Graham Hill: Be Fearless

Graham Hill, like many creative professionals, has reached a level of prominence due to both his talents as an innovator and his keen business sense. His ideas are fresh, unique, and varied. From Treehugger.com, one of the leading websites devoted to conservation and sustainability; to Planet Green, the first and only 24-hour eco-lifestyle television network; to We Are Happy To Serve You, a ceramic recreation of a New York classic, Hill has shown the ability to combine a social conscious with acute sense for business. Take this with his ability to remain pragmatic and focused while achieving success, and Hill quickly becomes an ideal case study for the aspiring creative looking to turn their ideas into something tangible.

When attempting to get a project off the ground, Hill turns to a few key maxims for guidance. “Be fearless. If you don’t ask, the answer is always no.” Hill claims. Stressing the need to “land that key account that helps you land the rest,” Hill prides the importance of “understand[ing] the DNA of what you are trying to create.” Ultimately, Hill pushes an understanding that it is “less about the idea than about execution.”Beyond these philosophical practices, Hill has some very specific work habits that any creative would be smart to adopt. “Use online tools like Skype, Gmail, Google Calendar, Google maps…use simple lists…listen to what Tim Ferris says in 4 Hour Workweek…don’t let others waste your time and theirs by taking random meetings with vague objectives…move communication to the left of this continuum most of the time: email – phone call – meeting…be direct…be focused on canning time-wasting activities.”

To Hill, “creativity is at the core of any successful project.” It is therefore no surprise that one of his greatest frustrations come from vendors, manufactures and programmers who Hill claims “all tend to resist change. Their first response to anything new is that it can’t be done.” Hill conversely prides collaboration as a creative tool, seeing that “ideas generally come from the overlap of different fields or perspectives – collaboration is great for helping juice this process.”

Truth is told at the cash register.  What people say they will do and what they actually do is often different.

Outside of his more sensible approaches, Hill remains unconventional in numerous ways. He has flipped traditional notions of business practice, proving wrong the ideas that “blogs aren’t a business” and that individuals need specialty. “I’ve done a service company, a product company and a media company and I’m no genius. The phrase Jack of all trades, master of none may apply sometimes but certainly related to design, I think it’s often wrong.” Continuing this trend, Hill has defied the notion that “real businesses have offices […] I built TreeHugger into the biggest pure green site without an office.”

At the end of the day, it is Hill’s pragmatism that keeps his unconventional approaches grounded in success. “Truth is told at the cash register.  What people say they will do and what they actually do is often different. Therefore, get as much real data as early as possible in order to help decisions.” Outside of this practical approach lies Hill’s commitment to social change: “I get motivated about building for profit businesses that change the world in a positive way. I am hoping to help humanity move towards a sustainable existence.” Ultimately, Hill retains a simple yet profound four line mantra in his approach toward creation:

Believe in yourself.
Keep organized.
Be a terrier.
Do what you love.

More insights on: Decision-Making, Innovation
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