Nate Voss

Fresh Faces: HOW Conference Interviews

Written by in Profiles


Part Two in our HOW Conference “Newbies” series, brings us to funny man Nate Voss out of Omaha, NE. Part of the popular Reflex Blue Show, Nate brings us his perspective on balancing the fun of HOW Conference with processing the massive amounts of information (and other goodies) received.

Name: Nate Voss
Visual Storyteller, Vossome | |

What was your motivation for attending the HOW Conference?

Being friends with HOW social-king Steve RDQlus Gordon puts a lot of pressure on a man to get himself to that particular party, so I had wanted to go for years. Last year our show had done some on-the-down-low recordings from the Conference and the HOW team caught wind of it and liked what we were doing. This year they invited us out to do it for reals, and gave us super-fancy “media” badges and all kinds of access that we would not have had normally.

How did you manage the intimidation factor of a first time appearance at HOW Conference?

You basically find someone’s coattails to ride. There’s sort of a train that goes through there. I ride Steve’s coattails, Steve rides Justin Ahrens’, Justin rides Jeff Fisher’s, and Jeff just sorta drags us all behind him like the original theatrical poster for Goonies.

What went through your mind as you walked into the Resource Center on Opening Night?

MADNESS! People need to seriously reconsider their moral alignment of getting free Veer shirts versus fracturing the ribcages of their fellow designers. I took a more measured approach, since by the time I got anywhere worth going in the resource center whatever was there to be the reason to be there was no longer there, and instead picked up “drinks.” The next day, when the cacophony (thanks to Kevin Carroll for giving me that Scrabble word) had died down and I could peruse with more purpose. I had limited suitcase room! I couldn’t grab everything.

What was your favorite session at the conference? Or, your favorite interview for The Reflex Blue show?

There really are too many to count. Nancy Duarte and David Berman gave two of the most inspiring, though radically different, presentations I saw. We didn’t get to sit down one-on-one with Nancy, however. During the Creative Freelancer Conference, Dyana Valentine completely redefined how I view myself and business in the span of about 45 minutes, something I’ve struggled with for more than two years now. My favorite interviews for The Reflex Blue show (airing on as well as via subscription on iTunes) were Russell Brown from Adobe, who off-the-mic was even more energetic than he was on-the-mic; the inspirational, motivating, moving Kevin Carroll (who is now following me on Twitter!); and of course the, illustrious, illuminating, luminous and luscious Debbie Millman, who has been a close friend for years now and I can call her luscious if I want to.

Did you purchase any books from the HOW bookstore as a result of hearing a speaker?

Yes. During the Creative Freelance Conference I heard Shell Perkins speak about running a business and immediately immediately went to the bookstore to pick up Talent is Not Enough I didn’t even stay for his Q&A, but we did a one-on-one with him later for the The Reflex Blue Show.

What did you do while you were in Denver outside of the HOW Conference?

We went to Walgreens, I think? And many bars. Also, at one point there were like, 50 of us in a van being taken advantage of by the driver, who obviously knew the bars closed at 2:00 but was willing to take our money and drive us around anyway. Not affiliated with HOW or people with moral compasses.

Anyone interesting or anyone you feel like you will keep in touch with after the conference?

You’re kidding right? Of course! But far too too too many to note here. I would forget one person and they’d hate me forever.

What are your plans for keeping inspiration alive after the HOW Conference?

Before I left, actually several days before wrapping up, it hit me how important the information I was getting at HOW would be to both my career and my life when I got back home. I started a list and a plan during break times on how to make actionable items out of it. If I show up in Chicago next summer and my business is not a raging success I’ll officially have no-one to blame but myself. And Steve Gordon.

I think the biggest thing to remember, for me, is setting those intermittent goals that are the stepping stones to your large, overarching goals. It’s great to say, “I want to do $100,000 of business next year!” but if you have no idea how to do that, you probably need to work your way up to it. Start with, say, $10,000 per quarter, which is a good, reasonable goal for an independent professional in mid-sized community. Then, after you’ve done that a few times, move the goal posts a little few yards back, to $15,000 or $20,000. That way, you can still have those occasional bad months, and not have to feel like you’re sinking your ship, while you’re still moving up and forward.

The other was creating a peer group that serves as your advisors. A set group of people you can turn to for coaching and advice, on everything from kerning and tracking to expense reports and legal fees. The feeling of not being alone, which is so common to freelancers like me, permeated the Creative Freelancer Conference, and was one of the most empowering thoughts I came away with.

I’m not sure how any of that translates to keeping it alive all year long, but maybe by the time I leave my second HOW conference I’ll have a better idea of how to answer that.

  1. 06
    Melissa M said:

    Vossome is awesome!

  2. 06
    AMY R said:

    LMAO @ the Goonies reference. Don’t worry… the cabbies in Chicago are way better! ;D