He reminds me a bit of Drew Carey and although this Adobe Max workshop relates in no way to photography, Stephen Gates discusses leadership, a necessary skill for any professional photographer to possess. And who better to learn from than Starwood’s VP and Creative Director of Global Design.

stephen-gates, starwood, vp, creative-director, global-design, leadership, inspiration, adobe-max

Starwood VP and Creative Director of Global Design, Stephen Gates, on stage at Adobe Max

Stephen Gates broke ground with some high tech developments, including using technology to compliment their services- using NFC technology as a keycard for hotel rooms and working direct with Apple to keep development moving with their products.

stephen-gates, starwood, vp, creative-director, global-design, leadership, inspiration, adobe-max

Gates’ opening advice includes steps to take when hiring someone in a leadership position. First, give them the responsibility of leading a small team. Second, create a problem, like pushing back deadlines or creating an obstacle of some sort. Third, watch how they react. As a business owner myself, I plan to take this advice. But as a photographer who works closely with a key team, try the Gates’ method.

stephen-gates, starwood, vp, creative-director, global-design, leadership, inspiration, adobe-max stephen-gates, starwood, vp, creative-director, global-design, leadership, inspiration, adobe-max

A second speaker from Starwood, Trina Cintron who handles digital design for Starwood, complimented Gates’ dry humor with several small knowledge bombs on design, leadership and execution. My favorite being, “People who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.” Some other beneficial slides here:

stephen-gates, starwood, vp, creative-director, global-design, leadership, inspiration, adobe-max

stephen-gates, starwood, vp, creative-director, global-design, leadership, inspiration, adobe-max

stephen-gates, starwood, vp, creative-director, global-design, leadership, inspiration, adobe-max

stephen-gates, starwood, vp, creative-director, global-design, leadership, inspiration, adobe-max

Gates discussed social media, pointing out his recent Twitter success of Grumpy Cat following him- Something of which I am personally a bit jealous. But he discussed how we build our personal brands via social networks.

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I was followed by @realgrumpycat – hated it. It can’t be healthy that this was the highlight of my week.

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He posts photos of his dog “Potatoes” in different scenarios: drinking martinis, wearing sombreros, being on the beach…he demonstrates his dry humor on his Twitter feed and his explanation for all of this is that we want our lives to look not boring.   Selfies are a rampant example of how we shape and control our own image. In a time when information is so heavily dependent on online networks- a photographer’s creative vision may be vetted through mediums that represent his/her personal brand.

stephen-gates, starwood, vp, creative-director, global-design, leadership, inspiration, adobe-max

stephen-gates, starwood, vp, creative-director, global-design, leadership, inspiration, adobe-max

As he ends with the experience of sitting down with Steve Wozniak and discussing the value of Steve Job’s tyrant leadership techniques. I can safely say I would love to sit and drink with Gates one day and pick his brain. From what I was able to gather in the short time listening to him, he has considerably more information to impart than could ever be crammed into a one hour session.

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Can’t really put into words how insanely cool it was to be able to meet Steve Wozniak. I’ll never forget today. #CrazyOnes #nicei2014

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For more “Potato” shots follow Gates on Twitter @sdgates and follow  Trina Cintron @telstner.