Can you imagine the energy and ideas more than 70 000 people can generate when they find themselves in one place, gathered around one idea?
Can you imagine an entire city, becoming a melting pot of people in search of inspiration, knowledge, innovation, creativity, connections and entertainment, by designating venues and creating opportunities for all of these people to meet and interact?
If you had the privilege of attending this year’s SXSW, or at least one part of it, you had the opportunity to experience it for yourself. If not, I hope to share with you at least a little piece of amazing atmosphere you can experience all over Austin during SXSW.
The only event that can gather people interested in what Saudi Arabian princess does in the field of human rights, Grumpy Cat and Snoop Dogg all in one place.
Year after year, SXSW manages to gather people from all walks of life, with varied desires, interests and goals, and to successfully answer them all. No matter if you are interested in AI, content marketing, Internet of things, UX, design, gaming, entertainment or just meeting interesting people, SXSW has quite a bit for each and every one of us. SXSW is envisioned to galvanize its audiences.
This time, SXSW has reportedly gathered more than 100 000 people (not counting the natives), but for me the conference seemed even bigger. A large number of people were attracted by unofficial networking opportunities made possible by the fact that everywhere you looked around, on the streets, coffee shops, theatres or grocery stores, you could see name-tags identifying people as SXSW attendees.
Before coming to Austin I was warned that a big part of SXSW experience will be waiting in lines, which was proven true the moment we stepped off our plane and went hunting for a cab. We needed a full day to get accustomed to SXSW Interactive schedule, insanity that is 6th street and overall uplifting atmosphere that could be felt everywhere. As soon as we saw “Keep Austin weird” signs all over the town, we realised we were in for a whirl of awesomeness, and we were right.
What I wasn’t prepared for was the sheer quality of the panels I attended.
Some conferences face the challenge of finding enough quality speakers and panel ideas. This was not the case at SXSW Interactive. In fact, the problem was that there was too many interesting things going on at the same time! I had up to 5 interesting lectures scheduled for the same time slot. At times, that was very frustrating, but all in all, so worth it.
It’s not every day that you get to learn from people whose work you have followed for years and whose books and teachings you have devoured. Just the fact that I was in the same room with a person like Jack Welch, one of the greatest and most successful managers of all time, was enough to make my year. I got to listen him and Gary Vaynerchuk discuss some of the passing fads and latest trends of digital age for the whole hour. But more on that next week.
One of my favorite authors, Malcolm Gladwell, interviewed Bill Gurley, a big name in VC industry and one of the “technology’s top dealmakers”, who shared his opinion in which direction the startup world is going and the overall atmosphere at the Silicon Valley – the promised land of many young entrepreneurs. I suggest you keep an eye on post about that as well.
Finally, I also got to listen to amazing Daniel Pink presenting findings on ways we can influence other people’s behavior. Something that is interesting and good to know no matter your position or industry. As Daniel would say, we are all selling something – our products, services or skills.
To be honest, even though I am mentioning all these big names, I am not doing the conference justice. There were so many elements worth seeing, from Gaming Expo (that left me with much lighter pockets), mentorship sessions, interactive workshops to Trade Show and branded lounges. Whole SXSW is one unparalleled experience!
Icing on the cake – Brush Square Bash III
The main focus of .ME at SXSW was celebrating ME day, an initiative we spent last six months bringing to life. The idea around ME day is to influence people to, in the midst of everyday stress and responsibilities, schedule some time for themselves – to express their uniqueness, explore their passions or just take a break and recharge. What better venue to celebrate a ‘holiday’ dedicated to expressing and respecting uniqueness than SXSW, right? In cooperation with Domain.com we organized one of the most exclusive, official parties at SXSW and danced the night away.
We are so happy to see that the whole ME day idea got this much recognition and that it was featured in respectable media outlets like Inc. Magazine and ABC7 News. Most of all, we were so happy to see that people from all over the world were celebrating with us by doing something nice for themselves and sharing their positive and inspiring experiences on social media. We hope we generate even more buzz around ME day idea next year, and that it truly becomes a global movement!
We proclaim this ME day and our presence at SXSW a success! We hope to see you at SXSW next year. Until then, be authentic, be you, and remember to schedule some ME-time.