It is almost impossible to describe an event like SXSW. Everything I write will just represent a fraction of what is going on.
I arrived on Wednesday evening and thanks to the jet lag I was up early on Thursday. So, I walked around the city and got a pretty good impression.
Austin is a lovely place; you can do most things by walking around, and if you need to go a little further, there is a great public transportation system (I just tried several bus lines), Car2Go or Bcycle, where you can rent a bike at nearly every corner.
After picking up my badge, I thought there was not much going on. I got a hint via Twitter to check out the Start Up Crawl. This thing was huge! Fifteen companies took part, and you could l visit their offices and meet people there. I started at Capital One, where in their basement, 20 startups presented themselves. In their offices, there were at least another 20 startups!
A little more than a month and SXSW Interactive will kick off in Austin.
I have just booked my flights and will head to Austin in a few weeks to attend as many interesting sessions as possible.
In the last couple of years, I have attended a few conferences, mainly in Germany. None has really broadened my horizon. 95% of the talks were uninspiring and simply were a repetition of common knowledge (at least for the people who spend a lot of time in the interactive world). Just a few of the presentations really gave an insight that you couldn´t have heard elsewhere or talked about their failures and how they had learnt from them.
This is exactly what I am hoping to take home from Austin: a lot of inspiring stories from people who are much better than I am in what they do. I think you can only really learn from people who know more than you.
My old portfolio site was always on WordPress, but two years ago, I wanted to try out how an updated site would work on Tumblr. So I got myself a nice Tumblr theme and started to build my personal blog on Tumblr.
Two years later, I am moving everything back to WordPress. There are several great blogging systems out there, but WordPress is something I know and it had a great overhaul with version 4. I have also been writing on Medium and thought of dropping my site completely. But I still believe I need to have a “real” website.
There are a few reasons that made me feel that Tumblr is not the right platform: Tumblr seems to be great for sharing small pieces of content: images, GIFs, quotes. But it was never intended as a real blogging platform.
Tumblr seems to be slow. I tested the speed of my site, and it was above 10 seconds. I like images in my blog posts, and Tumblr always compresses them in a way that they look pretty bad. So I uploaded the images to Flickr first and then embedded them into my site—which is one reason the site is so slow. No chance you could even get those images adaptive.
I want to write more in the future, but the editor is not fun to work with.
So I installed WordPress and got myself a nice theme from Elmastudios.
Then came the fun part: How fast can I get this site?
I am a strong believer that how you work affects your outcome. I also strongly believe that it is a must to work together personally. I have nothing against working from home, in a hotel lobby or anywhere else in the world. I love it – from time to time.
However, much more than that I like to work and learn from “real people.” Especially if you work on larger projects, it is a must that the core of the team works together in person.
I have seen a lot of offices and worked in quite a few over the last 20 years. Most of the time they were rather small boxes, where I sat together with 1-2 others. Or they were open space offices, with a lot of people in one room, but at separate tables.
A few weeks ago, I was invited to talk at “This Happened” in Hamburg, where great creatives usually present their work.
I actually wondered why I was invited. I am not a creative. I have not done anything on my own. Of course, I could show one of the projects that we did at Swipe.
But I thought I should talk about something else. “This Happened” is about stuff great people did—ideas they had and worked on to make them happen.
To get to the point where you can say “This happened,” it needs action; it needs “make your idea happen.” And this is what I wanted to talk about.
I wanted to motivate people actually to start executing their ideas instead of just talking about them. Having ideas is easy, but executing an idea is much harder than just having it. You might fail, but you have to learn and move on.
I talked about a few of the things I did. About having ideas, getting it wrong, failing, learning from it, and moving forward… My talk was video-taped, and if you are interested, you can watch it here (sadly, only in German).
When I was in school, I hated to stand in front of my class to “present” something. I always tried to avoid speaking in front of anyone, and most of the time, I succeeded.
On my first job in an agency, I hated to talk on the phone while someone was in the room. Back then, I had no computer on my desk and the Internet had just been invented, so I had to use the phone, as I could not even write a fax without a computer.
I shared my office with two nice account directors, but I only called someone when they left the room or they were on the phone themselves, so it was loud enough in the room that they could not hear what I was saying.
Fast forward 20 years: now I love talking in front of people. How did that happen?
As you grow older, you gain more self-confidence. I think self-confidence is the key to standing in front of an audience and talking about something.