James Mayes

Can SXSW inspire real change?

In Personal Development, Social Media, SXSWi on March 15, 2010 at 8:05 pm

The sheer variety of opportunity here at South By is difficult to describe, the scale just incredible. I’ve been trying to get more of a handle on the experience as perceived by other people over the last day or so and one trend has become particularly clear.  Everyone I‘ve spoken to is taking away good things they did not come here for. It’s the “stumble across” scenario, but on a scale which is so much more than just coincidence. Its starting to feel as though the event has actually perfected the art of the chance meeting.

I particularly want to recount the experience of one delegate I was talking to last night.  He’s run his own business for over twenty years now.  He’s in the digital media field, they’re considering expansion into certain new markets and this trip was planned as an education and networking session. He’s also in the position where he’s grown the business to have a stable senior management team, a great client base and really steady revenue growth. He could exit now. MBO, trade sale, whatever.  It was on his mind, he’s talked about it with his team. I think the core of his position now is “been there, done that, time for something new”.  I know this because we’ve been talking pretty regularly over the last week.

So, the SXSW experience?  He wants to rebuild that business.  Take it forward with new ideas, new technology. He’ll do it carefully, with the knowledge of all the things that have helped make his business the success it is today – and that’s great.  The real hit though, is the level of energy he’ll take to it.  The guy was literally bouncing of the walls last night (and this wasn’t a “height of the party” moment). I’ve never seen someone experience such a change in energy, passion and inspiration.  He’ll be back next year of course, but it will be different then. He wants to figure out how to get most of his team here with him!

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