SXSW aka WHEN A GEEK, A MILLIONAIRE AND A BLACK RAPPER MEET (EN)
How often do you meet a group of geeks discussing the new VR/AR/AI trends (and who knows which abbreviations we will need in the future) together in one place with a millionaire driving a Ferrari who is right next to you buying his coffee, alternative artists wearing crazy post-hippie clothing all together watching a tattooed half-naked rapper on the stage?
(reading lenght 6 min or jump to *** and you will finish in 2,5 min or play it on SoundCloud mp3)
May be you have some other tips, but in this case I vote for: SXSW = tech-news & music & art festival (#austin #capitaloftexas #capitaloflifemusic). Originally it was a local festival for a few people which has grown since 1989 into a mega event for more than 300 thousand people.
Actually, I could barely imagine it in the beginning… But when you get directly into the heart of the event, everything starts floating somehow by itself. And fortunately you do not meet these thousands in one spot (the only exception are loungeswhere they serve free food:). And sometimes it is during a highlight workshop with a VIP. The rest of the crowd is circulating somewhere in the downtown at dozens of parallel workshops in different buildings.
The decision-making paralysis above the events catalog/app (especially in the beginning) is the daily reality. But all “SXSW veterans” tell you that you should plan in advance, but on the other hand you should leave a lot of space in your schedule for some serendipity. So let’s keep our eyes, ears and head open for new business contacts, investment opportunities, networking, new friendships, for broadening our horizons … and let’s flow.
And how did I get to this type of event? Actually it was part of the flow and part of the active creation of space for new opportunities …
Shorter version: networking - networking - networking.
Longer version: Two years ago I actively ask Czechitas (an organization supporting diversity in IT, mainly through workshops) for cooperation. I like what they do and mainly how they do it! Their approach is close to mine so I decided to send to them, instead of the classic cover letter, an infographic (with pink dots) expressing that I would like to train career workshops for them. And sometimes it just clicks and it is love at first sight:) We gradually expanded our cooperation and I started talking about them enthusiastically to my friends and people around me. One of these messages went to Ryan Turner (an American who is working this year for one Czech non-profit organization, Spiralis) who activated his contacts in the U.S. in Austin and helped Czechitas with their nomination for the Community Service Award. So Czechitas unwrapped a very nice Christmas gift in December by winning this award - as the first organization in CEE (Central and Eastern Europe). #bigjoy #czechitasgoglobal #weproudlyrepresentczechrep :)
So we (me and Monika Malátková, who is a Czechitas co-founder together with Dita Přikrylová) packed our suitcases and went to the capital of live music (as Austin proudly calls itself) to accept the award. But, especially during SXSW, I would rather call it the capital of tech & networking & art creativity.
It is unbelievable how you can meet literally the whole world in a few square meters. I travel a lot but this big mash-up of different points of view on business innovations, tech news and art is really really amazing.
When, at a private networking dinner, all the people you see are involved in great business or non-profit activities, and you are there as the only white European, you really fully realize how the world is connected and how it moves.
I know you have definitely read or heard plenty about globalization …, but I just had to share that strong experience.
And what did we finally see (over and above the abundant music on every corner)? We divided our energy and Monika visited many events (workshops, panels, meet-ups, …) about relations with investors, social business and women in tech.
Meanwhile, I mostly went to the events about current trends in hiring and (not only personal) branding.
Sometimes we just chose something that just sounded interesting - e.g.: “Cloaks, Daggers, and Dice: How the CIA Uses Games” or the presentation “Copying Is Good” by some Chinese guy #obviously … or we saw live:) Ray Kurzweil in a duel with his daughter Amy.
Some things were super interesting, some were