Tim Gunn, fashion executive, author, educator and co-host of the hit television show Project Runway, helped kick off the 2013 Demandware XChange Conference by sharing the secrets of his “Make it Work” philosophy for a successful professional and personal life. Tim is familiar with Demandware from his role as the Fashion Dean of Fifth & Pacific Companies (Fifth & Pacific Companies designs and markets a portfolio of retail-based brands including Juicy Couture, kate spade and Lucky Brand). He sees many correlations between his own life philosophy and Demandware’s dedication toward innovation.

Tim is very bullish on the internet’s influence on retail and he is confident that the digital channel will play an increasingly pivotal role in influencing all aspects of commerce in the near future. Tim said that offline experience consistently results in unmet needs and expectations and that he will always use the internet for his own personal shopping, either through ecommerce or online research to drive an offline sale. He even openly admitted that he looked in the mirror one morning and declared he was truly a “Digital Diva.”

The core of Tim’s message was encouraging everyone in at the XChange Conference 2013 to truly be a “Change Agent” and to ignore naysayers who are resistant to looking at the world through a fresh perspective. Tim’s view is that doing things in a new way may take a little extra effort and bring risk, but it is necessary to avoid becoming extinct. With the world changing so fast, those who do just enough to keep up will be left behind. Tim shared that in his own life, after 29 years of being a classroom educator, the topic of online learning came up as a way to make the educational process more flexible and available to more people. At first he was resistant and wrote a list of ideas of why online education would NOT work. After consciously opening his mind to new possibilities, now he is huge proponent of online education and expects college classrooms to be mostly empty in the not so distant future.

Tim concluded his speech by telling all of us attending XChange that if there is one thing to keep in mind it is to “rid our mind of all pre-conceptions and actually LISTEN!” He said that even though we are connected more, listening is at a premium in this culture and is a key element to being open to change.

“Are you willing to share your secrets?  How do you “Make it Work” in your professional life?”