Industrial Design + Design Agency Leadership + Creative Confidence with James Howard — DT101 E74

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James Howard is a teacher, design historian, industrial designer, and inventor of over 300 products with 18 patents. He's currently the owner-operator of Entrepreneurial U, a specialty private design school. Prior to teaching at the county college of Morris in New Jersey, Professor Howard was the owner-operator of the award-winning Howard Design Agency, an industrial design practice whose clients included Coca-Cola, Colgate Palmolive, and Johnson & Johnson.

James is also the owner of Cozy Cupboard Tearoom of Morristown, New Jersey. The English-style business has been a regional favorite for over 10 years. James serves as the Executive Director of the Black Inventors Hall of Fame, a virtual museum devoted to immortalizing African-Americans whose noteworthy inventions have improved lives, yet gone unnoticed.

Listen in to learn more about:

  • James’ journey to become an industrial designer
  • The Howard Design Agency
  • James’ years teaching design
  • Entrepreneurial U
  • Growth mindset
  • The power of optimism – in work, and in life

Show Highlights

[01:55] James talks about his journey into design, and his big sister Doris.

[03:11] Entering his first drawing contest as a young boy.

[03:16] The disappointment of not getting into the graphic design program – and James’ shift into industrial design as a result.

[05:31] Challenges James faced during his undergraduate and graduate years.

[08:56] Getting into graduate school.

[10:38] James’ struggles with his first mentor in graduate school.

[12:30] How things changed once he had a strong mentor on his side.

[13:15] Winning a design award from RESNA.

[14:01] His first job as an industrial designer.

[15:49] James’ advice for people dealing with bumps in the road.

[16:49] Why James decided to start his own design agency.

[19:51] 15 years at the Howard Design Agency.

[21:10] How running his own agency changed the way James thought about design.

[23:17] James offers advice on how to make a good pitch.

[26:42] The decision to leave his design agency and begin teaching.

[30:59] Founding Entrepreneurial U.

[32:09] James talks about the Bridge program, which helps adults change career pathways.

[32:51] The importance of cultivating a growth mindset.

[33:51] James as the perpetual optimist, and passing that optimism on to his students.

[36:16] Doodling as a second language, to tell stories and convey ideas.

[38:07] Resources James recommends.

[41:18] Where to find out more about James and his work.

[42:30] The Black Inventors’ Hall of Fame.

[46:20] Fluid Hive’s resources for those wanting to learn and practice design thinking.

Links

James on LinkedIn

Entrepreneurial U

Black Inventors’ Hall of Fame

A Conversation with James Howard, Perpetual Optimist

The History of Black Industrial Designers

Book Recommendation: Marketing for the Small Design Firm, by Jim Morgan

Book Recommendation: Who Moved My Cheese: An A-Mazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life, by Spencer Johnson

Book Recommendation: Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us, by Tom Kelley and David Kelley

Book Recommendation: Rebel Talent: Why It Pays to Break the Rules at Work and in Life, by Francesca Gino

Book Recommendation: The Universal Traveler, by James Bagnell and Don Koberg

Other Design Thinking 101 Episodes You Might Like

Learning Service Design + Leading Service Transformation with Clive Grinyer — DT101 E66

Integrating Engineering, Design and Business with Tony Hu — DT101 E35

Leading a Design Thinking Consultancy, Betting Small to Win Big, and Driving Business Growth with Design Thinking with Natalie Foley — DT101 E5

Other Resources

Download Fluid Hive's Innovation Shield — a guide to avoiding innovation traps by asking 9 of Fluid Hive's Design Thinking Questions

Innovation Smart Start Webinar — Learn to Ask Like a Designer and take your innovation projects from frantic to focused by working smart from the start.

Fluid Hive: Learn — A growing collection of courses, webinars, and articles for people expanding their design thinking, service design, and human-centered design skills – people who want to think and solve like a designer.

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