I should probably have written a SxSW recap when it was still fresh in my mind, but after being out of the office for more than a week I was swamped. I also came back to a few small changes for the book, which didn’t take long but still added to the overall workflow.
Four of us from Kelsey Advertising & Design trekked down to Austin this year, up from just two last year. It was myself, Brant Kelsey (Principal and owner of Kelsey), Brian Handley (illustrator and web developer), and Roman Alvarado (graphic and web designer). Overall, I would consider South by Southwest to be a big success. I really didn’t feel the conference itself was as energized or had the impact it had on me last year, but the people and parties definitely made up for it. I spent a lot of time just hanging out and meeting people, one on one in small personal settings.
I met a ton of people, and saw a ton of friends and acquaintances from other conferences. Some of the highlites are below… I’m sure I’m forgetting someone (it has been over a month). If we met at SxSW, drop me an email! I probably just didn’t have your card and my memory is aweful.
I spent a lot of time hanging out with Brant Kelsey, Patrick O’Keefe, and James Dasher, especially in between sessions and at lunches. I met up with James, who I knew back in the early days of SitePoint, and ended up hanging with him for a good part of the trip. Patrick introduced me to Wayne Sutton at Mohawk at one of the first parties. Wayne’s a cool guy, and I’m looking forward to seeing him speak at future conferences.
I saw Wendy Piersall of Sparkplugging at a party, and even though we’ve met twice at other conventions, last year at SxSW on the Chitika Beer Bus and again at Blogworld, she still didn’t remember me! It was actually pretty funny, and I don’t think she’ll have as hard of a time remembering me at the next one… I actually think Wendy felt pretty bad about not remembering me. At any rate, I enjoyed talking to Wendy as usual, and look forward to seeing her again at Blogworld in October. I saw Rick Calvert of Blog World Expo at the same party, and also met him at SxSW last year. Rick talked me into going to Blog World Expo last year when I met him, and I was glad he did! I only spoke to him briefly, but look forward to talking to him more at Blog World this year again.
I saw Jason Falls at one of the many parties at Mohawk (a bar in downtown Austin). He threw a small unofficial party for Maker’s Mark. I said hello, but it was nearly impossible to hear due to the loud music. I did run into Jason later in the Blogger Lounge at the conference, and enjoyed talking with him about social media and picked his brain for a few minutes about the best way to “pitch” a blogger. I’m hoping his tips will come in handy as we promote the book in the months to come.
One day at lunch, Ted Murphy, founder of IZEA, tweeted that he was looking to grab some lunch. After a series of tweets and DM’s back and forth, we finally met up with him and Ashley Edwards of IZEA for lunch. We tried two or three different locations (one closed, others packed) and ended up at Buffalo Billiards. Ted’s a really cool guy, and also runs IZEAFest conference, which I’m seriously considering for this year.
After an amazing panel, I spoke to Gary Vaynerchuk who was kind enough to give me a quick 30 second video interview. I still haven’t gotten the video up, though remembering it now I think I’ll go do that… I also met Gary at Blog World Expo where he was keynoting. Gary is an amazing speaker, but he’s a more amazing person. See him on camera? That’s Gary, all the time. I met him in the halls of BWE and walked with him to his keynote. He’s truly one of the most down to earth “superstars” I’ve met, and I wish I had 10% of his DNA. I’d love to be able to stay that positive and always “kill it” as he says.
I almost got through the entire conference without meeting up with Aaron Brazell or Jeremy Wright, two old friends from SitePoint. There are so many different panels and parties, it’s entirely possible to never even be in the same place at the same time. Fortunately, the last day of the conference I ran into both Jeremy and Aaron in the Blogger Lounge. Though it was a hectic day with people in meetings and such, I really enjoyed talking to both Jeremy and Aaron. I was able to pick Jeremy’s brain for a bit about book marketing, a subject he knows well having published Blog Marketing way back in 2005.
Chris Brogan was hanging out at the Pepsi Podcast Lounge one morning and sat down next to me at the bar. I think I met Chris last year at Blog World, but I can’t remember for sure. Anyway, he’s a very approachable guy
I’ve been an author, member and Community Advisor of SitePoint for 8 years now, so when I heard Matt Mickiewicz, the founder of SitePoint, was coming to SxSW I was pretty excited. For some reason, we just couldn’t seem to hook up at the conference. I’d see Matt tweet that he was at one room, and I’d be on the exact opposite side of the convention center. On the last day of the conference, I heard someone talking on a mobile phone… he said “This is Matt with SitePoint.com…” He was sitting right next to me. It couldn’t have worked out better. Matt didn’t have a lot of time, he was running off to a scheduled appointment in about 10 mintues, but we talked for a few minutes and he introduced me to Jason Aiken of 99designs. Matt also interviewed me about my new book coming out in May, published by SitePoint, “The Art & Science of Online Marketing,” co-authored with Shayne Tilley. It was great to finally meet Matt in person.
I almost met Guy Kawasaki. I’ve seen him at several conferences, and he’s a very engaging and entertaining speaker. When we were at the airport waiting on our flight home, Guy was sitting at a terminal just down the way from ours. He was on a phone call when I walked past to grab some lunch, and when I came back he was already boarding the plane. I would’ve loved to have met him, but I’m sure I’ll get a chance at another conference or event. My favorite quote from his keynote, “If you live for the weekends and vacations, your shit is broken!”
In addition to all the great people I met, we also had a few funny or embarrassing, all captured on Twitter for posterity of course! The first full night of parties (which included the Madison and Mohawk) we ended up at Stubs. I don’t remember it all too well, and not because it’s been a month since SxSW. I do remember eating the best smoked wings I’ve ever tasted, which seemed to arrive 30 seconds after we ordered. I also vaguely remember offering to take a photo of two ladies with their camera… and apparently I couldn’t even figure it out because after about 5 tries they just took their camera back. I think Brant may have gotten it on tape, too, but fortunately I haven’t seen the footage.
The next night after a few hours at the Google party, I ventured out alone and ended up at the Pure Volume Lounge. I made it back to the VIP area without a VIP pass, just wandered back not knowing what it was. The second time I tried to walk back I was stopped by a security guard. He was really cool and gave an interesting perspective about how locals perceive SxSW’ers. I did manage to find my way back to the VIP area again, just before someone apparently sprayed a fire extinguisher, ending the party early (at 3:20 AM). I walked about a block before realizing it was really late. Fortunately the cabbies were out in full force, so I made it back to the hotel fast and safe.
Brant rode a mechanical bull at the closing party, which was caught on video! Unfortunately, I’ve been told I can’t post it on YouTube, but it is posted on my Facebook. All you have to do is friend me to see it… The closing party was a pretty good closing to the trip. We had a great time, even though I had a lot of party left in me it’s probably best that I called it quits a little early (i.e. 2 AM). Travel days are no fun.
I was pretty excited about this particular trip to South by Southwest because it couldn’t have come at a better time. With my book being released in May, it was a great chance to talk to people who’ve done it before and get some advice. I’m extremely thankful to everyone that stopped for a few minutes to answer a question or just lend a word of wisdom. I learned so much and met so many great people! We had just a blast, and every day (and night) was an adventure.