Reflections on Austin

SXSW is a yearly event for me. It isn't something I randomly think about, but rather actively plan for all year. It is not about the panels for me, but about the hallway magic where you get to meet and talk with some of the most amazing people in the industry. Friendships are formed and business relationships are made. THAT is where the power of SXSW lies for me.

This was my third year, so I went in knowing what to expect and what I wanted to get out of it. Because of the shear size of it and the amount of people that are there you have to do this or else it sort of swallows you up whole. It is why I made my SXSW Advice video for all the newbies (and seasoned veterans) who I wanted to make sure at least knew a little bit of what they were getting into.

Here are some thoughts and highlights for me from this year:

  • I knew that I wouldn't be able to see everyone I wanted to, but I still ran around like a maniac trying to. I had a lot of meetings the whole time so I didn't spend much time in the Blogger Lounge. As several of us said, "Get out there and meet the Internet."
  • Most people knew about Campfire and what we do, so instead of "tell me what you do" conversations we got to have "tell me how we can do something together" conversations. Those ones are always more fun. *grin*
  • I'm still not a massive party guy, but the All Hat 2 gathering and the Powered Party were both perfect day time events in great locations. Don't under value the importance of a well shaded spot, cold drinks and a small enough crowd that you can actually talk to the other attendees.
  • Chevy showed up in a big way and really showcased that they knew how to work directly with this community. I had the chance to test drive a Volt and they even fed me and a bunch of others with a great dinner at the Salt Lick BBQ. I got to meet a lot of their team and their excitement and genuine interest in hearing feedback on everything was refreshing. If a brand that size can do it, anyone can. Extra kudos for them on knowing that there is more then just Interactive going on. They are still there through all of film and music. Smart move.
  • PBS Kids held a informal brunch at The Driskill Hotel that was one of the best mornings of the whole event. I met some amazingly talented women including Rachel from A Southern Fairytale and Karen from Chookooloonks that I might not have met other wise. Plus it isn't that often that I get asked if someone can take MY portrait and I was excited to be part of the 1000 Faces Project.
  • My travel light goal was achieved. I left my 50D in the room and after taking the S90 out the first day I left that in the hotel room also. Nokia gave me a cool little N97 Mini to play with and the camera on that was more then enough for me. My SXSW Flickr Set doesn't have much in it yet, but I've got more pictures to put up soon. I did sneak in a photo walk with Jane Quigley and Melissa Pierce which was an awesome way to start the day.
  • Gingerbread Chocolate Chip pancakes from Magnolia Cafe. Need I say more?
  • I got to catch up with some close friends which I wasn't sure if we were going to be able to pull off or not. Whether it was sharing a late night bottle of wine in a hotel room or sneaking away into a corner of the Hilton to chat, those moments are always cherished.
  • Peter Shankman and Jess Berlin co-hosted a great little dinner that I'll be giggling about for years to come.
  • Checking out the Dad Labs studio was cool. They've got a great set up and are truly chasing their dreams. We recorded our first video Cast of Dads which I can't wait to see how it turns out.

I'm sure I'm forgetting something else, but those are the things that pop out at me. I've got some reactions on the tech and marketing side that I'm going to save to talk about on today's Media Hacks rather then rambling on here. You'll have to listen to see what discovered in that arena.

I returned home with my tank full. While it is an exhausting time, I really came back recharged and ready to attack. Each of you that I met and talked with helped with that so thank you for being who you are.

Photo credits: Greg Verdino & Jason Jarrett

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