boston. Be sure to register THIS WEEK to save money—Early Bird registration ends at midnight on April 30 (that’s Monday). No more extensions, we swear!

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