It was exhilarating to attend SXSW2022!
After a three-year absence, Austin roared back to life, welcoming speakers, brands, delegates, and participants worldwide. From the simple act of networking in a crowded venue to the intricate activations, the vibe was replete with renewal and rejoicing.
While official attendance was still down from last year and noticeable at some sessions, the event was an unequivocal success in my mind.
SXSW2022 did a great job of keeping up with the times, including their effort not just to have diverse speakers but have various topics was prominent. Unfortunately, opening keynote Priya Parker did not have the attendance she deserved. Still, if you measure public speaking by impacting one person at a time, then she should consider her presentation a massive success. She got me.
I learned a few things at SX this year. For one, business cards are so 2019! I eagerly had new ones printed, and people eyed the cardboard in my hands like a contagion. But, unfortunately, the QR code is the business card of 2022! Sorry printers but you need a new product.
It was not only the official SXSW events that fostered inclusivity. Reign Ventures turned my mind upside down at their event featuring the profile of people and businesses they are supporting. General partners Erica Minnihan and Monique Mosley are breaking down walls and are the future of Venture Capital.
I also learned that there are two types of intros to make in the 2022 conference world. One group, respectfully the bankers and VCs, wants to know your value proposition and what you do immediately. The other group, the entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs, want to know who you are. I admitted to stumbling when I asked one woman what she did, who was wearing a name badge reading Ask me about Diversity & Inclusion. She rightfully spanked me, saying she had not heard that opening line since she left Washington DC five years ago.
My introductory skills were better received at The Inc Founders House. Inc. Magazine did not disappoint as they created forums for entrepreneurs of all types, including a session entitled I was not Black Enough for Inc, by Brian Brackeen of Lightship Capital. In addition, Carey Smith, founder of Big Ass Fans, let loose on bankers and financiers as only he can, reminding all Founders to be clear-minded about their business and not become overly emotional as if it is your child.
I journeyed to Austin on a solo mission to reconnect to the before times and came home with a digital wallet full of contacts and a bank account of inspiration.
My final learning is quite simple. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Some days, I tried to attend one too many things at SXSW22, while my best days were better spent paying close attention to the people and ideas around me.