SXSW 2019 Wrap Up

Jack Frampton


As many of you are aware, I was fortunate enough to attend SXSW 2019 last month, which is a 10-day conference and festival that brings thousands of the world’s leading professionals and entrepreneurs within the interactive, film and music industries to Austin, Texas. It’s the largest gathering of its kind in the world and is the place to be for all things creative, tech and progressive.

It’s impossible to pinpoint a single highlight from the event, but if I had to sum up the experience in one word it would be: ‘mind-blowing’. From inspiring keynote sessions and futuristic start-ups to interactive activations and discovering new artists, here are a couple of my highlights from SXSW 2019…

  1. Instagram co-founders Mike Krieger & Kevin Systrom – they discussed how they built the Instagram platform to over 1 billion users in 9 years; the challenges they faced; selling the business to Facebook and the monetisation of Instagram; and what the future holds for them. Incredibly humble and inspiring gents!
  2. Amy Gallo, editor at Harvard Business Review – Amy presented fantastic insights into ‘smart fights’ and dealing with conflict in the workplace. This is something that we work on at Be Challenged with our clients, developing strong relationships with colleagues and having the trust, vulnerability and respect in each other that allows for healthy conflict to achieve results. I’m looking forward to applying her knowledge to help our clients.
  3. Live music – if you’re a fan of live music then SXSW is a must for your bucket list! The city is buzzing at every corner and caters to music lovers of all genres. There’s a great mix of international stars playing at exclusive parties and undiscovered artists trying to make a name for themselves. I was lucky enough to see some incredible acts like CHVRCHES, Bishop Briggs and Flint Eastwood, but my favourite was Aussie Dean Lewis playing a mix of his biggest hits and tracks from his then unreleased album inside a church. A very surreal and once in a lifetime experience!

For anyone considering attending SXSW 2020 – do it! It can be quite overwhelming and if I can offer any advice, my top tips would be:

  • Do your research before attending
  • Bring a portable charger because your phone will die
  • Pack comfortable shoes and be prepared to walk (or electric scooter) a lot
  • Plan your schedule of events each morning, but don’t be too rigorous following it. Some of my favourite moments were the serendipitous ones

Heading to South by Southwest (SXSW) 2019

Jack Frampton

sxsw 2019 banner


In May last year, I attended the Meetings & Events Australia (MEA) conference in Adelaide. It was an amazing 3 days where I learnt a lot about the MICE industry, met so many new people, and connected with some old friends. There was one significant highlight for me from that conference, and that was the keynote from Hugh Forrest, Chief Programming Officer for the South by Southwest (SXSW) Conference and Festival. He delivered a great presentation about SXSW and how much it’s evolved since its inception 32 years ago. Hugh spoke about the future of the events industry and that creativity is king in today’s fast-paced world fuelled by artificial intelligence and automation. Little did I know I was going to walk away from Hugh’s presentation with a free badge to SXSW 2019 – the world’s largest gathering of creative professionals!

Located in one of the start-up capitals of the world, Austin, Texas, SXSW is a 10-day conference and festival running between 8th – 17th March that brings in over 75,000 attendees for the conference, and another 288,000 attendees for the festivals. SXSW is a meeting place of the world’s leading professionals and entrepreneurs within the interactive, film and music industries.

I am extremely fortunate to be given this opportunity to rub shoulders with and hear from the best in the business. On February 19th, I went to the SXSW Meet Up in Sydney to meet some other first timers and hear from a panel of veterans about what to expect and their top tips for tackling SXSW. The buzz around the room was amazing and it was great to share that excitement with passionate individuals. I will be in Austin 7th – 16th March to overload my brain listening to world-class keynotes / speakers, participating in interactive sessions, attending networking functions and parties, hearing various presentations from early stage tech start-ups to pitch their products and/or services to a panel of experts, discover my next favourite musician, and of course to have fun! The hardest part will be choosing which of the 2,000 sessions I attend (I’ve already got 55 sessions favourited in my schedule!) while also enjoying the experience serendipitously.

I plan on gathering as much information, knowledge and ideas from this conference to share with my colleagues at Be Challenged and the MICE industry. This is a really exciting once in a lifetime opportunity for professional and personal development that I hope to share with you all as well.

Read more about SXSW 2019, or watch the official promo video.

See you in Austin!

The four qualities of a great team

Oliver Sheer

From Manchester United to Netflix, and Apple through to the Oakland Athletics baseball team that was so vividly depicted in Michael Lewis’ book Moneyball, there’s a lot we can learn from the world’s most successful teams. It’s in looking at the common threads between them that we can establish the qualities of a great team.

1) A great team has a clearly defined, positive goals

When you look at the qualities of a great team, one thing that stands out as a common thread is that the team is unified behind a single goal. In a great sports team, players are less concerned about their own personal performance, and more motivated by the performance of the team as a whole. A great sales team doesn’t incentivise its staff to “steal” sales from other team members (which happens frequently when sales teams are not structured well.
All team members on the team understand the position the team is in, and what the endgame looks like. Goals will be ambitious, but achievable, and there should be a singular focus on achieving that goal from everyone within the team.

2) Great teams have clearly defined roles

Every person on a great team knows exactly what their role is within the context of the team. This isn’t an issue of seniority, or about establishing hierarchies by ensuring everyone
Read more

Building a cohesive team, in six critical steps

Kingsley Seale

A cohesive team will be more productive and have a more positive approach to its work. Building a cohesive team means that each person on the team will work effectively with everyone else, and everyone’s unique skillsets will be utilised to the maximum potential.
Building a cohesive team isn’t necessarily easy, however. There needs to be a clear and defined strategy behind the team-building exercise, and there are several things that business leaders should consider when looking to develop that strategy:

1) Aim for diversity

A well-rounded team will draw on the expertise from a wide range of people. This will give the team additional capabilities and perspectives in work, and this will ultimately result in greater levels of creativity, and better results.

2) Set down a specific mission

Before you even start recruiting for a team, establish what that team’s mission will be. This is important in making sure that the whole team will be unified behind that one ultimate goal, and it will help you find the right people for the team (i.e. those that are going to be driven to achieve the mission’s goals).
Read more

Uniting Teams Through Cross-Functional Communication

Oliver Sheer

Most organisations work hard at fostering good communication between members of specific teams and units. This makes sense of course, since people within teams need to interact with their teammates on a daily basis. Less common, however, is a focus placed on fostering communication across roles within the organisation, and yet this is becoming increasingly important as different departments need to operate closely together in the modern business.

Physically bringing teams together to encourage cross-team communication is only the start in fostering better cross-functional communication. It’s how you then find avenues for communication that will make or break such an initiative.

The first step is to get input from people from all departments; especially those that you know will benefit from working more closely with other teams within the organisation. Understand where the communication pain points are, and where there are information breakdowns between departments. Also look to obtain honest feedback on how they would like to see communication improved within the organisation.
Read more

The Ultimate Guide To Planning A Team Event

Kingsley Seale

A team event is an important – and potent – way for your staff to unwind, socialise, and make better connections with their team mates. But they can only be truly effective if they’re planned and executed strategically. Planning a team event that is effective in maximising outcomes requires careful consideration, and there are consequences for getting it wrong – not only will staff be bored or disengaged at the event itself, but they’ll be disinclined to want to participate in any in the future, and it will be much harder to justify the investment in organising them as a consequence.

So what are the secrets to planning a team event? How should you approach it, who should you speak to, and what steps should you take? The first goal has to be to have a specific goal in mind from the outset. It shouldn’t be just “to have fun.” A good event should be planned around facilitating a specific type of communication, or developing specific skills. It’s only once you know what the outcomes for your event should be can you move to the planning stage in full.

What should a team event look like?

A really great team event will be interactive and collaborative, in such a way that encourages each member in the team to develop their commitment, engagement and accountability within the team.
Read more

How to organise the perfect team-building activity

Oliver Sheer

When you go about organising a team activity, you should be aware of what, exactly, you are looking to achieve with that activity. You can, of course, discuss this with your activity provider, and indeed a good activity provider will ask you what the target outcomes are for any given activity. But at the same time, you should think about this before even engaging with the provider. The clearer you are on what you want to get from an activity, the more you will get from it.

What does a successful team-building activity achieve?

On the most basic of levels, a successful team-building activity will entertain. And that in itself has value; people who are entertained, or have the opportunity to take their mind away from work for a time are people that go back to their work rejuvenated.

But there’s more to it than that. A good team-building activity is in some way educational. That is to say, the team will come out of the activity with knowledge or expertise that they didn’t have previously, and Read more

How to recruit the perfect team player

Kingsley Seale

If you hire the wrong person, your business is going to suffer. It’s difficult to put a precise dollar figure on it, but you’d be looking at between $11,000 and $24,000 in lost revenue, according to CareerBuilder figures. This number doesn’t really include other “soft” costs incurred, however. How do you put a dollar figure on the damage a poor hire does to the morale of an organisation?

This is why businesses have a hiring process in the first place – to make sure that their hire is the right “fit” for the company culture and its approach to work. Those hiring processes can often be very intricate and in-depth. But the key is to not just have a multi-staged hiring process because it sounds good and it seems like the right thing to do. It’s to develop a robust structure around hiring that aims to strip as much risk out of a highly subjective process as possible.

1) Define what an ideal team member looks like.
Every business wants people who are hard working, honest, accountable, innovative, creative, driven, organised Read more

Yet More Advice from Sir Alex Ferguson On Leading Teams to Victory

Oliver Sheer

In a couple of recent blog posts, we’ve looked at leadership advice from one of the greatest football mangers of all time, Sir Alex Ferguson, as outlined in his book, Leading. There’s a lot that business executives can learn about good leadership from the formation and management of a winning football team, and Sir Ferguson’s insights apply equally to all business types.

For the third and final blog, we’ve got yet more insights on critical values that a good business leader should either already have, or work hard to develop:

1) Less management, more leadership

A manager intimidates, holding the threat of punitive action over their team to keep them in line. It’s an old and ineffective way of doing things. The manager exercises control and authority, but also alienates people Read more

Tracking the New Trends in Team Building

Kingsley Seale

Just as approaches to business change over time, so do approaches to team building. How teams work together, how they are formed, and what is expected of each individual team member as part of the whole is significantly different now to what it was a few years ago. Now, the goal of most leaders is to promote unity, enhance collaboration, and create a “one team” attitude within organisations. This is different to earlier organisational wisdom, that encouraged individuals to have a reasonable level of competition with their peers to drive them to greater personal productivity and results.

This shift in thinking is also affecting the kind of team building and organisational events that businesses take their teams on.

How competitive team building events have evolved

The focus with competitive team building events has seen a decided shift towards those events that require close teamwork. The most popular activities, such as The Amazing Race, Read more