LC Goes to SXSW

Inspiration found at one of the coolest events in the country

SXSW in Austin is the Mecca of conferences for tech, media, and interactive fans, not to mention fans of film and music. I was lucky enough to spend a week there this year. My only assignment? Get inspired. Luckily for me, there was inspiration on every corner and this blog post could have been more of a short story. Luckily for you, there is a limited word count.

So, grab your coffee and saddle up – time to read about the six people and things that lit my inspo fire.

Some Brand’s Trash Is Another Brand’s Treasure

Eric Liedtke, head of global brands at adidas, discussed the decision to create a shoe made from recycled ocean plastic. It all started by asking what they could do to help the greater good while staying authentic to who they are. Once they had a north star, they took the idea off of a PowerPoint and put it into real action.
The first pair of shoes was completed as a statement of intent to commit the brand to helping eliminate waste in our oceans. Using 11 plastic bottles per shoe, adidas is on track to eliminate 55 million pieces of plastic in 2018, and they’re not stopping there. Within the first three months, adidas eliminated plastic in all their offices and have set a moonshot to transition away from using plastic in any of their shoes and clothing.

Okay, Now Ladies Let’s Get Information

The Girls' Lounge, hosted by The Female Quotient, was packed wall-to-wall with inspiration – and not just for women. Transforming an event center into a chic hangout, The Girls' Lounge was a place for attendees to indulge in thought leadership discussions from equality and making allies in the workplace to becoming a change agent and advancing innovation. Over 80 female panelists joined the three-day conversation. The Female Quotient believes – regardless of gender – there is power in the pack.

Eating Inspiration for Breakfast

Daymond John needs no introduction. He reviews his goals twice daily – once in the morning and then once again at night because he likes to dream about them. Quite honestly, I could end this section right here because if that’s not inspiration, I don’t know what is. But what I connected with most in John’s session was when he walked out in street clothes – not a suit and tie – to talk about his journey as a wildly successful entrepreneur and how it started by mastering simple human interaction. In a world where we’re oftentimes more connected to our phones than the people around us, it was a good reminder that no technology, no self-help book, no single big idea will take the place of respect and hard work. 
He also recorded an impromptu video in response to a teacher asking what advice he would give to a group of dyslexic children (John learned he was dyslexic in his mid-20’s). It was awesome, and I cried.

Diversity Can’t Be a Buzzword

As Melinda Gates so eloquently put it, “The workforce has changed. The workplace has not.”

Diversity isn’t a new conversation, but the way we’re acting on it is changing. Regardless of experience and industry, we all want to be in a room where good decisions are made. That can only happen when we look around the table and see people who look, think, talk, and [insert unlimited number of qualities here] different than us.

By putting more people who think and do differently than each other in power positions, we can change the workplace.
  • As employers and employees, we need to demand a more diverse pool of resumes for every open job. Make it a priority for hiring managers to hold the interview process until we have a well-balanced selection of applicants. 
  • Take a beat when someone disagrees before reacting. We can’t be thought leaders if we don’t keep an open mind.
  • Stay grounded in the idea that more diverse groups make better decisions. That may mean changing up the boardroom, too.  

The Dell Experience

I sold out to Apple years ago, but hear me out on this one. Of all the tech brand activations at SXSW, The Dell Experience topped my list. And not because it was the coolest thing at the conference or because they had snacks on snacks, but because Dell gave me an authentic brand experience.

I am personally very skeptical of hammocks after one snapped on me in high school, but I took a lie down and was instantly teleported to the coast to explore an ocean view and the sounds of waves. Okay, maybe I wasn’t teleported, but VR goggles can make it feel that way! For the next ten minutes, my travels took me around the world to relaxing beaches, forests and trendy homes overlooking beaches and forests. The technology is nothing new to the industry, but Dell found a way to give me a moment of calm in the chaos to take a breather from the overstimulation that is SXSW.

Ready for (Re)launch

Tal Shmueli relaunched his own life by asking his friends and family what they truly thought of him in an all-day hackathon + intervention hybrid. The goal was to create a plan of action for what Tal would try next based on questions and observances from his connections about his personal and professional life – the only (only!) caveat being he’d need a bit more time if the action plan involved moving to another country. Now, he’s sharing his methodology with others who might be looking for a change in some area of life. Hackmeathon is a big, bold idea that intentionally eliminates ego from the decision-making process by putting the power in the hands of others. It’s just wild enough to work.   

So, while I only had space to share six people and things that inspired me, I can confirm that SXSW was off the blockchain – though that’s a topic I’ll save for when I better understand it. Did you make it to SXSW 2018 or anytime previously? If so, tell us what inspired you in the comments!

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