January 07, 2020

Five Questions with Kevin Huynh: Founding Partner of People & Company

During our midday break at In/Visible Talks 2020, you’ll have the opportunity to participate in a Lunch + Learn session. You might join other conference attendees in discussing how purpose drives impact, how to tell stories with everyday objects, or how to get your work featured in a museum. If you meet with facilitator Kevin Huynh, you’ll learn from him how to go beyond established networks and build “The Next Creative Communities” with people in purposeful ways.

Kevin backs up his topic with impressive credentials. He is the Founding Partner at People & Company, a strategy company that has coached organizations from Nike to upstart nonprofits on how to create authentic communities. He has volunteered hundreds of hours talking strategy with grassroots community leaders, and he serves on the board of the Edcamp Foundation, which puts on an “unconference” to empower educators. Kevin is also a coauthor of Get Together: How to Build a Community With Your People, an Amazon best seller.

We can’t wait to meet Kevin in person on January 16. Meanwhile, here are some insights into his creative life.

What is your relationship to the creative process?

“Social. I can only get so far until I need to talk things out—though talking to myself suffices at times.”

How or where do you find inspiration?

“Recently, I’ve been inspired by a number of Asian American creators who have entered my NYC world over the past year. People like photographer Andrew Kung; Krystie Yen, Kat Jeng, and their team behind Slant’d magazine; and Karen Mok and Cassandra Lam and their work on The Cosmos. These individuals are exploring identity as Asian Americans—creating spaces and artwork that have motivated me to express more about who my family is, who I am, and who I want to be.”

What was one of your biggest creative challenges?

“Accessing a creative community. I remember early in my career taking any intro/meeting/coffee with any human who did something remotely related to the word ‘design’. Once I got plugged in, I was plugged in. But it felt like it took persistence to stick my head through the door.”

When did you first realize you needed to be in a creative field?

“In 2009, I attended a lecture by a partner at IDEO. His talk made me believe that any field could be a creative field. Being creative wasn’t about earning a certain title or position. It was about recognizing problems, understanding people’s needs, and designing with them.”

Who are some of your heroes and why?

“Mom and Dad. My parents are both Vietnamese refugees who came to the US in 1975. They were teenagers, sponsored by families in Texas. They’d eventually meet during junior college, establish careers, and give my brother and me the foundation that enables us to pursue the lives we do now.”

Bonus Round: What was your first job?

“Pet sitter for my neighbor’s gecko.”