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First, a special thanks to those who made this event possible: the organizer Garrio Harrison, Brent Stickels, and Don Ball.

I recently had the pleasure of listening to The Business Conversation with Brent Stickles and Don Ball. Brent is a Partner at YYES, a design company based out of Minneapolis. Don is the Chief Social Officer at Fueled Collective, a coworking space and social club in downtown Minneapolis.

“I am very low theory and very instinctual and more human than anything.”

– Brent Stickels

Brent had great advice for business owners and doesn’t subscribe to the belief that his organization can be better at everything than everyone else. I found this refreshing as this mindset helps business owners find balance and focus in their industry. YYES has been successful over the last 20 years because they know their strengths and play into them masterfully. Here are the top 10 lessons I learned from Brent and Don’s conversation.

  1. Trust your gut. If a concept doesn’t hit you in the gut it’s not worth anything.
  2. Develop empathy. The human and user experience are more important than anything for creatives.
  3. Let creative ideas sit. Brent said they have a saying in the studio “Is it still funny in the morning?” If something doesn’t last the day it’s better to move on.
  4. Find your strength. It’s not possible to be great at everything, so you should capitalize on what you’re good at.
  5. Be up front with prospects. Clarity will help both you and the prospect realize if you’re the right fit.
  6. Strategy over decoration. If you’re not designing based on strategy, you’re not swinging at a target — you’re just decorating.
  7. Let the client sell to themselves. When you get the client thinking it’s their idea, that’s the Jedi mind trick. They’ll be much happier with the outcome.
  8. CEOs don’t care about the details. As experts, it’s our job to educate and help them turn their idea into reality.
  9. Good ideas come from all over. Great creatives have a knack for listening and interpreting.  Brent shared how his walk in to work takes him past the Walker Art Center, and through the Minneapolis Scultpure Garden. This exposure helps him start every day full of inspiration.
  10. Be open-minded. Open yourself to be influenced by other industries and ideas. That’s when amazing creative work happens.

The Business Conversation is a fantastic event and I encourage business owner’s from all industries to attend. The ideas and inspiration won’t disappoint.


Sign up for the next conversation on the AIGA website.