Soren Henrich is a graphic designer. He believes in using his visual abilities for good – helping Mother Nature, affecting change, building community.
Over the past 27 years, he’s fashioned a boggling array of logos, ads, brochures, websites, banners, and insights. Enticed by his thoughtful enthusiasm, I sat down with Soren to chat about his business. Here’s what I gleaned about being a successful graphic designer:
1. Make the measure of success your own. You’re only as successful as you think you are. The quality of your life counts – so count it. If the size of your house, your Parisian vacations, or the calibre of your sound system matter – count those things too. The point: only you can decide what matters. For Soren, his family, his community, and his ability to be present and celebrate those things – right now – count.
2. Build relationships. Word of mouth referrals are the mainstay of Soren’s business. People like him, so they tell other people about him. Simple. However you do it – whether you wander door-to-door; network at breakfast meetings; or tweet, like, and recommend your way to a social network – do it with a mind toward building relationships, not selling people stuff. Words like engagement, authenticity, and transparency are everywhere these days, but the practice of building your business on relationships isn’t new – Soren’s been doing it for decades.
3. Be a leader. Soren’s roots as a graphic designer are planted firmly in his passion for illustration. As a young professional, just starting out, feeling isolated and wondering where his next customer might come from, Soren founded a collective to help foster interest in the art of illustration. It was 1984. The same year Cindy Lauper won the Grammy for best new artist, and Wendy’s produced their famous “Where’s the Beef” commercial. Today, the Island Illustrators Society still exists as a vibrant hub of support for artists, illustrators, and graphic designers.
4. Be flexible and adaptable. You can imagine, a lot changes in graphic design over the course of 27 years. Soren transitioned from drawing, pasting, and paper, to mousing, scanning, and the full Adobe suite. Flexible in his skills, and adaptable in his thinking, Soren credits Blair Enns’s Win Without Pitching for the most recent shift in how he thinks about his craft and his business.
5. Value your thinking. The sum of your experience is what makes you unique. Your strategy, diagnosis, and prescription for solving a problem have value – don’t give this away for free. This is the core of the Win Without Pitching message. It’s tied to Soren’s latest transition, from a generalist to a specialist, and has him thinking in whole new ways.
Do you have other suggestions for success? We’d love to hear your insights.