I'm leaving HOW with a profound respect for a group that simply wants to leave the world more beautiful than it was before.
I took a step into the Hynes Convention Hall, mentally preparing for four-days of sessions, keynotes, and research. As someone that considers himself a technical creator aspiring to help creatives, this was an important opportunity to research and better understand my clients and their needs. I walked in expecting new strategies and processes, but left with something else entirely.
A little about myself: I’m a Product Manager for inMotionNow, a company that provides workflow management solutions for creative and marketing teams. My job is to create the strategy and vision for product development, which is just a fancy way of saying that I work with an incredible team of designers, developers, and testers to make new features for our clients to use in their day-to-day process. I research, invent, prioritize, plan, and coordinate with my team to continue to deliver improvements that our users love.
As a Product Manager, a typical conference for me focuses on ways to improve in various areas of my craft. I wear more hats than I can count, and in a position that’s starting to blossom into a necessity in the industry, I’m constantly seeking new ideas and best practices. How can I make a feature that someone needs? Where should I focus on the next opportunity to delight a customer? And process can’t be stated enough. Process, process, process.
Let me paint you a picture of what I saw that first day at HOW: dyed hair, coffee, and colored pens. So. Many. Pens. Professionals young and old walked the halls with confidence and swagger, a true definition of a group that understood what it meant to be industry leaders. But this wasn’t a group that was looking for new and exciting ways to do the work they love. No, this was a group that wanted to be heard. They wanted to be open. They wanted to be inspired.
I went in with jaded expectations, which were quickly dismissed when I started to notice the little details. A woman writing with five different pens to organize her notes to her standards. A man choosing the best filter for the picture he just took of a PowerPoint slide. Another knitting during a keynote. Knitting! It probably shouldn’t have come as a surprise that every creative wants to keep being creative, regardless of venue or subject, but it did. This was not my normal world, yet I quickly became intrigued and felt an incredible desire to study every person I heard and saw.
While the people really jolted my initial expectations, it was the sessions and keynotes that drew my attention most. These (mostly) weren’t detailed presentations on how to manage work and improve output; these were emotional, raw, and intimate discussions to make the creative not only feel accepted, but empowered. Creatives want to hear stories about traits like passion and vulnerability. Alex Center spoke about failure and the importance of learning from it, but caring about what you do is the real driver to create incredibly. The sessions were spread out over the days, but the message was clear: Be unapologetic. Be tenacious. Be you in every sense of the word.
Never have I seen a group so enraptured in the words of their peers. They were voracious for more, and every speaker left the crowd feeling more spirited and focused than I’d ever seen. This was an incredible sight – people wanted to share and listen. They wanted to live every experience. The word “therapy” was used more than once. Adam J. Kurtz literally makes a living talking about his feelings in a humorous yet meaningful way for the world to enjoy. By taking a chance and being vulnerable with his work and subject matter, he was able to have fun and make a name for himself. “Anyone can do this,” he said. Those words resonated throughout the entire conference.
I went into HOW Design Live with a desire to learn more about the industry and needs that creatives have. I went in as an outsider, and I’m leaving with a profound respect for a group that simply wants to leave the world more beautiful than it was before. And more importantly, I’m leaving with a clear message:
You have the power to create something more important than anything else: your purpose.
Josh Trauberman is the Product Manager for inMotion’s core Project Intake, Project Management, and Reporting tools. As a Certified Scrum Product Owner, he pulls from his extensive background in sales, support, and product development to create solutions that marketing and creative teams love.