SXSW: What We Learned

SXSW: What We Learned

If you’re like many folks I’ve chatted with recently, you’ve heard and thought about attending South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, TX “someday.” But (like all things at Live Out Loud) this is a someday you’ve got to say Yes! to today. Because if you’re truly committed to personal growth, entrepreneurship, and culture (and we believe you are because you are on this site), you owe it to yourself to head to Austin in 2013 to learn about all of the hottest, emerging trends.

SXSW is a sprawling 5 days in Austin, where the soon to be and current thought leaders in business, marketing, and technology meet, eat BBQ, and drink together every year. This year there were ~ 27.5 thousand of us (a 27% increase over last year according to SXSW Interactive) forcing  locals to find different driving routes through downtown

It’s my  3rd time attending this “Burning Man for Geeks.” I’ve been lucky enough to witness the launch of Twitter, Groupon, the iPad, Social Media measurement tools, and this year Banjo and Highlight. There are always vast amounts of cutting edge apps, thinking, and people. This year I saw Robert Scoble drop into a talk about social media in networking, Billy Corgan rant about the destruction of the music industry, Gary Vaynerchuk describe how to be approached as an investor, and Jane McGonigal prove to us all that we should be playing way more video games together.

Even on the shuttle ride in from the airport, myself and 5 other semi-geeks tried to guess what would be the cutting-edge thing that would be the buzz of this year’s show and the Twitter stream. Augmented reality, the new Google glasses, new location based social media, or something so technologically advanced we couldn’t possibly imagine?

But it took an accidental stop, to get out of the rain, into the free dessert, coffee, and phone charging building to really understand what the future of modern business is and it’s…homemade pies. There in the middle of a huge group of wet, super-hip 20-something’s, I met Bud The Pieman, giving away his pies with pure joy and abandon to all who approached. In that moment, I realized… this is the future of modern business – old school generosity, kindness, and so much band love you could taste it in every bite. He took the time to shake every person’s hand, answer every question about the crust, no matter how many times asked, and brought his unique and bigger than life personality to his brand.

This really got me thinking…all of these new technology tools, if not used with this in mind, just creates more noise. The only reason to market is to connect directly with your customer and let them know who you are, what you do, why you do it, and how much love you have for it and your customer. Period. And you can not fake this. And if you can do it, you instantly break through all of the “noise.”You’d think that years of school, job, seminars, and “higher learning” would have made this clear. But sometimes it’s a chance meeting with someone approaching business in a small-town way to make you realize that today, the new-school is really the old-school.

So get out there and meet your customers. It can be via the Banjo app, Pinterest, Facebook, email marketing, webinars, trade shows, SXSW, or other event. But the power of a great handshake (even virtually) and a wonderful brand story coupled with an amazing product will keep people buying from you for years. I know I did. Thanks for shipping me the strawberry Rhubarb and Pecan Pies, Bud. They were a huge hit. Can’t wait to see you, in person, again next year.

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  • Sandra McFadin
    Posted at 09:44h, 04 April Reply

    Love that a chance encounter provided such great insight and meaning to that convention! One thing though, you were in Austin for something like 5 days (and nights!) and no mention of the bats under the bridges? That would have been my first stop.

  • Paul Humphreys
    Posted at 12:26h, 22 April Reply

    Great reminder to be authentic and yourself in business – that is the way to be UNIQUE! Keep it simple! Very encouraging

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