All designers agree that to succeed you need to have an open mind and be always prepared to be influenced. Being aware of movements and products that have come in the past, while at the same time creating something original - that's the balance you need to strike.
Empathy for user needs:
A designer needs to constantly think from a consumer's point of view, keeping in mind that he is not designing for himself. You also need to understand the larger picture around a product, event or campaign.
In order to see an idea from conceptualisation to materialisation, being able to visualise the final product is key.