Posts Tagged South by Southwest
Talk to anyone who has been to South by Southwest (SxSW), and they’re sure to have plenty of tips for you. Bring a lot of business cards. Don’t hang out with anyone you know. Carry an extra phone battery, battery extender, or battery charger with you. If you’re carting around your laptop, bring an extension cord, or better yet a power strip (you’ll be everyone’s new best friend, I promise). And specifically for the ladies, leave the heels at home.
These are all excellent tips. All except the very last one…
That’s right ladies, I’m recommending you bring your heels. Bring them. Wear them. Rock them proud.
Everyone tells you to wear sneakers because you’ll be doing a lot of walking. Miles and miles and miles of walking. And everyone is right. It’s incredibly important to wear comfortable shoes when you’re doing that much walking. But the advice about wearing sneakers is based on the assumption that heels aren’t comfortable. This advice is also, most likely, coming from men. Most men love a women in a pair of sexy heels, so they can’t possibly be telling you to leave your heels at home cause they don’t want you to look sexy. They’re telling you because they want to save you the pain of walking in heels.
Last year was my first year at SxSW. Despite my strong preference for heels, I took heed of the sneaker advice and packed whatever shoes had the flatest soles. I packed comfy sneakers, comfy boots, and a pair of comfy ballet flats I bought just for the occasion. I also back one pair of high heel boots in hopes that maybe, just maybe, I’d get to wear them. I wore my comfy sneakers. I wore my comfy boots. I wore my comfy ballet flats. My feet hurt every single day. On the last night, after conferencing all day in sneakers, I went back to the hotel and put on my high heel boots before heading for the parties. I walked miles that night, and my feet were never happier.
The men telling you and me to leave our heels at home don’t wear heels, and they don’t realize that for a woman who rocks heels on a daily basis, wearing sneakers isn’t necessarily any more comfortable than wearing heels. So my advice is to bring your most comfortable flat shoes and your most comfortable heels. Rock them each on different days or at different times of the day. Doing so will change the balance and pressure points on your feet, preventing you from repetitively abusing the same sore spots.
At the end of each night, when you finally stumble into your hotel room, you’re feet will hurt. Just as do the feet of every guy that told you to wear sneakers. Your feet (and their feet) don’t hurt because your shoes weren’t comfortable. Your feet hurt because you’ve been walking miles and miles and miles.
As I listen to the podcast of Rawking SXSW Year Round panel, I’m finally writing the last of my South by Southwest wrap up posts. What can I say, March was a busy month, first getting my #getmetosxsw on, then the event itself, then returning to a visit from my aunt and cousin from Kansas, and finally getting backing into the groove of work and the real world.
So how was it? In a word: AWESOME! In all realness: the dress rehearsal for next year.
Despite all the people I talked to and the questions I asked before I went, there really is no way to know what to expect until you’ve experienced it once. Over and over I was told that it was less about the panels and more about the people. As a knowledge lover, it’s hard to let go of the desire to attend panels, lots and lots of panels. My selection of these was hit and miss. Some I couldn’t even get into because they were over capacity. The good news is that most, if not all, of them are supposed to be available as podcasts.
But the people… The people were a definite hit. Three types of people specifically. Type 1: The people you only get to see when you’re both in town for the big conferences. Type 2: The people that you’ve connected with online, but have yet to meet in real life. Type 3: The people you never knew you never knew. My SXSW highlights are [almost] all about the people.
Darryl Ohrt2, Missy Reitner3, and Joey Leslie3 discover a new tasty bizzeverage – I’m not a beer drinker, so when I rendezvoused with Darryl for drinks, I ordered a snakebite and black. Part lager, part cider, with a splash of black currant. The slightly red coloring piqued curiosity. The taste won over a few new fans. >> Darryl and his Plaid colleagues on will venture on their third PlaidNation tour this summer. I’ll be watching, and I’m scheming on how to secure one of their super nifty retro hotel keyrings.
Clarence Smith, Jr.2 – For my part, I was captivated by @dykc from the first “Marinate.” We mutually followed fo a year, text tagged the first two days of SXSW, greeted like old friends, and the got up got up & got down and the dance floor before all was done. Not one moment was anything less than uplifting. >> Clarence, both storyteller and storyseeker, took a turn on the mic at Fray Café 9.
WLTV impromptu wine party(s) – This was my first time seeing Gary Vaynerchuk1 in a big conference setting, and he impressed me on a variety of ways. From greeting people he’s met only once or twice before to yielding over two-thirds of his panel to his audience, he has a way of seeding meaningful sentiment into each encounter. One night, Gary threw two impromptu wine tasting parties advertised with a few simple tweets and drew a significant turnout. The magnetism this man has with an audience thirsty for inspiration is awesome to behold. >> Gary’s got more projects than a girl has breath to talk about, one of which is a book due for release this fall (likely under a different title than the one listed in the article).
Kissing Penguin – By the second day, I had decided to kiss Jeremy Tanner1 every time I saw him. Plant a quick peck on the cheek, then walk away without a word. He’s like a big teddy bear. But he’s got some stealth too. The sneaky devil beat me at my own game once! >> Penguin was recently selected as a Ford Fiesta Movement Agent.
Declared missing by the #phx crew (sorta) – At the WordPress BBQ, Curtis Miller and Chris Chandler told me they thought I’d disappeared. We’d had an early dinner two nights before, but not even a passing in the halls since. I took it as a compliment. It meant I was off meeting new people. >> Chris and Curtis deliver a wickedly dry humorous podcast called Personality Flatline. It’s been on a bit of a hiatus as they get their new company, Flatterline, off the ground, but I hope it makes a quick return.
Lunch with strangers –I bumped into Jeremy Hubert3 after tweeting about wanting to have lunch with strangers. I’d met Jeremy the night before, so he didn’t count as a stranger. The two guys with him did. After lunch, and I told Jeremy I’d eat with him everyday on condition that he introduce me to strangers each time. Call it an effort in outsourcing my networking.
And gettin’ my dance on – Friday night, Saturday night, Monday night… I got my dance on quite a bit. Indeed, one morning I woke to soreness and a monster blister on my little toe. More often than not I was with Chris Smith3 (aptly named @groovemonkey), Brian Brodeur3 (a #phx peep I never knew I never knew), and the Blurb crew3. Good, good times! >> Brian was at SXSW photo documenting Media Trust’s Relevantly Speaking shoots at SXSW, and is responsible for the shot of me shown above.
Twelve days ago, I returned from South by Southwest. Twelve days ago, “SXSW wrap up post” has topped my to do list. I’m overdue, but before I talk about my experience, I need to say thank you.
Having been underemployed for the better part of six months, there is no way I would have made it to SXSW on my own. I needed help.
I started my #getmetosxsw hustle four weeks out. I carried a piggy bank around the third Ignite Phoenix. I secured a second part-time job (not officially hustle, but it helped). And I offered business services in exchange for contribution. This last led to some really cool opportunities. Notably:
- SnapFactory Twitter Interactive photo shoot – Mark Wallace of SnapFactory was given the opportunity to test Profoto lighting equipment in a fashion shoot. He opened the shoot to live behind-the-scenes interaction via Twitter and Flickr, bringing me on as his online journalist. (See video here.)
- Guerrilla Dance Attack press release and web presence – Aileen Mapes is a Dance MFA candidate at ASU’s Herberger College of the Arts. Her thesis explores the dynamic merging of choreography and site-specific improvisation that occurs once dance is taken outside of traditional performance venues and into the streets. Aileen engaged me to create press materials and Tumblr logs for leveraging both Guerrilla Dance Attack and future work.
- Texder product testing and alpha launch – Texder is a personal SMS sales tool that has been in bootstrap development for several months. As an integral part of the development team, I have led internal product testing, social outreach, community previews, and most recently, SXSW promotions.
The icing on all this cake was the outpouring of support of my community. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Diane Wallace, James Archer and Forty Agency, Jason Baer, Tom Chapin, Mark Dudlik, Aaron Post, Todd Huffman, Biray Alsac, and more.
Where it started…
On January 29, a handful of the #phx social media / web tech / interactive marketing crowd broke into conversation about the upcoming South by Southwest Interactive March 13-17 in Austin, Texas. Lots of people are going. Some people desperately want to go but don’t know if the can. I fall into this last group with my don’t knows fueled primarily by fundage issues. But let’s focus on the positives, otherwise known as my desperate want to go and my ideas for how to get there.
What is SXSW…
What started as a music conference and festival has since expanded to include nine days of immersion in music, film and interactive media. SXSW has it all. Keynotes, panels, trade shows, film screenings, listening parties, product launches, book readings, socializing, networking, reputable knowledge leaders, unreputable celebrities, up-and-comers.
Why I want to go…
Rather than bore you to tears with the long list, here are my top five:
- Absorb, learn and participate in dynamic conversations that dissect the current and foreshadow the future of interactive and social media.
- Extend and deepen my socially-networked connections.
- Promote projects I’m working on, and to discover others that promise exciting opportunities for sum is greater than parts collaboration.
- Rock the nine to five AM that underpins the learn hard play hard lifestyle.
- Beat Gary Vaynerchuk in poker for the third time.
Ideas for how to get there…
This is the part where I need some help…
- Get on a panel.
- Be a spokesperson for a company or product looking to launch.
- Be a SWAG girl.
- Sell my left forearm.
- Trade strategy, marketing, and social media services in exchange for conference and travel expenses.
- Flirt my way in.
I don’t believe anyone is going to send me to SXSW without expecting a little ROI. And that’s fine. I dig mutually beneficial arrangements, so if you’ve got a lead or proposal for me, hit me up on Twitter or email ( heather lynne herr at gmail dot com ).
Or geek spring break as it’s sometimes called.
And day 4 of the wish list.
South by Southwest started as a music conference and festival, but has since expanded to include film and interactive media. It’s held in Austin, Texas each March. This year (meaning 2009), the interactive portion falls on March 13-17. To hear them tell it:
The SXSW Interactive Festival features five days of exciting panel content and amazing parties. Attracting digital creatives as well as visionary technology entrepreneurs, the event celebrates the best minds and the brightest personalities of emerging technology. Whether you are a hard-core geek, a dedicated content creator, a new media entrepreneur, or just someone who likes being around an extremely creative community, SXSW Interactive is for you!
In other words, it’s the place to be. So if you know and love a geek whose not yet registered, sign them up!
Last year I missed it. In truth, I had never even heard of SXSW until sometime in late January. I was still a n00b to the local geek scene. I didn’t really understand what SXSW was, nor was either myself or my company in a position to foot the registration fee. So I sat home. But oh how I wanted to go! To absorb the culture and knowledge surrounding current developments interactive and social media. And to hang out with all the #phx geeks I’d recently me and knew would be there.