Fresh back from a long weekend in Austin, TX I know that my inbox and voice mail will be filled with the question of "Was SXSW worth it for you?"
The answer is yes.
It is worth the money, time and energy I spent to be part of it and I plan on buying a ticket for next year as soon as they go on sale.
People who focus on "the next great thing" or "the breakout app of SXSW" are missing the point of the conference and have bought into the hype. They'll most likely leave disappointed and I'm sure we'll see plenty of complaining posts in the coming hours.
In my mind, SXSW has always been about exposing people from all mediums to different ideas. Bringing together people passionate about all things online, music and film means you are guaranteed to have an eclectic mass of people in one place.
It is also the single best place for business networking for someone who makes a living the way I do. If you work in the online space and create content of any sort, SXSW is a must attend conference.
I went to SXSW this year with the following goals:
- Promote Amazing Things Will Happen
- Talk to as many people as possible about The Cleon Foundation to get their feedback and to inform them what the plans were.
- Find new partners to hire me for content creation and other projects
- Spend quality time with Friends
- Meet new people and learn new things
Looking at my notes and thinking back, I hit all of them as best I could. Thankfully there were only a few friends I missed seeing, but that is always the case.
A special thank you to the team at Vocus who sponsored and organized a perfect brunch to celebrate my book. Being able to spend time with so many of my friends and fans in the middle of all the chaos was an oasis of happiness for me.
Hallway magic continued to happen around every turn. The variety of people I met is truly amazing and some will become new friends and others new clients. There was a perfect mix of business and quality time.
Sessions were packed and everyone I talked to had ones that they couldn't wait to see.
I know I missed many that I had planned to attend and look forward to the recordings being posted so that I can hear what I missed.
Being part of the team who helps judge panel submissions, I can say that I was impressed by the variety and the final selection of panels. I hope they continue to add to the diversity in the coming years.
There was a noticeably different vibe this year that I can't place my finger on yet.
At times it felt smaller, yet there were people everywhere. There didn't seem to be as many huge brand take overs and yet everywhere you looked there were companies of all sizes pimping their wares.
You get out of conferences what you put into them. My time in Austin was busier than I had planned for, but I don't regret how I spent any of the time there.
I won't know if the conference fully pays off for me or not until contracts are signed and work is completed, but I do know I received a ton of value from my fews day there.
Thank you to the Hugh and the entire SXSW team. I can't imagine how they pull off something on this scale, but they do it every single year.