The Top 5 Things I Learned at SXSW

By: Shama Hyder

I just wrapped up my first South by Southwest (SXSW) conference ever and aside from being a bit overwhelmed and tired, I am truly excited. One, it has inspired me to blog more and continue sharing my expertise. Two, it allowed me to meet some amazing folks. Here are the top 5 things I learned at SXSW 2008.

1) There are some amazing people in my field- I sometimes take this fact for granted, but one of the reasons I love what I do (marketing) is because of the people I get to interact with, and SXSW was no exception. I got to meet some phenomenal bloggers and colleagues. Here were some of my favorite people at SXSW:

  • Jonathan Fields– This was the first time I met him. Jonathan is not only a fantastic writer but also a warm hearted individual. His blog is a very good reflection of him. If you subscribe to it, you will see exactly what I mean.
  • eMom– eMom, also known as Wendy Piersall, is a passionate entrepreneur. She is planning some groundbreaking things to help parents succeed as entrepreneurs and I sincerely wish her all the best. It’s rare to run into such a caring individual!
  • Shoemoney– Jeremy Schoemaker is one of the most popular bloggers on the net. He is also a great guy to have lunch with. I have been reading Jeremy’s posts for a few months now, but meeting him in person was a real treat. We chatted about his businesses (he has a lot) and how he got started with the blog. He is a real straight forward guy with a lot of knowledge. I am hoping our paths cross again soon.
  • Scott Allen– It was great fun meeting Scott again. A technology entrepreneur and author, this guy knows the virtual world better than most. I will be reviewing his newest book soon.

To keep this list from growing out of control, I will briefly list the other great people I met. You can check out their blogs to see why I feel they are such rock stars-Brian Massey, Eric Doggett, Thom Singer,  Alex DC, Jose Castillo, Liz Strauss, Shashi Bellamkonda, Mohammad Saleem, Rohit Bhargava, Dave Evans.

2) Schedule tentatively- I attended only 3 of the panels I had originally planned on checking out. As with any huge conference, it’s best to plan tentatively and go with the flow. I skipped panels to eat with friends. I attended different sessions due to recommendations. I spent a lot of time lounging in the BlogHaus lobby. I also didn’t attend any of the parties I was so excited about. Why? Well, because I am not really a party person. I don’t drink, and I am usually in bed by 11 pm. As excited as I was about the prospect of attending one of Google’s infamous parties, it just wasn’t me.

3) Leave panels that are boring- Rudeness is not one of my hallmarks, but I was disappointed by some of the panels at the SXSW. My view on panels is this: if you can say it in an article that would take me 10 minutes to read, don’t do a panel on it. I left some of the panels I was eagarly awaiting because they were utterly boring. Time is valuable and best spent at panels that deliver solid content with strategy. Interactive panels were the best. My two favorite ones were Art of Speed with Tim Ferris as moderator and  Social Media Revolution with Charlene Li.

4) Don’t be afraid to ask- My favorite part about SXSW were the lunches. No, not the food, but the company. Twitter friends would randomly ask who wanted to do lunch and we would all meet (often for the first time) and head to a local haunt. The conversation and company was unbeatable. Sometimes all you have to do is just ask!

5) Set an intention but not an agenda- An intention is a goal held without any expectation of the outcome. An agenda is a set of goals in a to-do list form. An agenda is worrisome and feels heavy. An intention is much more light hearted and allows for change. I went to SXSW with an intention to meet fellow colleagues and to learn something that may help me help my clients. Both things were accomplished. I also noted people at the conference who seemed to have an agenda in terms of who they wanted to meet and what they wanted from them. It didn’t look too promising. Go with intentions over agendas any day!

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  • Vicky

    I like you ideas on attending. I really think setting intentions instead of agendas is a unique way to go. I always try to pack way too much into these kinds of affairs and get a little bombarded. Thanks

  • eMoM

    Had to come and take a peek. Everytime eMoM is mentioned it pops up on our google vanity search. We’re still trying to convince eMoms at Home they should be branding eMoms rather than eMOM since their site is

    Great article. We would have loved to be @ SxSW too especially since Qipit was there along with Connie Reece and the rest of the gang. =)

  • Anonymous
  • Liz Strauss

    Hi Shama!
    I’m right with you. An intention gives flexible direction. It sure works for me. So great to see you !

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  • thom singer

    I agree…what a great time at sxsw. One of my highlights was the impromptu lunch with you, Scott Allen, Brian Massey, Eric Doggett and Brenda Thomspon. Delightful time!

  • Julie Anne

    So bummed I missed this! Thanks for the great wrap-up. Next year for sure.

    (Found you through your comment on my blog…you’ve got a great resource here!)

  • Jonathan Fields

    Hey Shama,

    it was great having the chance to connect with you, too. SxSW was truly an amazing experience! BTW, you definitely win the award for coolest notebook sticker!

  • Jose Castillo

    Thanks Shama- You Rock and it was great to connect with you at SXSW. See you again soon!