Every year hundreds of thousands of people from around the globe descend on Austin, Texas for South By Southwest (commonly referenced as SXSW or South By). This ten-day long immersive event is a celebration of all things creative. There are over 30 types of conference and festival streams to explore; from music, film, and comedy to design, technology, and entrepreneurship.
Having a plan is key to surviving a conference of this size. That being said, even the best strategy will likely leave you with a case of FOMO (fear of missing out). There is just so much to see and do! My plan for SXSW was simple—go big, like, Texas big and that is exactly what I did. Here are the highlights from some of the VIPs I had the opportunity to learn from.
1. Brené Brown
Author and Researcher Brené Brown opened the event with her keynote ‘The Only Unfollow That Ever Broke My Heart’. Of course, the unfollow she was referring to was her own. Brown believes that when you don’t speak your truth or stand up for what you believe in, the only person you will hurt is yourself. This typically happens when we're trying to fit in or find belonging.
Brown dove deep into how bullshitting has become a cultural norm because we are now expected to know what is happening around the globe at any given time and how this perpetuates false narratives. She encouraged us to tell it like it is but to also be kind. It’s not always about fixing things but instead standing together in tough times. It’s hard to hate people close up and we shouldn’t be afraid to see people, it shouldn’t take disaster for us to come together.
2. Rohit Bhargava
Marketer and Trend Curator, Rohit Bhargava, talked about 7 Non-Obvious Trends that are Changing the Future. Rohit explained his method for spotting trends through manual content collection and categorization. His fascinating insights explained how the speed of change makes everyone assume the impossible is possible [editor’s note - Can I teleport yet?]. On the flip side of that, he also spoke about how we are currently in a believability crisis because over sensationalism makes us more skeptical than ever.
Rohit and his team at the Non-Obvious Company encourage unconventional thinking and have all kinds of tips on how to spot the non-obvious trends. In an obvious twist, there’s a lot of great content on their website that is worth a read.
Check out his SXSW 2019 presentation >>
3. Alexandria Acasio-Cortez
The keynote room was packed for Briahna Gray’s interview with Congresswoman Alexandria Acasio-Cortez (AOC). Cortez spoke about her the new left and her journey from waitressing to becoming a member of Congress in less than one year.
During the Q & A with the audience, The Radical Monarchs from East Oakland showed up to ask her what advice she has for young women of colour looking to enter politics. Her answer was this “Stop trying to navigate systems of power and build your own power.”
Check out the full interview >>
4. Kai Wright
Feelings were a hot topic this year. Kai Wright, a professor from the University of Columbia spoke on the power of resonating with your clients and following the feeling that a brand gives. We can count every ‘click’ and every ‘like’ but did you actually impact the way someone feels? Did that impact change their behavior? Wright explains how companies do through five branding territories: lexicon, audio, visual stimuli, experience, and culture.
This SXSW session was extremely popular. Due to the demand for the content, this summer Kai will be turning his presentation into print, ebook, and an audiobook.
Explore more >>
The best people make for the best networking. SXSW is the premier destination for discovering new ideas and fostering personal and professional growth. Will you be there in 2020?