Him: (eyeing my SXSW "panelist" badge) I believe I met with your company's European branch on my last trip to London.
Me: (torn between disbelief, laughter or a swift kick to the groin) I think you have me confused with someone else.
No London office. No private jet. No holier than thou attitude. Just little old me...about to kick your VIP self in the groin.
Before leaving for Austin I wrote about being on the fence about SXSW this year. I am seeing this echoed across the blogosphere. Looks like SXSW could be jumping the shark, making room for more intimate focused grassroots conferences to emerge (eh, hem TribeCon, cough cough). But to quote Marc Nathan I'm not jumping on the ‘down with SXSW bandwagon.'
While I wasn't as fulfilled or inspired as last year, it was a valuable learning experience. A few lessons:
1. Intimacy trumps Popularity: Cool cliques are what you make them. Screw the lines and the lists. Find like minds and congregate. The best party I attended was the NOLA party. The second best was when I led our group of 15 peeps into an empty bar- not a popular decision, mind you- and started a pretty spectacular dance party. All we needed was us. Getting wrapped on on finding the party ruins the party.
2. Focus, grasshopper: Crowded management sessions show that more folks are trying to harness creativity and social media in a measurable efficient way. Process is the new black. Forget followers. (There's a bot for that.) Focus on fundamentals like strategy, goals and accountability.
3. Take this job and love it: I love my job. My clients are the bomb. And one of the greatest things about social media is the ability to even the playing field and pin point opportunity for the little guys to win big. And maybe even stick it to the man.
Speaking of which, what happens when you are the man? How does an anti-establishment instigator create an establishment? Now, that's what I want to learn- management skills for people with problems with authority. I hope SXSW is listening.