It’s Monday. I’m back in Lauderdale after the 2009 HOW Design Conference
. This was my first time speaking at HOW
and, for that matter, my first time attending. It was, in a word, brilliant. The HOW staff went above and beyond to put on a memorable, educational and overall fun event in Austin.
I arrived in Austin on Wednesday. En route, I realized I had left my watch on my dresser and my mobile phone in the car. “Gee,” me thinks, “I’m off to a great start.” Fortunately, I was able to have my phone overnighted to my hotel.
I went to the Austin Convention Center
directly from the airport to check in and ensure that my presentation was all in working order. I’m not real big on Powerpoint. It seems I always have font issues. So, I did up the visuals as a Flash slideshow and saved it as an swf and also as Mac and PC projectors. I also saved the native FreeHand file as a pdf, just in case. I popped the files on a CD, two flash drives and also put it on my server. Paranoid? Me, paranoid? As it turned out, I used the pdf as a full screen presentation. Flash didn’t want to play nice come the day of the show. Typical.
While I was checking things Wednesday in the Speaker Ready Room, Jonathan Gouthier, of With Creative
, stopped in to check his presentation. In a case of “really, really small world,” it turned out that Jonathan knows my stepbrother and his wife. How weird is that? Given that Austin’s motto is “Keep Austin Weird,” I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised.
As I wandered aimlessly around the main floor a bit later, who should I run into but fellow speaker and friend, Toots Caboose
, a.k.a. Jeff Fisher of Jeff Fisher Logomotives
. I hadn’t seen Jeff in quite a while and it was good to hook up.
Next, it was time to check into the Radisson
, a couple of blocks from the convention center. In a fortuitous turn of events, my room wasn’t quite ready. The desk attendant was on the phone and I overheard, “... Okay, I have you set up in a smoking room ...” Truth be told, I smoke. Yeah, yeah ... I know. But this time it worked to my favor. I said to the desk attendant, “Gee, if I had known you had smoking rooms, I would have booked one.” She said, “Oh, you’d like a smoking room? No problem. Because I forgot to ask, I’ll give you a BIG smoking room.” Such a delightful young lady. And boy, she was true to her word.
I went up to my 8th floor home for the next several days, opened the door and walked into a corner, sun-drenched suite. Sweet! It had a living room, kitchen, large bathroom and a bedroom, complete with a king size Sleep Number™
bed. It also had three two-line phones, two desks and two large screen television sets. “Yeah, this’ll work,” thinks me. As a matter of fact, I made a conscious point on Friday to sit in the living room and watch something mindless on the tube, just so I could feel like HOW got their money’s worth.
Wednesday night’s opening reception was a lot of fun and I had the opportunity to meet several great folks. I had been up since 3:30 AM and by the time I finished the day, I was so ready to crash on that comfy bed.
Thursday was presentation day. I was scheduled for 10:45 - Noon. Sadly, Von Glitschka, of Glitschka Studios
, was speaking next door in the same time slot, Jonathan’s was around the corner and Peleg Top
was speaking a few rooms down. I really wanted to hear all of them.
My session was titled, Consultative Selling for Graphic Designers
. I figured this would be about as exciting to many designers as watching paint dry, but a topic they, and especially independents and small shops, needed to learn. I was pleasantly surprised when the room filled up.
Many, many thanks and bows at the feet of Katie Dehner, HOW's crackerjack copywriter who creates all the conference materials and, no doubt, a lot more. Katie helped me get the room set up and made sure all was well with session. She and her HOW cohorts also w0-manned the conference registration desk, answered all my silly questions and ensured I didn't get lost in the place.
Design diva, Debbie Millman
, also showed up. I’m thinking, “Wow. Debbie Millman at my presentation? Who would have thought?” As it turned out, Debbie introduced me with some gracious words.
The session went well and even ran a wee bit over. But, the lunch break was next, so that worked out. I had lots of great questions from the audience after my talk.
Later that afternoon, I had the chance to catch Ilise Benun’s
session, Do You Have What It Takes to be a Successful Freelancer,?
along with help from her Marketing Mentor
partner, Peleg Top. The session was excellent. I’d worked with Ilise on a few projects over the years, but we’d never met in the flesh before. It was great to have the chance to talk for a bit with her and Peleg.
Friday it was Behind the Scenes with Hoops & Yoyo,™
with creators, Mike Adair, Bev Carlson and Bob Holt and Logo Design from Texas to New York
, by Felix Sockwell
Later that afternoon, I couldn’t miss Jeff Fisher’s session, Why Pay for It When You Can Get It for Free?
presented a great talk, as expected, covering marketing and promotion techniques, along with using social networking. The bonus was watching him speak while wearing his Toots Caboose clown nose. (Sorry, Jeff. I couldn't resist adding the image)
Friday evening was all about the BBQ. I joined Karen Larson, of Larson Mirek Design
, Jeni Herberger
, of Jeni Herberger Creative Concepts and Big Fish
, Steve Gordan, of RDQLUS Creative
and, of course, the always delightful Mr. Fisher at Iron Works BBQ
. Great food and conversation.
Saturday, I listened to Wayne Geyer
’s, Write More Good: Copywriting for Visual Thinkers
. It was a thought-provoking session and I learned a lot. That was follow by a stellar closing keynote address by World Studios
,’ Mark Randell, titled Design Ignites Change
Sadly, the conference was at a close. Jeff and I hooked up for lunch and shared a taxi to the airport. Austin-Bergstrom International Airport seemed like HOW: Part Two with HOWies scurrying hither and yon.
All in all, it was an excellent experience. If you get the chance, try to swing over to Denver for next year’s conference. You’ll be glad you did.
Labels: consultative selling, Designer Conference, How Design Conference, HOW Magazine, neil tortorella