Who: Chris Fair (firstname.lastname@example.org), president, IMI Marketing & Design
Home Base: Greenville, South Carolina
Mileage: 150,000 miles per year
Favorite destination: Charleston, South Carolina
Don't Leave Home Without It: A pocket-sized notepad
"Getting sucked into the corporate-travel routine is easy when you're on the road. Another meeting, another air-conditioned conference room. So in every city, I make it a point to break away from my stale business environment and blaze the streets. I wander aimlessly around town. I let myself get lost. I talk to locals. I scan the streets for 'hits' — the eyebrow raisers, the 'aha' moments — and mentally file them. What am I after? I want to take the pulse of a community — to broaden my personal bandwidth, glean fresh insights, and recharge my creative juices."
"Insight finds me. Last year, I was in Washington, DC for an all-day conference, and I had time to kill, so I took a walk and stumbled upon a restaurant that later became the idea behind a recent assignment. The place was an East Coast interpretation of Southwestern living, and it inspired our marketing concept for a private golf community north of Austin, Texas."
"Look around. Ask questions. Why are there tattoo parlors springing up in trendy neighborhoods? Why are some baby boomers moving in with their kids? Answering them isn't as important as constantly looking at the world in different ways and realizing that very few people live the way you do. If you can't draw from new perspectives, how can you create anything that will be meaningful to anyone but yourself?"
A version of this article appeared in the October 2000 issue of Fast Company magazine.