While the major draw of SXSW (to me, anyway) is communing with a bunch of people who are motivated and innovative, there is the starstruck factor with some of the speakers sometimes (most of them are themselves motivating and innovative, so it works). Some of the highlights this year:
Tina Roth Eisenberg delivered my favorite keynote. I will shamefully admit I had no idea who was before she walked up to the stage, but she quickly caught me up and my jaw dropped. She runs a well known design blog called SwissMiss, which is enough for some people. Due to her rule of not ignoring side projects, however, she has grown a national meet up group called CreativeMornings, a studio workspace co-op called StudioMates, a temporary tattoo company called Tattly (classy tattoos drawn by designers!), and a productivity app called TeuxDeux. Yeah, so that’s what she does when she wakes up in the morning. It was an amazingly inspiring talk as she seemed was grounded and optimistic and happy with life. That’s the goal! Watch her talk here.
Chuck Lorreand Neil Gaiman had a chat about Lorre’s career as a producer and brain behind shows like Grace Under Fire, Cybill, Dharma & Greg, Two and a Half Men, and The Big Bang Theory. He’s pretty prolific, and even Ashton Kutcher was in the crowd to verify that Lorre works all the time. This is a horrible photo but they were indeed both wearing black on a black background. So Cash of them.
Tim Ferriss (of the 4 Hour Work Week) gave a great talk about mastering any skill in 6 months. His new book “The 4 Hour Chef” is about cooking, but also about meta-learning and ultimately, lifestyle design. He gave us the steps to start learning anything, and since I have all his books, I had to have him sign the latest. Rock star moment. Really nice guy.
Jane Pratt, publishing mogul of such things as Sassy and Jane Magazines and now xojane.com gave a predictably edgy talk with advice like “Torch Your Bridges” and “Never outgrow your blind ambition.” (Oh, and “Don’t be drunk all day”…practical, yes). She is a take-no-prisoners style of successful and it was great to hear her story of climbing the ladder in the publishing world. She seems to have transitioned easily (it looks effortless from out here but I’m sure she’d disagree) from print to online media because her content has remained up to her standards the whole time. A good lesson about the content being key and not the medium.
Lastly, as a total random surprise, I got to let my inner Gleek shine. It’s not something I talk about a lot, but since I have already confessed my love of pop music, it really isn’t that much of a surprise that I love a weekly comedy/drama centered around high school kids (who are really all way out of high school in real life but whatever) who sing awesome covers of pop songs to avoid having to speak their true feelings? No, it should not surprise you.
The Roku Lounge (where they invite you to come in and “lounge” to escape the craziness of nerd panels and then also try to sell you a Roku TV box) tweeted that Kevin McHale (Artie) and Melissa Benoist (Marley) would be answering questions in the lounge on Sunday. I kind of suspected they would be “live via satellite” like Mariah Carey does whenever she has to be anywhere, but no…there they were, in all their Glee Glory. They chatted and answered questions (so when they’re not filming they go do the Glee live show and tour the country…awesome) and then signed things for all of us. It was enough to make me want to bust out into a Rihanna/Ke$ha mashup.