Industry News

Podcast Spotlight Q&A: Jeffrey Shaw, of Creative Warriors

HOW do I speak the language of the customers?

Short answer: HOW Design Live. And Jeffrey Shaw, whose presentation is called “Designs That Speak the Customer’s Lingo,” will show you how.

Jeffrey Shaw is a keynote speaker, a marketing and branding consultant for service-based businesses, host of the popular business podcast Creative Warriors, a TEDx speaker, a featured storyteller on The Moth and the author of “LINGO: Discover Your Ideal Customer’s Secret Language and Make Your Business Irresistible.”

For more than three decades, Jeffrey has been one of the most sought-after portrait photographers in the U.S., photographing the families of such notables as Tom Seaver, Pat Riley, Jim Nnatz, David Bloom, Stephanie Seymour, and C-Suite executives from Twitter, Anheuser Busch, 3M, as well as Wall Street leaders too many to mention. His portraits have appeared on the Oprah Show, in People magazine, O Magazine, and others.

Having a keen eye isn’t just for what one sees, but also for what one senses. Jeffrey Shaw uses this honed intuition developed as a photographer to teach creatives, entrepreneurs, and service-based businesses how to attract their ideal customers by speaking their Secret Language.

This was the topic of conversation on the recent episode of the HOW Design Live podcast when Shaw was interviewed by Ilise Benun, HOW Design Live Podcast Host and Founder of According to Shaw, “knowing the customer’s demographics and personality profile is no longer enough. Consumers today demand a deeper and more individualized understanding of whom they are to gain their attention and earn their trust.”

We also argued a bit about whether the rigidity of choosing a niche makes sense for creative professionals. He said it doesn’t and I don’t think it’s as black and white as all that.

Listen here:


What are you planning to share with The HOW Design Live attendees?

I would like to help your audience of creatives in business achieve their business goals while also building the lifestyle and life of fulfillment that’s important to them. This is accomplished in three ways. I offer the specific marketing and branding strategies provided in my book LINGO, including the 5-step Secret Language Strategy. In LINGO, I also offer mindsets and daily practices that are critical to leveraging the strategies. Otherwise, we creatives continue to run like a hamster on a wheel, working really hard but hardly getting ahead. Lastly, how to bring out the best in ourselves,s which is the topic of my TEDx talk.

What trends or changes excite and/or scare you most right now?

The trend that excites me is that according to research, entrepreneurs, freelancers and creatives will drive 60% of the US economy by 2030. I love that there’s almost no “normal” in business anymore and businesses are being created every day that are unique. I also embrace the advancement of technology as creating a craving for human connection that more heart-centered and purpose-driven business will be able to fulfill. What concerns me is the attempt to commoditize service-based businesses by a public who thinks that we’re all the same in any chosen field. Of greater concern, are the businesses that buy into that.

In what ways do you bring your creativity to business? 

Perhaps most importantly, I believe creatives have the ability to see more, hear more, and feel more. What others see as us chasing squirrels, I see as our greatest strength. At the heart of how I use creativity in my business is my increased empathy for others and an instinct to spot social trends. While more logical entrepreneurs will chase market trends, I think it is far more effective to notice social and behavior changes. If we can understand how the behavior and needs of our customers are changing, we can stay ahead of them and keep our business relevant. In my 33 years in business, what people value, trust, and want from those they do business with has changed at a far quicker pace than I think most people realize. In a more practical sense, I bring creativity to my business by thinking of unique touches to really move my customers.

What did you think you were going to be when you grew up? When did you realize this was (or wasn’t) going to happen?

I thought I was going to be an architect. But it seemed like too much education! So I went to photography school to learn to photograph architecture. Once I started including people in my photos, I knew that’s what I was meant to do. Those two interests combined is why I specialize in on-location photography.

What goal(s) are you working toward right now?

Increasing my speaking business so that I can impact more people. This has been a year of two major goals—launching my first book and doing a TEDx. My goal now is to expand the platform I’ve created.

What one single quality, above all, would you most attribute your success to?

Empathy for others.

What advice would you give yourself if you could go back in time 10 years?

Get help and support sooner. Stop playing it small and get at it.

What lesson(s) did you learn the hard way (could be your career, or life in general):

I wish I had started on so many things earlier in life. I came out late in life (age 44), and am now doing what I believe is my most purposeful work. However, I also believe life has to unfold and I’m not sure I could have rushed anything along. I often joke that I’m a slow learner. That doesn’t mean it isn’t a hard lesson though!

What is the one thing in business that you are worst at or hate doing the most?

You can do for others what you can’t do for yourself! I struggle with getting my point across and helping others to see the value of how I can serve.

Any other advice you want to offer creative professionals?

It pains me to see creatives not get paid what they are worth. I like to point out that what comes easiest for you has the highest value. Creatives tend to diminish their greatest gifts because they are easy for them.

Check out Jeffrey’s links and register to join us at HOW Design Live:

·       Main web site:

·       Jeffrey’s book, LINGO:

·       Jeffrey’s TEDx, The Validation Paradox: Finding Your Best Through Others

·       More podcast interviews with Jeffrey:

·       The Niche Debate Part 2:

           Twitter: @jeffreyshaw1


      Instagram- jeffreyshaw




Jeffrey’s Recommended Resources:

·       To Sell is Human by Dan Pink

·       Fascinate by Sally Hogshead

·       The Geography of Genius by Eric Weiner

·       Our Deepest Fear by Marianne Williamson

·       Tamsen Webster

by Ilise Benun, founder of