SXSW is a three week long event where people from around the world come together in Austin, Texas, and celebrate their core beliefs of creativity, innovation and inspiration. The first week is the Interactive week where over 800 sessions, led by the world’s industry leaders, are held and endless networking opportunities begin. The second week focuses on the music industry and the third week focuses on film.
SXSW is a fantastic experience and great for professional training. With over 800 sessions to pick from, the Interactive schedule was a catalog of over 240 pages. I actually went through the catalog page by page trying to pick the perfect sessions that would assist me in my professional development. I am so thankful that I am employed at a City that believes in professional training and outside the box thinking.
With so many sessions to pick from it was hard to narrow down the list. Following is a brief overview of a couple sessions I attended …
- My first session was entitled, “Startup Success from Formation to Exit.” Adam Hull, Evan Loomis and Rick Jordan presented and their piece of advice … “Don’t take money from people that can’t afford to lose it.” An interesting concept, yes???
- Steve Case, CEO of Revolution and cofounder of AOL presented at a session entitled, “Pardon the Disruption: Steve Case on Entrepreneurs.” Steve presented how AOL was started and showed clips of early television commercial’s airing the AOL message. These were comical for us in the audience; but in 1990’s, they were, of course, ahead of their time.
- Some of the titles of other sessions I attended were, “Trilogy: A Killer Network Can Transform Your Town.” “What does an Art and Design Incubator Look Like?” “Designing Austin’s Economy – An Innovation Uproar.” “Confident Women: Ditch the Bitch Stigma.” “How to Build It: In Conversation with Ben Milne.” “The 21st Century Skillset: What You Need to Succeed.” The one liners that stood out most to me in these sessions included:
- “The key to great paychecks is STEM education.”
- “Our children in this country need to learn coding. We need to make algebra interesting and make coding a language to learn just like Spanish, Italian and German.”
- “Ten years from now an employee must be a hardcore, intense problem solver who will be able to manage a team from around the globe.”
- “Politicians need to stop looking at the next election and look at the future of their city, county, state.” Yes, that actually came from a politician, Tony Cardenas, Congressman from California’s 29th district.
- “After you reach 15 employees, silos start happening.”
- “Every person has the ability to reinvent the team. Everybody should be taking a risk. Everybody should be thinking like an entrepreneur.”
- “Ask for forgiveness, not permission.”
- “Towns think about recruiting companies, not people. This attitude needs to change, we need to recruit great people. You don’t get great people from sales and property tax breaks.”
- “The next election will be won with the digital voice.”
- “What is utility without wonder and delight?”
- “By 2020, 40% of the workforce will be entrepreneurs.”
- “Economic development should be utilized to fund jobs and ideas.”
- “Millennial’s don’t care about their car or driver’s license.”
- “Follow your passion; start doing things that you are interested in; empower people to reach their full potential.”
- “Politics is too important to be left to politicians.”
- “If you have an opinion, express it!”
- “Risk and failure are part of success.”
- “Solve problems in new ways for the benefit of others.”
- Challenge the old saying, “this is the way it’s always been done.”
- “Innovation is only built by passionate, talented, cross-discipline teams working interactively.”
- “Innovation comes in all shapes and sizes, hire the right team.”
- “There is no substitute for doing something that will inspire someone.”
- “Decisions made in the 20th century, are devastating in the 21st century.”
The trip to Austin and the connections I made were extremely beneficial to me and the Economic Development department of the City of West Des Moines. The City hosted, along with the Iowa Economic Development Authority and others, the #IowaHour on Sunday, March 15, 2015, at a venue in Austin.
A recent article I found entitled, “Building and Connecting Communities for the Future,” solidified all the discussion, panel sessions and networking that I experienced at SXSW and throughout the country the last few years. The landscape is changing, that’s for sure, and the need to keep up is great. I plan to, do you?