My Review of South by Southwest 2019
My Review of South by Southwest 2019
Amazing, off the charts and utterly remarkable…
South by Southwest (SXSW) started in 1987 as a music festival, but over the years, it has become much more. Some of the best up-and-coming acts come to share their music, but it is also an outlet for giant brands and startups to share and gather ideas that will fuel the next era of innovation. This year was my third time at the event. Although I enjoyed two prior two experiences, this one left me with more practical action steps and palatable takeaways. This post will give you three moments that will make me a better leader and innovator in the event and leadership space. I have a podcast dedicated to SXSW and will have videos on my YouTube channel about this topic so be sure to check those out as well.
Moment one: Good Omens indeed
Amazon Prime as a new show releasing on May 31st called Good Omens. Their brand activation was remarkable. There were several incredible pieces to the activation, but my main takeaway was how leveraging disruption and unexpected messaging and timing can be extremely effective. They had great food, drink and other things in their area, but the most amazing part was how they captured the random audio/visual takeover. During the time we were in the activation, staff would change the audio, lighting and vibe to a scary but intriguing Good Omens promo. Although disruptive, it was amazing because the show is about good and evil and the struggle of humanity with the unknown. I may or may not love the show, but I can surely tell you the key message around it because of how they communicated.
Moment two: Honor the awkward
Nick Westergaard, author of Brand Now and Get Scrappy, and extremely polished communicator led an amazing season meaningful storytelling in today’s market. I totally loved this session, but the best part was the first 30 seconds of him being on stage. One of the traditions at SXSW is that there is a room host who introduces each speaker by reading their bio and setting the tone in the room. The host assigned to this session was particularly nervous and unpolished which made it fairly cringey in the audience. After some stumbles and broken sentences, Nick was introduced, and what he did at that moment was truly magical. The entire crowd knew it was a poor intro, but Nick took the chance to authentically recognize it was her first time introducing someone. He praised her for being brave. I loved this moment of SXSW and it proves some of the best moments are not scripted.
Moment three: BARS!
I had the privilege of being in the audience for the live podcast recording of Bars! at the George Washington Carter Museum. Dawn Dickson is the host of this podcast. The two guests she had were absolutely amazing. The first gentleman I had never heard of before, and the second was an icon in the music industry. I loved this moment of SXSW because it was off the beaten path, didn’t have a huge crowd, but it was incredible. Iddris Sandu, the first speaker, shared the power of curiosity. He became a website/app coder just because he wanted to learn. The second guest was DJ Jazzy Jeff. His humility and approach to his trade were inspiring. My main takeaway was when asked if he was ever afraid, he replied, “I am always afraid, and as a matter of fact, if I am not afraid I am wondering if I am doing the right thing.”
All three of these moments were important to me. Stay tuned for more insights from what I learned at SXSW. I hope you attend your next event with a keen focus on practical takeaways you can use in your craft. I am creating more content around “How to Attend a Conference,” and hope it helps you maximize the money and time you spend to attend your next conference!