First of all, I had to paste this image together because I couldn't get both of us into frame. So that's why it's artsy.
There are a few methods useful to initiating a design project. One that I use with people who are brand-new to the idea, or more specifically, don't have the vernacular of design, is to assign them the job of gathering up things that strike their fancy. Sometimes I'll use this with people who are too steeped in design, to help them break free of their preconceptions.
"I want you, in the next week, to just notice things as you go through your world. Notice anything that captures your attention: your favorite clothes, your favorite music, a car commercial, a magazine ad, your favorite present... bring these to me, and we'll unravel the story they tell." Sometimes clients don't quite understand and go through the phone book, clipping out all the ads from their competitors. To them I say, "Next week, don't bring me anything from your profession. Bring me your favorite sports team logo, beer bottle label, and hood ornament. But I don't need to see anything else from your industry."
My most successful designs ever, come out of this process.
It's also great fun. We open their bag of stuff, and I listen to the story of each artifact. I'm listening for how this person connects with the world. By creating a design that explicitly relates to their connection, we create a powerful communication tool, helpful for other people to connect to my client. The conduit goes both ways. What attracts my client, relates to their right livelihood. By drawing people into the relationship, the design pre-qualifies my client's potential clients.