What do you get when you combine insane talent, effusive charm and ridiculous good looks? NATE BERKUS. I had the pleasure to hear him speak last week at the Design Bloggers Conference in Atlanta. As the opening keynote speaker, he set a perfect tone for the day inspiring guests with the ultimate pep talk.
Nate encouraged all of us to make ourselves vulnerable to realize our full potential as creative talents. He discovered his passion for design at a young age which was not the most popular pastime with his peers. With self-deprecating humor, he regaled many tales of forcing friends to help him rearrange furniture and accessorize their interiors.
In her celebrated TED Talk (link below), Brené Brown says that “Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change. Vulnerability is the core of shame and fear and our struggle for worthiness, but it appears that it’s also the birthplace of joy, of creativity, of belonging, of love.”
Nate applied this concept not only to his own career but also to his clients. He found that one of the reasons for his success was that he gave his clients permission to be exactly who they wanted to be. He does not try to superimpose a “look” or “trend” into their interiors, but discovers the essence of their personalities. He asks his clients who they are, who they are going to evolve to be, and how he can create a canvas for that life.
Throughout his career, Nate has remained true to himself by choosing authenticity above all else. He has given himself the permission to take risks, fail, learn from his mistakes, and follow his gut. He encouraged us to not to try to be everything to everybody, but to be everything to ourselves.
He stresses that, “Imperfections are where the real story lies in design. Chasing perfection makes you unbalanced in all areas of your life…Replace the word “perfect” with “permission”…When we put ourselves out there every day, we make ourselves vulnerable and ultimately give our best selves.”
Nate also shared that the reach of the blog community is larger than any publication. As creatives, he feels that we have a responsibility to share our inspiration, but first we have to BELIEVE we are inspiring.
Nate concluded with a story of a client who lived on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. After her husband died, she started keeping feathers that she discovered along her neighborhood streets as a sort of remembrance from her departed spouse. Nate framed one of the feathers and placed it in a prominent spot in her home. Although the memento had no real value, it was full of symbolic power for the homeowner. Ever since, Nate encourages his employees and clients to ask themselves, “What is your feather?”
Insert standing ovation!
In her TED talk, Brene Brown concludes that when she lets her real self be seen, loves with her whole heart, practices gratitude, and leans into joy that her newfound vulnerability has allowed her live her life morefully and authentically. Be sure to watch the TED talk for the complete message!