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SXSW 2019
was really great this year – if you don’t know about the event take a look at our previous blog about SXSW. It was a total blast! Inspirational, educational and a LOT of fun.

Here’s a little video I made with update live from Austin:


Why this year made a big impact?

  • I needed to have a break from usual work and life.
  • There were some big ideas and concepts about life and society in general that were explored here.
  • It was the most enjoyable SXSW that I had attended to date – from both the sessions attended, but more importantly the people that I shared the experience with.

What sessions I most enjoyed while I was there

I attended more sessions in the five days than I have ever done before – and I think I picked really well! My favourite four, most impactful sessions were:

  1. Embrace your whole self/history
  2. How to run a Web design agency… or how not to (initially) Lol
  3. UI design simplification – it takes a lot of work to make a simple design!
  4. Mindfulness – the power of time as your greatest currency.

Here are the key points that I took away from these sessions.

  1. Embrace your whole self/history – A fabulous journalist gave a slide with various photos of herself in various guises from different parts of her life. She reflected and reminisced on how some memories were painful and some photos were embarrassing – but all these memories and experiences led her to be the very person she is today. And so that we should not look back with pain or embarrassment, but embrace what has come before – accept it, make peace with it, and embrace it to enable us to be a force for the future!
  2. How to run a Web design agency – This talk was given by Michael Nieling from Ocupop. The most impactful and memorable part of this presentation for me was when Michael talked about the transition from a small company to one that could scale. Where he had to stop being the superstar deliverer and micro-manager and start empowering his team, and delegating deliver responsibility as well as the power to make autonomous and important decisions. This resonates so closely for me – especially in my own business – where my team are holding me accountable and encouraging me to empower them – and micromanage much less! The next part that I absolutely love was one there are no minimum holiday allowances – you can take as much holiday as you want as long as you deliver what you are hired to do – and there is flexibility to do the hours you want and work from where you want. I absolutely love this. And more so there are team events – yearly or even more often – where the company pays for the whole team to go somewhere exotic to figure things out and bond as a team. I’m so setting my goal to be able to send a small contingent of my team to SXSW 2021
  3. UI design simplification – I loved this presentation. It was a Pecha Kucha style deck, where you get basically 6 minutes 40 seconds to present, and only 20 seconds per slide, with 20 slides before they automatically transition. The presenter took a very complex and horrendous user design that was an unusable detergent dispenser in the laundry room of her apartment block – and redesigned it in a beautiful and user-friendly way. She showed us the process of how she got there via User Experience knowledge, data and design/artistic flair. The key message is it takes a significant amount of energy to make something significantly simple!
  4. Mindfulness – The famous American chef called Matt Jennings gave a Q&A discussion in regard to his experience of how mindfulness had improved his success, but most importantly enormously increased his happiness and improved his wellbeing – both mentally and physically. One of the biggest nuggets of gold I got from this session was the concept that money is not one’s most important currency, and most certainly does not equal happiness. In fact, the most important currency you have is time. And one has the responsibility of spending this currency; spending time wisely. i.e. making decisions about what you want to do with your time, with your life. And not firefighting all the time, or over committing or forever being ‘busy’ trying to over-achieve. I love this concept – a fabulous crystallisation of my current thinking.

What I got out of it versus what I hoped for 

Before going this was my thinking:

“What I’m hoping to get out of SXSW this year is new knowledge, connections, and experiences. Maybe also some memories, ideas, inspiration and motivation. Not to mention energy, passion and enthusiasm for technology, and the rest of my year!”


Okay elaborating a little; it cemented my ideas and ideals around entrepreneurship and made me want to double down in continuing to grow my own business! Lots of new knowledge and ideas, and confirmation/reassurance/expansion of the topics and themes I was most interested in. I re-enforced connections and made some amazing memories – but my networking & meet-ups were all a bit disastrous (insomuch that all the meetings I had booked up were essentially no-shows 😔 – so I must try harder on that next time). Inspiration & motivation came in spades. Embrace your all; join the dots – don’t apologise for every part of you – embrace it all; love it!

What I was excited about seeing

  1. Gary Vaynerchuk – sadly not present or presenting this time – as far as we could all tell.
  2. A moment of technology awesomeness where something I was sceptical about blows me away. From my point of view, this year was not all or even just about technology; for me, it was about insights to people, to ways of working, and some interesting political insights too; and some really thought-provoking sessions on the power of technology, the impact to society, especially is social media good-or-bad. Maybe it’s neither?
  3. Something really cool, new or fresh in UX and UI design and/or research. I’m not sure if I saw anything completely new – but I did seem a lot of things that cemented my views and ideas. Like the power and impactful-ness of simplicity and minimalism in great design.
  4. Something completely new; a new app/platform/service that is amazing and that we can start using and playing around with in Austin. Hmm, we well to a panel in regard to a new micro-video sharing platform called Quidi. An attending friend of mine quickly bought up the domain they hadn’t yet brought for Zero dollars – doh! If the service takes off that might be of value!
  5. Something to do with data analysis or data visualisation that is interesting or stunning or surprising or thought-provoking – or even something cool on infographics. Nope – I didn’t really see anything in this regard, to be honest. However, I did stumble upon the amazing presentation from Dr Wolfram again today, which is very cool!

Will I be attending next year?

It is certainly my aim to go again! Perhaps next year will be too soon. My goal is to attend the year after, in 2021 and attend with a group/team as part of Digital Technology Labs. We do hope you enjoyed, and please don’t forget to comment, and signup for our newsletter.

Any final thoughts?

Did you go to SXSW 2019, or are you planning on attending in coming years? We’d love to hear your thoughts about it.


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