Pantone at the 2013 99u Conference

by Molly Walsh

Every year, creatives from around the world look forward to the annual 99u Conference hosted by Bēhance in Manhattan. Pantone team members are no different.

What is ultimately a meeting of the design minds of the world, the 99u Conference is guided by the Thomas Alva Edison adage, “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration,” with workshops and speakers guiding the two-day event to help tackle just that.


This year’s theme was “Insights on Making Ideas Happen” and the days were balanced by insightful studio tours, interactive workshops and some of the most inspiring talks by some seriously impressive tastemakers. It would be impossible to leave the conference without feeling motivated and inspired to start pushing ourselves as designers and creatives more – now armed with the tools, understanding and “self-delusion” needed to finally tackle those future dreams.


To share some of the excitement and motivation from the day, here are some impactful highlights that kept the Pantone team buzzing for weeks!

  • Brené Brown (author & Vulnerability Researcher at University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work) urged the audience to remember there is triumph in the attempt and encouraged everyone to put themselves “in the arena” Gladiator style.
  • Gretchen Rubin (author of Happier at Home & The Happiness Project) broke down personality types into four different categories, based on how people respond to “Inner & Outer Rules.”  (Are you an Upholder, Questioner, Rebel or Obliger?)
  • Scott Belsky (Co-Founder & Head of Behance; VP Products Community at Adobe) led a workshop to give insights into how to Make Things Happen. He encouraged teams to create an audit of how they work best to define a better, more realistic and functional workflow.  He promoted the idea that, by understanding how people work best, teams can create dialogues on how to tackle big projects together and work happier.
  • AJ Jacobs (author of Drop Dead Healthy) shared hilarious stories about The Year of Living Biblically and also passed on the fact that many people are just pretending to be confident and urged the crowd to keep this in mind:  When feeling pessimistic, think “What Would an Optimist Do?” and pretend to be like that.
  • Jane Ní Dhulchaointigh (Inventor & CEO of Sugru – one of the coolest products I’ve ever seen) is motivated by the fact that the Future Needs Fixing – and her product just may help us all start now. Being the first speaker to receive a full standing ovation after her presentation, she proved “even a small & humble idea can be great” and left us all with the idea that helped her through tough times – Start Small & Make It Good.
  • Michael Wolff (Designer & Creative Advisor) who was incredibly open during his sit-down chat, reminded the crowd to respect the power of great writing, especially in an age where copy is written to be approved.
  • Sebastian Thrun  (Udacity CEO & Google Fellow) brought up the tried-and-true “climbing a mountain” metaphor, but with a refreshingly straight forward message. You don’t climb a mountain just to hang out at the top; when setting out, pick a mountain that you like climbing. And when you’re working within a team, make sure there is unity in picking which mountain you climb, and how to start.


In addition to all the heady learning and encouragement, there were tons of fun details all throughout 99u – including, of course, the Pantone Creative Headshots Photo booth. With oh-so-necessary headshots snapped by the talented team of Stomping Ground Photo, it was fun to see designers clamor for a pic in front of three huge PANTONE Chips – in Cool Grey, Honeysuckle, and Emerald (naturally)!