South By Southwest Interactive Festival (SXSWi) is an annual conference held in Austin, TX where tech-lovers from all over get together to network, learn about the latest technologies, and cut loose. I was fortunate enough to present at TalentNet Live this year, a social recruiting conference held during SXSWi and sponsored by the folks of Employers on Dice.
I expected to network quite a bit and learn a ton about recruiting best practices, strategies, technologies and trends – and I did! – but on the plane ride home, I found myself reflecting mostly about the overall life lessons gained from the weekend’s experiences. This list first appeared on my Twitter stream, but I think it’s pretty applicable to others in today’s working world, so here it is for all of you… expanded a bit beyond the 140 character limit. 🙂
Life lesson #1: When you get together with others who love the same things you love, it’s a pretty magical experience. Whether you love gadgets, gaming, social media, recruiting, film, music, etc., SXSWi is a time to bond with people who truly “get” you and can finish your sentences in ways that your friends, family or even your spouse never could. Pure magic.
Life lesson #2: Dance more. Even if you have to do it alone in your living room. SXSWi is full of information sessions, product demos, and networking events, but the parties are a big part of it too. This weekend unlocked a part of me that had been buried for a long time. Too long.
Life lesson #3: There is something very cool about being a geek and owning it. Confidence is king and I met some awesome nerds this weekend that oozed “cool” out of every pore in their body. Geek pride all the way, baby.
Life lesson #4: The real heroes in this world are the people who go out of their way to help others. I met quite a few of these people this weekend and they really are my heroes. I’m confident that they ended up where they are because of this generous spirit and I’m sure they’ll continue to do well because of it.
Life lesson #5: Letting go of things you can’t control and just going with the flow is an amazingly freeing feeling. For a Type-A person like me, SXSWi was a great time to just let other people “drive” for a change and just go with the flow…. no planning, no stressing, no controlling. Must remember to do this more often!
Life lesson #6: There’s a time and a place for everything. Pitching your company / product / services during the conference? Cool. Monopolizing someone’s time during the after-party with a 20-minute infomercial? Not cool. Don’t be “that” guy!
Life lesson #7: Life is too short to not dance in the rain when given the chance. This year’s attendees at SXSWi were treated to a rare downpour that dropped several inches of rain in a few hours. At first, I was one of the people hovering under an awning. But the band kept playing so I decided to seize a rare opportunity to get out there and do something a little crazy and outside of my comfort zone. And I’m really glad I did.
Life lesson #8: Following the crowd is rarely worth it. Ignore the hype. Trust your gut… it’s usually right. I only waited in a couple of long queues before I realized that those lines were sometimes just a sign of a good PR team, not necessarily a good event. Following the crowd just wastes your precious time and distracts you from wherever you’re meant to be.
Life lesson #9: The most successful people aren’t necessarily better or smarter than you. They just took action. A dear (new) friend shared these words of wisdom with me and they really hit home. You’re better than you think so stop talking about it and just go do it.
Sometimes you need to change the channel for a few days to really see things from a new perspective. It’s amazing the things you will learn about others, your industry, and yourself. If you haven’t had a chance to attend SXSWi at least once, I highly recommend you make it a priority for next year. And if you do make it, be sure to swing by TalentNet to say hi… I’ll definitely be back.