I’ll just put it out there: Sam Harrison is one of my favorite people, full stop. Here’s a little Q&A with Sam to help you get to know him better before he presents two big sessions at HOW Design Live—at the HOW Design Conference and the InHOWse Managers Conference.
When did you first realize you wanted to enter a creative industry?
My mother was a theater major, tap dancer and banjo player. So when I was a little kid, she would round up my playmates and me once or twice a week for what she called an Expressions Session. We would crowd into her tiny music room for songs and poems, dance steps and theater skits. At first we hated being pulled away from hide-and-seek and ballgames, but over time we looked forward to the sessions. And I eventually developed an everlasting love for all things creative.
How have you applied your creativity to business over the years?
Hey, applying creativity to business is a great career path for anybody too lazy to work and too restless to sit still. I’ve been in branding, creative services, event planning, product development, consumer catalogs and marketing communications, to name a few directions. And I’ve worked with clients and affiliates such as NFL, Major League Baseball, Hallmark, John Denver Environmental Groups, Hasbro and American Express.
During the last several years, I’ve focused on helping people express and expand their creativity. I speak and provide workshops, write books and articles and teach at Portfolio Center, a graduate-studies program for creatives. (Editor’s note: Check out Sam’s HOW books, IdeaSpotting and IdeaSelling.)
If you weren’t in this field, what would you be doing?
I liked the answer Glenn John Arnowitz gave about being a dog. Especially if I could be a dog in the Bryn and Rob Mooth household—heck, your dog even gets a travel allowance, right? (Editor’s note: Peroni gets to go on roadtrips, but she doesn’t, you know, get any money.)
But I think I would also being a chef. Or a photojournalist. Or a museum director. Or Charlie Rose—what a great job he has, getting to interview the best and brightest people each and every day.
Can you tell us a little more about your Conference general session?
A key reason designers flock to the HOW Conference is because it gives opportunities to recharge creative batteries and load up fresh inspiration. So my session is designed to do just that—provide energetic inspiration to help participants fire neurons and boost creativity. We’ll have lots of fun and jump-start the first morning of the conference.
And you’re also speaking at the inHOWse Conference?
That’s right—I’ll be talking about how designers and in-house teams can better present and sell their ideas to bosses and internal clients. Good ideas definitely don’t sell themselves—in fact, the bolder and fresher the idea, the more it needs selling. We’re asking decision makers to let go of the status quo and grab something new and probably risky for them. This takes selling—and my session provides tips and techniques to make that happen.