Bringing South by South West on the same plane as the World Economic Forum might sound outlandish but it is not. I urge you to hold your horses before you close this tab based on a conclusion that you jumped on to.
Attending SXSW was on my bucket list for long and I had the opportunity to immerse in the experience at SXSW 2017. Having been at WEF 2016, the similarities, in different proportions, were stark (no Game of Thrones reference), to say the least. SXSW has, over the years, moved on from being a music festival to being a festival to celebrate the coming together of creativity and technology, providing a keyhole view of the things to come in the marketing, experiential, services and product spaces. I touch upon five aspects of why SXSW is the WEF for the creative soul.
While WEF is the LinkedIn for the global strategy-makers, running major global corporations and governments, SXSW brings a different flavor to the people calling Austin home for a week or more. The movers and shakers at SXSW are the brightest minds in the marketing, technology, thinking and music fraternities. These people are creators. They create experiences that touch the lives of the millions across the globe. They deliberate and discuss about how they can build a world that’s better for those on the planet right now and those who will inhabit the planet later. The WEF participants have a similar thought process but it’s driven way too much through an ‘agenda’. SXSW gives you direction, without setting an agenda.
The human race requires collective wisdom of creators, thinkers and executors. Your view of mixed reality enabling accessible education to the underprivileged can be amplified by several factors when you interact with those who have been working on similar solutions in different parts of the world. That’s just one example. Imagine what can be achieved across the seven different tracks that play out at SXSW!
The reality of existence is that an idea or a solution must make business sense. It doesn’t necessarily mean that it should rake in the green bucks; it must align to corporate goals envisaged by the largest and the smallest organizations in the world. The black-tie events at WEF give way to casual spaces taken over for the duration of the festival by some of the biggest names in the respective industries. SXSW gives a major platform to organizations to show the latest in what they have to offer to enable more enriching and better lives for the humans at large. While SXSW is known for some amazing after-work parties, the business aspect is alive and kicking wherever you see.
As already mentioned once, I like to call WEF the LinkedIn of the powerful who call the shots on the planet. SXSW is more about meeting new people who are there to learn from you as much as you are there to learn from them. While a lot of discussion are invitation-only, there are several opportunities that are open to all, to experience the thinking from global leaders such as National Geographic, Google, Twitter, Facebook, Mashable, HBO, NASA, Accenture and a whole lot more, from all walks of the work. It’s an amazing place to meet up with folks you might not even know of and about the work that they’ve been doing that you might have only heard of.
What does the future workforce look like? It’s not enough to be a technology person who doesn’t get marketing and creativity and vice-versa. The world is more connected than ever and collaboration is the way to go for a workforce that will be more distributed across the planet. If you are figuring where the next wave of ideas will come from, head to SXSW and talk to people, listen to them, have discussions with them. The future of global workforce is more human.
If you are up for learning and unlearning, SXSW is the place to be at. With a plethora of keynotes and sessions across the festival, you might hit a learning burnout if you are not cautious! I must admit that it was my appetite for learning what’s happening around the world, that brought me to SXSW. There is just not dearth of learning avenues at this place. You could just park yourself in a session that might not be remotely related to what you do in your day job and at the end of the session, you will have made that connect.
Just head to SXSW 2018, even if that makes a big hole in your pocket. Think of it as an investment that you are making in your professional and personal life. Start saving up now (I didn’t and I won’t be there)!
This blog was first published on LinkedIn Pulse.