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…
- 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!
- 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.
- 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