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SXSW Series: Top Ten Things I Learned at South By Southwest

March 16th, 2010

So I am on the plane flying away from Austin and SXSWi and headed to Tampa to join up with my family. I learned some interesting lessons during my first trip to South by Southwest and I hope you find them useful.

(On Thursday I will write a more in depth article about one of my particular observations, so watch for that.)

*** I must give much much credit for this post to my BFF ElizabethPW. Many of the ‘backchannel” conversations we had while walking around Austin, during our morning coffee time or afternoon downtime are reflected in my list below. ***

Top Ten Things I Learned at South by Southwest:

1. All the cool kids call it “South By”. I still call it either SXSW – and I love hearing Nicky Hajal @tumbledesign actually prononunce that – or “South By Southwest”.

2. I really need to learn how to pack like Jonathan Fields. I brought too many clothes and way too many shoes. Next year: Two pairs of my favorite jeans,  a few shirts, a hoodie and two pairs of shoes.

3. You don’t need to by a pass. Chris Guillebeau shared this tip with me in January and because Chris really knows his stuff, I followed his lead. And if SXSWi keeps it’s current setup (the subject of Thursday’s post), you can get a ton of value and only experience minor inconveniences without a pass.  Conversations can happen everywhere, connections can happen everywhere and a sxswi badge does not enhance either of those experiences.

4. Set up the how/when/where of connecting with important people BEFORE you arrive in Austin. I missed seeing some people I really value just because I didn’t coordinate beforehand. Once the bedlam of South by Southwest begins, tracking people down becomes incredibly difficult, if not impossible.

5. Be very solid about who you are before you arrive in Austin.  The air around SXSWi can get very thin and very heady. Are you the kind of person who is going to run from party to party or chase after Gary V.’s flash wine tastings or not. It’s really easy to fall into the trap of thinking you are missing something if you aren’t at this place or connecting with these high profile people. It can be tempting to starting doing things or behaving in a way that isn’t reflective of who you truly are.

6. Know your limits. Because I am primarily an introvert, I have to know what I can and can’t do if I want to protect my energy. Even extroverts can get overwhelmed by the crazy schedule of events. Being aware of what you need to keep your energy and be your best, most authentic self is critical in such an intense environment.

7. Introduce yourself. I can’t tell you the number of parties/events I attended where people did not do this. They stuck with their crowd and didn’t open their energy to including new people. It doesn’t take much to smile and make contact.

8. Be kind. There are two heroes of my sxswi experience that I will thank privately because they, like me, are introverts. They are so well connected and were incredibly kind to introduce me to people, finagle invitations for me to closed parties and check in with me from time to time. I tried to be kind to others with the limited time/contacts I had. Being kind costs nothing and means so much to the recipient.

9. Most of the public parties are not designed for connecting and conversing with people you don’t already know. This makes me sad because that is the one thing I heard people craving over and over again. BUT if you know these mega-parties are loud and often dark, you can set your expectations accordingly.

10. Sometimes when you meet the people you know online, they are way WAY better than you even imagined. And sometimes, they totally suck. I experienced both. It was a great reminder that people can put forth whatever personality they want to online. The only way to determine it’s truth is to meet them in real life.

Bonus: Have a roommate or core person who really gets you at this event with you. It is overwhelming at best and being able to decompress and debrief in a completely transparent way is critical.

Those are the biggest takeaways I am bringing home from South By Southwest. If you have questions about it, ask away. I can’t promise I know the answer, but I will do my level best. 🙂

The ROI of Relationships

March 4th, 2009

Someone asked me to explain “the point” of social media the other day. I thought for just a moment and replied “It’s about building relationships.” “And what is the point of that?” came the skeptical retort. “Well, no matter what you are selling, you are in the business of relationships. If you don’t think you are, you’re business isn’t going to be around for very long.”

For those of you who have signed up for my “3 Keys for Kicking Up Your Maverick Mojo” you know that one of the most critical Keys is called “It’s All About Relationships”. I passionately believe that if we are going to succeed in today’s economy, it won’t be because of whatever fabulous product or service we offer, it will be because of our ability to foster truly meaningful relationships.

How do we do that? It starts with a true desire to be of service. Does a client or even a competitor have a problem you can solve? Or perhaps you know someone who can help them solve it? Step in and offer to be of help, even if it doesn’t make you a penny. The deposit you just made in the relationship bank will reap huge dividends in the future.

I’ve had clients do this and then they’ve gotten calls “out of the blue” from the people they helped that led to very lucrative business transactions.  A coincidence? No – it’s just an example of the ROI of Relationships.

Because I am so committed to doing business this way and because I can’t ever learn enough about how to do it better, I am thrilled that the theme of SOBCon09 is “The ROI of Relationships”. An incredible panel of speakers will teach what they know and then we, the attendees, get to put our knowledge into action on a live project. Sound like fun, yes?! I’m going and hope to see you there!

Announcing: The Rockstar Sisterhood

February 27th, 2009

AvatarWow! The game I am playing keeps getting bigger and bigger! My dear friend and colleague Dr. Mollie Marti asked me about a month ago if I would be interested in partnering (actually I think she said “playing”) with her to design and deliver an amazing group coaching program for women entrepreneurs.

One of the great things about my life is that I get to CHOOSE the things I want to do and this proposition from Mollie, whom I respect and adore, was simply to delicious to pass up. So, we talked it through and quickly and easily ( a hallmark of being “in the flow) put together The Rockstar Sisterhood – a six month mastermind program for women entrepreneurs who are ready to Kick It!

If you are curious about this kind of program and whether it would be a good fit for you, you can check out our pre-launch page and sign up to be “at the front of the line” when we make our formal announcement. Gotta tell ya – it’s gonna ROCK!

The Rockstar Sisterhood

An Online Movie – and YOU are the Star

January 21st, 2009

Getting Your clips to me: Use Great for sending large attachments!

FINAL DEADLINE EXTENSION: This is it – the final deadline extension for this project. I want as many mompreneurs as possible to have a chance to be in this viral video. Deadline is: Thursday, February 12, 2009. This is it! I gotta get this project put together so if you want to be in it, get your tush movin!!!

I am changing the software I will use to piece the clips together, so your clip can be in the following formats: .asf, .avi, .dvr-ms, .m1v, .mp2, .mp2v, .mpe, .mpeg, .mpg, .mpv2, .wm, and .wmv. Again, if you know how, add your logo or URL to your clip.

Last Deadline Extension: Okay, okay!!! I hear you. You want to be in this, you just need a little more time. So, you’ve got until Sunday, February 8 at midnight EST to get your clip to me. Email it to sarah at and put video clip in the subject line. Also post a comment here to let me know you’ve submitted an entry (just in case cyberspace eats your email!).

Call me crazy but I’ve gotten this wild idea to put together an online movie that stars other Maverick Mompreneurs. It’s an updated version of The I AM Movie that I posted way earlier on this blog.

Here is my idea:

-You send me a very short, downloadable video clip (.wmv’s please) of you completing this statement: “I Am _______” fill it in with whatever adjective(s) you think best describes you. For example, “I am One Smart Cookie” or “I am amazing” or ‘I am a wife, a mom, and an amazing business woman” (ok that one was kind of long). You get the idea?

-If you know how to stick your logo on your clip, all the better.

-I will go through all the clips I receive and pick the ones with great energy, originality, savvy and hip-ness and splice together a viral video, complete with music. If you are chosen, you’ll get to see it first to make sure you want to participate.

So fire up those flip cameras and laptop cameras and capture YOU!  But hurry, the deadline for entries is February 5. Post your downloadable link as a comment, okay? You can ask any questions there, too.

Need help converting your clip to .wmv? Scott Stratten was kind enough to recommend this program:

Can’t wait!

Social Media Telesummit 2009

December 30th, 2008

This event is one of the few multi-day virtual events I really look forward to.  This year’s is especially exciting, not just because I’ve been invited to speak but because I will be on the line listening to every single speaker!  My friend Leesa Barnes has put together a roster of social media superstars and I don’t want to miss a single word any of them have to say!

Seems Leesa herself feels the same way about it herself! See, Leesa is considered a social media expert. She’s written a book, has been nominated for social media awards and continues to influence many with her ideas.

But, I have a secret to share with you… Leesa doesn’t “get” social bookmarking, a social media strategy.

I’m serious. Here’s a social media expert who doesn’t quite understand how social bookmarking can boost her business.

So, Leesa has invited Maria Reyes-McDavis aka the Web Success Diva to present on this very topic at the 2009 Social Media Telesummit. Maria will share with you how to use social bookmarking to:

* How to implement a social bookmarking strategy for your blog and/or website that will save you time, effort, and headaches

* What social booking is and why you should even care

* The #1 mistake to avoid in your social bookmarking strategy that could cost you your reputation and online rankings.

 Maria’s session is just one of the many sessions you’ll hear at the 2009 Social Media Telesummit, an 8 day virtual event taking place entirely over the phone from January 21-30, 2009. Check for all the details.

Hurry! There are only 247 seats available and once the sessions start on January 21st, the doors close. Go to to grab your seat.

Can’t wait for this!