Day 5: The Last-Minute Hustle

The following blog post comes from Tatiana Seijas from Alma DDB. 

When you’re setting out for SXSW Interactive for the first time, you’re full of high hopes and a killer to-do list about a mile long: go to ALL the panels you favorited, eat at all the foodie places your friends recommended, see President Obama speak in person, get into every party you RSVPed to weeks in advance, tour Austin like a local, experience at least one “mind-blown” techy innovation, etc. But by day 5, you realize not only that you didn’t cross half those things off your list, but that your list actually grew as you found new things you planned to “come back to before you leave.”

With just a few hours left in Austin, my day 5 was the ultimate exercise in prioritization. I had to make some brutal cuts and quick decisions, but I have to say the highlights were totally worth it:

  • There wasn’t much time to tour landmarks this week – if it wasn’t within a 3 block radius of the convention center, it wasn’t happening. But I was able to wander by the State Capitol this morning like a good tourist should. It was BEAUTIFUL:

    Austin - Capitol Building
  • I’d spent all week trying to run from a panel in one building to another interesting session a few blocks away for the next time slot. For the sake of painting an accurate picture, you should know that a) I’m 7 months pregnant, and b) it was a toasty 90 degrees in Austin today. So really, the struggle was going to be very real if I didn’t get as strategic about location as I was about content. To my surprise, the sessions I chose that were relatively close together were easily the best I saw all week:

    • Motherhood to Manager: Keeping Career After Baby – Judith Bitterly, Chief of Staff at Intel Security was insightful and motivating, and she offered some very strong points and helpful tips about managing a career while being a mom. Since I’m getting ready for maternity leave I figured I could use a few notes, but this panel was actually fantastic for career-driven women in all stages of life who already do or plan to have a family. Primarily, she insisted on setting a schedule that will work for both your employer and for your family as far in advance from your first maternity leave as possible. The idea is to get your managers and coworkers used to your shift in schedule and prove that your productivity will not decline after a change in hours – basically so they don’t naturally assume you’re slacking just because you’re more rigid with your hours. She also suggested carving out about one hour a day during your leave for you to stay on top of industry news, urgent emails, etc., and scheduling one monthly lunch meeting with your supervisor and another with your coworkers to stay in the loop on daily happenings so there’s less to catch up on when you’re back. Also – and this applies to all of us gals, not just moms – she brought up the common verbal mistakes women tend to make which undermine your assertion: 1. Apologizing unnecessarily, 2. “I think” instead of “I know”, 3. Overuse of the word “maybe”, 4. Ending sentences on an up note/question. Maybe we can all keep these notes and try to catch ourselves when we use them in our communications?

    • Rotten Tomatoes: Your Opinion Sucks! – Not all of the sessions for day 5 were soooooooo heavy. This one was an entertaining example of smart content – I’d even dare to call it native content within the realm of what can sometimes be really boring panels. Instead of lecturing or showing off their own work, the Rotten Tomatoes reviewers let someone from the audience bring up a TV show or film first, give their personal take on it, and then the reviewers would either agree or disagree. The audience also participated throughout by holding up “fresh” or “rotten” paddles to chime in with their opinion. It was the most unique format I’d seen all week, and I’m curious to see how sessions in the future can be reinvented to be more interactive without necessarily being a 4 hour workshop.

  • I got a chance to swing through the Health Expo and Tech Expo and found a pretty sweet video game you can attach to your workout equipment to keep you moving (like a Wii on steroids), and saw someone hold a plank for 15 minutes to win $100 Whole Foods gift card (I promise I could’ve won, but apparently you can’t play if your belly touches the floor. Boo.) I also spent a significant amount of time looking for this song wig headphone contraption Adweek was raving about, but no such luck.

  • “All the foodie places” was quickly reduced to good BBQ and doughnuts. There was no waiting in the 4-hour line for Franklin’s (ain’t nobody got time for that!) but a friend recommended Terry Black’s just outside of Downtown Austin where a little bit of brisket, a couple of ribs and some mac & cheese definitely checked the AMAAAAZING BBQ box. After that, a quick stop at Voodoo Doughnuts meant Cocoa Puff smothered goodness on the go as I walked to my next session. Thumbs all the way up.

  • I was pretty bummed that I missed the Samsung house since I hadn’t tried out any VR gadgets yet and it was THE big topic for the week, but as luck would have it the Samsung team happened to be staying at my hotel! We pulled up in our Ubers at the same time, and they must’ve sensed that I was really geeked out to find them because they gave me a personal demo of their new VR camera that can attach to any Samsung phone so you can create Virtual Reality content on the go. Pretty sweet.

With that, I have to say that my SXSW experience for 2016 is a wrap. Thank you for having me Austin, it’s been really, really weird… which is how we should keep it, right?

Guest Author DDB Blog