Select Page

Industrial Design + Design Agency Leadership + Creative Confidence with James Howard — DT101 E74

James Howard is a teacher, design historian, industrial designer, and inventor of over 300 products with 18 patents. He’s currently the owner-operator of Entrepreneurial U, a specialty private design school. Prior to teaching at the county college of Morris in New Jersey, Professor Howard was the owner-operator of the award-winning Howard Design Agency, an industrial design practice whose clients included Coca-Cola, Colgate Palmolive, and Johnson & Johnson.

James is also the owner of Cozy Cupboard Tearoom of Morristown, New Jersey. The English-style business has been a regional favorite for over 10 years. James serves as the Executive Director of the Black Inventors Hall of Fame, a virtual museum devoted to immortalizing African-Americans whose noteworthy inventions have improved lives, yet gone unnoticed.

Listen to Learn About:

Picture of James Howard

  • James’ journey to become an industrial designer
  • The Howard Design Agency
  • James’ years teaching design
  • Entrepreneurial U
  • Growth mindset
  • The power of optimism – in work, and in life

Show Highlights

[01:55] James talks about his journey into design, and his big sister Doris.
[03:11] Entering his first drawing contest as a young boy.
[03:16] The disappointment of not getting into the graphic design program – and James’ shift into industrial design as a result.
[05:31] Challenges James faced during his undergraduate and graduate years.
[08:56] Getting into graduate school.
[10:38] James’ struggles with his first mentor in graduate school.
[12:30] How things changed once he had a strong mentor on his side.
[13:15] Winning a design award from RESNA.
[14:01] His first job as an industrial designer.
[15:49] James’ advice for people dealing with bumps in the road.
[16:49] Why James decided to start his own design agency.
[19:51] 15 years at the Howard Design Agency.
[21:10] How running his own agency changed the way James thought about design.
[23:17] James offers advice on how to make a good pitch.
[26:42] The decision to leave his design agency and begin teaching.
[30:59] Founding Entrepreneurial U.
[32:09] James talks about the Bridge program, which helps adults change career pathways.
[32:51] The importance of cultivating a growth mindset.
[33:51] James as the perpetual optimist, and passing that optimism on to his students.
[36:16] Doodling as a second language, to tell stories and convey ideas.
[38:07] Resources James recommends.
[41:18] Where to find out more about James and his work.
[42:30] The Black Inventors’ Hall of Fame.
[46:20] Fluid Hive’s resources for those wanting to learn and practice design thinking.


James on LinkedIn
Entrepreneurial U
Black Inventors’ Hall of Fame
A Conversation with James Howard, Perpetual Optimist
The History of Black Industrial Designers
Book Recommendation: Marketing for the Small Design Firm, by Jim Morgan
Book Recommendation: Who Moved My Cheese: An A-Mazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life, by Spencer Johnson
Book Recommendation: Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us, by Tom Kelley and David Kelley
Book Recommendation: Rebel Talent: Why It Pays to Break the Rules at Work and in Life, by Francesca Gino
Book Recommendation: The Universal Traveler, by James Bagnell and Don Koberg

Design Thinking 101 Episodes You Might Like

Learning Service Design + Leading Service Transformation with Clive Grinyer — DT101 E66
Integrating Engineering, Design and Business with Tony Hu — DT101 E35
Leading a Design Thinking Consultancy, Betting Small to Win Big, and Driving Business Growth with Design Thinking with Natalie Foley — DT101 E5

Tell me how the show helps you.

Photo of Dawan Stanford

Your ideas support and develop the show. Tell the world how the Design Thinking 101 Podcast has helped you think and solve like a designer. Then, tell me how I might make it even more helpful.

Cheers ~ Dawan

Need help right now? Try Fluid Hive's Innovation Shield.

Download this step-by-step guide!

It helps make everything you create more valuable by asking simple questions.

Our workshops and courses are built on Fluid Hive's Question-based Learning and filled with tools ilke this one. Enjoy!

Images of pages from Innovation Shield

Join Dawan in a Free Design Skills Workshop!

Solve Like a Designer

A unique introduction to design thinking and more!

11 June 2024, 1:30 PM ET, 90 minutes, Register Here!

Workshop Design Lab

18 June 2024, 1:30 PM ET, 90 minutes, Notify Me!

Free workshops for people who want to develop, practice and learn design skills for creating services and solutions.

Live, interactive, practical experiences led by Dr. Dawan Stanford.

Your Ask Like a Designer Studio!

~ a free resource

You get Design Skills lessons and workshop invitiations, course discounts, Ask Like a Designer articles, podcast announcements, and more!
Cheers ~ Dawan

The Designing Facilitation Course

Are you ready to design outstanding events that will engage participants and get the outcomes you need?

Fluid Hive's Designing Facilitation Course is a step-by-step design thinking-fueled system for creating and leading events, workshops and meetings that solve problems, save money, and protect your reputation.

Find Better Problems Course

In this self-paced, online course, Find Better Problems: Creating Better Solutions by Framing More Valuable Problems to Solve, you will learn to create more effective solutions by understanding the problem you are trying to solve.

Creating effective solutions begins with finding, defining and refining the problem you're trying to solve. I help you do that and more with step-by-step instruction and practical templates.