What’s YOUR Design Live, Sam Harrison?

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If you’ve attended a HOW Design Live event sometime in the past decade, you’ve probably seen Sam Harrison on stage. Harrison is a conference programmer’s dream: the ideal mix of actionable, inspiring information wrapped up in an entertaining presentation.

One of the major changes coming to HOW Design Live in 2014 is the opportunity to seamlessly move among sessions and programs. Feel like a little web design inspiration in the morning, followed by an in-the-trenches session on freelancing in the afternoon? Easy. It’s never been this easy to create a totally customized program that gives you exactly the conference experience you want. So, what’s YOUR Design Live?

The Completely Customized HOW Design Conference 2014

Because he’s so engaged with the event, we asked Harrison to tell us about HIS Design Live—to give us a ride-along as he experiences the event. Here’s what he had to say:

First, Sam, tell us a little about what you’re up to these days. What’s keeping you busy?Well, I’m traveling around giving talks and workshops on creativity and on presentation skills. I’m working on several special projects and book-related ventures, and continuing to contribute to Fast Company, HOW and other pubs. Those activities, plus arts-related boards and nonprofit causes, should keep me out of trouble in 2014.

You’re speaking in Boston on Day 3 of the conference, right smack in the middle of the event. Will you be arriving earlier and/or staying beyond your presentation?I’m trying not to schedule speaking gigs on either side of HOW Live so I can be there for the entire event. I actually speak twice: a general session “Zooming Into Your Creative Zing Zone” on Wednesday and a session for the In-House Management Conference, “Selling Ideas to Decision-Makers” on Thursday.

I’ll also attend lots of sessions—this year’s speaker lineup is unbelievable. And, of course, I want to hang out with fellow speakers and attendees. Love the HOW crowd.

HOW21 2, HOW Design Conference, HOW Design Live 2014

What was your very first HOW Design Conference like? What was your first impression of the event?My first conference was in 2004. The summer prior, I had contributed my first article to HOW and as a result was invited to speak at the San Diego conference.

I clearly remember the opening-night keynote. I remember the feeling of sitting in the middle of so many creative people and the creative energy filling that ballroom. Since 2004, I’ve presented at HOW every year except one.

I speak at dozens of conferences and meetings every year, and HOW Design Live is my absolute favorite. It’s extremely well-organized, packed with compelling sessions and attended by folks who are passionate about design and creativity. What’s not to love?

Looking at the 2014 program, is there a session or sessions that you’re especially eager to see?Whew! I have a long list. I definitely want to hear headliners like Gladwell and Godin, Paola Antonelli and Maria Popova. And for sure I’ll catch the talks of long-time buddies like Peleg Top, Stefan Mumaw, Ilise Benun, riCardo Crespo, Justin Ahrens, David Sherwin, Andy Epstein. They never fail to deliver smart presentations.

How will you gear up for your presentations, and how will you decompress afterward?Good question. When I give talks on speaking and pitching ideas, I suggest that presenters spend time absorbing the energy of their audiences. That’s easy to do at HOW with creative energy so vivid you can reach out and touch it.

And I always try to sneak away by myself for a half-hour or so before any presentation to make sure I get my mind centered and focused on what I’m about to say.

As for decompressing afterwards, maybe I’ll hunt down the biggest lobster in Boston.

HOW3; HOW Design Conference, Sam Harrison

Sam Harrison as keynote speaker at HOW Design Live.

Is there a particular moment or experience you’ve had at a HOW event that sticks with you?Delivering the opening keynote in 2012 was amazing—looking out at 4,000 energized attendees (who tossed out 4,000 colorful paper airplanes along with me!) was a fantastic experience.

Also, I love it when attendees come up after I speak or stop me in hallways to say hello or ask a question. All HOW speakers I know feel the same way. So I suggest HOW participants approach any speaker they want to meet. Such connectivity is one of the greatest benefits of the HOW conference.

What’s YOUR Design Live?I’m going to follow my own advice and reach out to some speakers and attendees I’ve not met. I’ll also try to sit in on as many sessions as possible. And I’ll nose around the exhibit hall looking at new stuff.

As I plan to mention in my Zing Zone session, curiosity is jet fuel to creativity. If I stay obsessively curious while at HOW Design Live, I’ll discover inspiration, meet good people and have a great time.

HOW Design LIVE 2014, HOW Design Conference

Catch Sam Harrison’s presentations at the HOW Design Conference and In-House Management Conference, part of HOW Design Live 2014. Browse the program and build your own conference agenda, and register before February 11 to save.