#SXSW: The Morning After

By • Mar 18th, 2009 • Category: 26th Story, Big Ideas

sxswIt’s all about the hash tag. Twitter‘s great, but Twitter on hash tags is even better. I’d say that’s the biggest takeaway for me after five days in Austin. Seriously, I felt Twitter move the earth again. During each presentation (and, frustratingly, there were about 15 at a time every hour and half) — you could follow what was going on in each room by the specially coded hash tags. It’s not only #sxsw anymore — now you can slice and dice your way into each panel. Take for example #sxswbp. I was in the ballroom next door watching Gary V being cheered like a rock star while my publishing colleagues were being eviscerated in the next room. I was able to cringe along as I followed every tweet.

Here’s my list of Top Five Take Aways:

1) SXSW seemed to be more about networking than breaking new ground. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I did find myself listening to to the keynotes thinking I’d heard it all before though, and wishing I’d hear what’s next. Tony Hsieh and Chris Anderson are great speakers — and if you haven’t heard Tony’s message about customer service and company culture before, or Chris Anderson’s “Free” schpeel — you should definitely watch the videos and read their blogs. If you follow them, as I do, there wasn’t much new to learn.

2) Panels about “building community” (and there were many variations of this) were a waste of time. It all seemed to be common sense — a one minute message drawn out for an hour (or longer).

3) Interesting panels lurked in less obvious places. “Making Ideas Happen” was one of my favorites. Creativity x Organization = Impact, chemistry is more important than experience when hiring, and have “standing” (as in not sitting) meetings where everyone leaves with action items — are a few of the lessons I walked away with. “Presenting Straight to the Brain” was great too. Who knew PowerPoint could be so much fun. Trial lawyer Craig Ball was a hoot — and really informative. I will definitely be consulting his blog the next time I have to give a presentation.

4) No women keynote speakers? What’s going on with that.

5) Seeing Gary Vaynerchuk is practically a religious experience. His energy is contagious, the message is great (i.e. YOU CAN MAKE IT HAPPEN!!!) and the audience can’t get enough.

Overall, inspiring five days, a lot of fun, met great people.

I’ll be spreading the word that more publishing people should attend next year. Enough with the whole industry at the Book Expo. We need to start swimming in a different pond to stay inspired, keep it fresh, meet new people, hear new ideas.

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  • http://www.stephanieklein.com Stephanie Klein

    Sorry to have missed you at our Blog to Book panel. Would have loved to drink some Mexican martinis with you. Next time. Great post.

  • http://www.nettiehartsock.com Nettie Hartsock


    reallly enjoyed your blog to book panel and I think you’re right! Not enough women speakers although Kathy Sierra was a standout and perhaps the best one I saw and I loved Chris Anderson and Guy Kawasaki’s keynote “bromance” panel on publishing.