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8 SXSW Takeaways

March 28th, 2011

Paul Merrill

Becky McCray (http://www NULL.smallbizsurvival pushed me to share some of the lessons I learned at South by Southwest Interactive Festival (http://sxsw (SXSWi). And there were actually several.

  1. Look outside your area of expertise for inspiration. The photo features James Bower (http://en NULL.wikipedia NULL._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 (http://www NULL.linkedin reminded me of this very basic point.
  5. I am thankful for friends. This very much relates to point two. Sheila (http://www NULL.sheilasguide, Becky (http://www NULL.smallbizsurvival, Chris (http://twitter, Glenda (http://www NULL.doitmyselfblog, Daniel (http://flavors, Andy (http://andyhayes Britt (http://www NULL.writebold and Liz (http://www NULL.successful-blog all made the festival far more meaningful than it would have been otherwise.
  6. “The more you give, the more you get.”Matt Mullenweg (http://ma 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 (http://www NULL.shirky 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 (http://jeremytanner said that a few years back. This is the case for SXSWi. If you go to a seminar that is worthless (http://www NULL.ted NULL.html), 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 (http://greenergrassmedia

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  1. Becky McCray (http://www NULL.smallbizsurvival #
    March 28, 2011

    I knew there must be some positive takeaways. Thanks for sharing them.

  2. Johanna Fenton #
    March 29, 2011

    Maybe you should write a review of the Clay Shirky book you got. I just checked out your link to his stuff. Looks interesting, judging from the titles.

  3. Glenda Watson Hyatt (http://www NULL.doitmyselfblog #
    March 30, 2011

    Knowing a core group of people definitely helped in navigating such a large event. Hanging out with you, Becky and Sheila and getting to know other people better was definitely a highlight of SXSW.

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