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8 SXSW Takeaways

Becky McCray pushed me to share some of the lessons I learned at South by Southwest Interactive Festival (SXSWi). And there were actually several.

  1. Look outside your area of expertise for inspiration. The photo features James Bower, during a panel presentation called, “Death of the Textbook, Emergence of Games.”  I’m not big on games, but I learned a lot from the discussion. It was very focused on changing the future of education in a positive way. Kids play games. Why not use them in a way that will help them to learn? My takeaway was that incorporating games in just about any online effort to reach them should at least be considered.
  2. Relationships are important. Yes, we both know that. But I made some significant new relationships at SXSW that wouldn’t have been possible if not for my very kind friends who made the introductions. Takeaway for you? Don’t neglect the relationships you already have.
  3. Reach out to those you don’t know. One of the more interesting conversations I had was a “chance” encounter with a lady who works for Apple as a designer. Besides being reminded why I enjoy being professionally fulfilled outside of design these days, I made this observation that I posted on Facebook: “Just sat across from a young lady who works as a designer for Apple. Her husband works for Facebook. I said they shouldn’t wait to have kids. She said daycare next to Apple costs $1350 per kid, per month. She said her boss is here but has been working so hard he hasn’t left his hotel room.” That discussion perhaps informed a decision Heather and I made very recently.
  4. Don’t use big words. Josh Baer reminded me of this very basic point.
  5. I am thankful for friends. This very much relates to point two. Sheila, Becky, Chris, Glenda, Daniel, Andy Britt and Liz all made the festival far more meaningful than it would have been otherwise.
  6. “The more you give, the more you get.”Matt Mullenweg during his interview. (He’s Mr. WordPress.) I have found this to be true – but it’s always nice to be reminded. (It was also interesting to learn that the largest WordPress office has just five people!)
  7. It’s great to be inspired by people who are smarter than you are. Clay Shirky’s presentation was awesome. Afterwards, a friend gave me one of his books – and it’s near the top of my “to read” pile.
  8. Vote with your feet. Jeremy Tanner said that a few years back. This is the case for SXSWi. If you go to a seminar that is worthless, walk out. I did.

There were tons of other takeaways. Maybe I will go next year! (You may have missed my post that launched this one.)