Welcome Danielle Souder to New Kind
We’re thrilled to introduce one of our newest team members, Danielle Souder, who joins New Kind as our Senior Relationship Manager. I recently had a chance to sit down with Danielle to get to ask her a few questions about herself.
Where is home for you?
It’s funny, I have a hard time with this question because to me I feel like home is wherever the people I love the most are. But to get a little more specific: I was born in Sarasota, Florida, near Tampa. Around age 12 my family moved to Charlotte, N.C. which eventually led me to Raleigh where I studied industrial design at N.C. State. After graduation I found my way up to Oregon as I began my career. But looking back on it all, it’s safe to say Raleigh is the most foundational, the most “home” of all, because that’s where I like to think I started to become the person I am today.
Describe yourself in 3 words.
Bold – I enjoy taking on challenges and stretching myself, doing things outside my comfort zone. Starting fresh. Moving across the country. Engaging new communities.
Compassion – Not in a schmaltzy way, but more so that I genuinely care about the people, ideas, and things I get excited about.
Celebratory – There’s a reason to celebrate every day, I believe. To be overjoyed for life. That doesn’t mean there aren’t tough days, but overall I like seeing people succeed and finding even small reasons to celebrate.
So why New Kind?
For me, it goes back to that spirit of compassion and boldness I just spoke of. New Kind is a purpose-oriented organization, and I really resonate with that message. Our spirits — Catalyst, Guide, Citizen — resonated with me from the first time I visited our site. Being a celebratory person, I appreciate how we take time to celebrate each other’s successes. I also appreciate the community involvement, that New Kind is part of Raleigh’s community, helping to make it better. I love that my fellow New Kinders are part of so many creative endeavors, finding ways to share knowledge and improve our communities. Last but not least: the work. I’m biased but I truly believe New Kind is creating some of the best brand and strategy work in the industry, here or anywhere.
What inspires you?
I have to go back to my beginnings to answer that question. Like many, I grew up watching PBS, and the only shows seemed to be nature shows or shows about innovation and learning. Those core elements have informed who I am today. The intersection of design and user solutions, the knowledge that things that can be purposeful, the balance between technology and humanity. That’s what inspires me. Beyond that, I find inspiration in nature, with its dynamic, unpredictable way, where things are whimsical and unpolished. I’m fascinated by documentaries that highlight communities in far-flung places and discovering how they live. A favorite piece from my studies is Powers of 10 by Charles and Ray Eames — it really puts things in perspective.
How did you know what you wanted to be when you grew up?
Definitely something I’m still exploring, still figuring out. Every step I’ve taken has been exciting and fulfilling. I like having a level of flexibility in life, to keep thinking and iterating on new versions of myself. Over the years I’ve grown and evolved from wanting to be a writer, to becoming a filmmaker, then my interests expanded into design, research, and strategy, which led me to my time in Oregon, where I helped facilitate product design. Along the way, the common thread has been always wanting to be around people, and to have a design-driven, creative outlet in those spaces. No matter what, I don’t think I could do something I’m not excited about.
Do you have any personal hobbies or interests? What do you do for fun?
Almost anything outdoors: walking, hiking, just exploring the natural world around me. Also cooking, gardening, and more recently woodworking has become a passion of mine. When I get the space, I’d love to have a great big space for veggies and herbs and flowers. Growing things is really satisfying, the patience and the payoff.
Where is your favorite travel destination?
Going across the country, road trip-style, from Raleigh to Oregon and back again—that was a truly incredible experience. Seeing and exploring so much of our country — throughout California, Utah, St. Louis, and so many others — was a memory I’ll never forget. Internationally, the two months I spent in Guatemala really helped me appreciate a culture different from my own.
Who are your personal or professional heroes?
It may sound strange, but “young people doing things.” Entrepreneurs. People my age and younger who are out there advocating for causes and issues they care about. More specifically, author Angela Duckworth has really inspired my life and career. Her book, Grit, struck a chord with me in the way it talks about how passion and perseverance can help you succeed. I try to apply that to my work every day.
What’s your proudest achievement? Personal, work-related, whatever.
There are definitely many projects I’ve been really proud of over the years, but if I had to pick one it would have to be the paper dresses I made in high school. Taking a unique material like paper, carving intricate designs, and sewing them in an architectural or avant garde style. I kept developing my idea and by senior year of high school entered my work into a competition and won a Scholastic Gold Medal, which came with an opportunity to exhibit my work at Carnegie Hall in New York City and be showcased at the World Trade Center Memorial space. Beyond the world of design, I also started a band. Traveling and performing for those five years was incredibly rewarding. Writing and collaborating on music was really impactful for me.
Read any good books lately?
Aside from Grit, which I mentioned earlier, I would recommend Doing Good Better by William Macaskill. It’s all about effective altruism and showcasing organizations that seek to empower the good in others.
What’s playing on your Spotify right now?
Tough question! I have very eclectic taste in music, but right now I’ve really been enjoying music from artists like Elder Island, Bonobo, Chance the Rapper, and Eefje de Visser, the Dutch singer-songwriter.
Describe your perfect day.
I wake up in a new place and take a run to explore the area. Hopefully there will be some water involved…swimming, a beach, a river, anything like that. I’d go to the farmer’s market and get some fresh produce and flowers, meeting some locals. Ideally my friends and family will be with me, and we’ll go hiking and exploring. As the day continues, we’ll do something creative, whether catching a concert or visiting a gallery. Wrap it all up with a nice outdoor patio dinner for good conversation and drinks.
What do you wish you knew more about?
Content. Learning more about how to develop content strategies, how to tell stories, and connect with people. The psychology behind that is really interesting to me. I’d also like to be a better salsa dancer.
Could you name a person or people who’ve had the most impact on your life?
Dr. Sharon Joines, who taught industrial design at N.C. State’s School of Design. She instilled in me a user-centered design focus which has guided much of my young career. She was also a model for seeing how a woman can succeed in a more male-dominate space like industrial design. She taught me everything about being a thoughtful and inclusive designer, but was also a challenging professor and mentor who wouldn’t let us skate by or stay where we were. She pushed us. She gave us the opportunity to try things and set lofty goals for ourselves. She’s the type of educator I would want to be one day.
What do you enjoy most about Raleigh?
The green spaces, probably. We have so many great parks and places to explore the outdoors. Whether taking a picnic or going on a run, I love the natural environments we have to enjoy here. Also our diversity: people from all walks of life are moving to the area every day, enriching our communities. We’re blessed with an abundance of creative energy in the city as well, not to mention some pretty fantastic craft beer.
What’s your spirit animal?
In a past life I’ve been obsessed with flamingos, they’re so graceful and elegant. They’ve always had a special place in my heart. I may have even jumped into a flamingo enclosure at one point—I was convinced they wanted to hang out with me!