Whipsaw Co-Founder Dan Harden on Taking Risk and Facing Fear

Dan Harden, Whipsaw

Dan Harden, Whipsaw

Fast Company named designer Dan Harden one of its 2014’s 100 Most Creative People in business. This week, the co-founder and CEO of Whipsaw shares what to do with risk and fear and how to put your personality into your work.

Sam's Dream Blog: Designs must stand out. What is your advice in terms of taking risk and demonstrating passion in a productive way, rather than for the sake of taking risk for risk’s sake?

Dan Harden: First of all, some designs should not stand out. Some need to blend into an experience so the user can go about their business without something screaming at them. Most design problems can only be solved by taking risks. If the risky answer is right, it's more risky not to do it.

SDB: How do you advise putting personality into one’s work?

Dan Harden: Good design often exudes its own personality. That can come from either finding its internal essence and giving that essence a voice... or putting your own personality into a design. Putting your own personality into a design can work if your product needs attitude (like an aggressive boxing glove or a piece of fashion), but you have to be careful when doing that on a serious piece of equipment like an ultrasound scanner where function, safety, and usability trump personality.

SDB: What are traits to look for and to stay away from when assembling a team?

Dan Harden: We seek smart go-getters with tons of passion and talent; we avoid the opposite.

SDB: I have read that you advise getting rid of all fear.  How do you get rid of fear?

Dan Harden: Fear in context of creativity is not having the courage to try something different for fear of judgment or failure. Once you witness the success gained from creatively reaching, the fear simply vanishes.

Learn more about Dan Harden and Whipsaw here, and check back for the next Sam’s Dream Blog post on Tue., March 17