Our Q&A with Sam Harrison

Twitter was super slow today, but my conversation there with Sam Harrison — HOW book author, conference speaker and all-around fantastic guy — was nonetheless interesting. As you’d expect from a guy who’s written books titled IdeaSpotting and IdeaSelling. Here’s a recap of our Q&A:

First, Sam, tell us a bit about you: work you do, where you’re located, anything else you want folks to know.
Speaker/writer on creativity. Live near ATL in eco-friendly, artistic community. Crazy in love w/ HOW staff girls.

You’ve written 2 books for HOW, IdeaSpotting and IdeaSelling. Which is harder: finding or selling an idea?
Most creative folks say selling ideas is harder than having ideas by a long shot.

Creative people are seldom taught to sell, and we think ideas should sell themselves. They don’t.

What’s the biggest obstacle designers face when convincing a client/manager of their idea?
Conveying the idea’s true value and getting clients to let go of existing ideas in order to pick up the new idea.

You need to connect the idea to their wants/needs & build relationship. Selling isn’t rocket science, it’s rapport science.

Give us a good strategy for sidestepping/averting/overcoming a ‘No’ in response to your idea.
Handguns? OK—anticipate objections, then refine your idea and pitch to deal with them.

If you still get objection, pause before responding, agree that you understand their concerns, and ask questions to dig deeper.

In IdeaSpotting, you write about the ideal traits of an idea-spotter. What are the top 3?
Curious tops the list in every study. I’d rank flexible and persistent as the next two.

How can designers train themselves to be observant, to listen, to spot those great ideas?
Get off auto-pilot. Explore. Inquire. Curiosity = creativity.

Also, get out of ruts—ask yourself: “Does what I’m doing inspire me or tire me?”

I’m amazed by your own level of creative energy. How do YOU stay inspired & energized?
I learned early to amuse myself—a secret of creative energy! Explore. Watch. Read. Ask. Travel. Dream. Play.

Yes, and I work to stay childlike (not childish). Play, laugh, not take self to seriously—and have sense of awe.

What have you seen/heard/done/eaten lately that has blown your mind?
Natalie Merchant’s new album where she puts poems to music/vocals (and includes a wonderful book). So creative.

While in NYC next week I’ll see the play RED about Rothko—I’ve heard great things about it.

What can folks look forward to in your HOW Conference sessions in Denver?
Can’t wait! Expect fun, interaction and lots of quick, meaty tips on winning ways to pitch ideas. Don’t miss it!

Posted by Bryn