Over the last few days I’ve been in Austin Texas attending the South by South West Interactive (#SXSWi) conferences. Sometimes known as ‘Spring Break for Geeks’ I try to get out to this gathering each years because there are so many of my colleagues in attendance and it is an opportunity to meet up with old friends, network, do a little business and a meet a few readers at the same time.
Today is the last day of SXSW (I return home tomorrow) and despite some late nights I woke up this morning with a start on the dot of 5am (jet lag sucks). As I lay in bed reflecting upon the days I’ve just had I just started to feel very very grateful for this opportunity and especially the chance I’ve had this week to interact with some very special people.
A few highlights come to mind:
People Practicing the Art of Saying Hi
Lets start with what has happened constantly, day and night, since arriving. The people who come up and introduce themselves are amazing. Whether they be past or present readers of ProBlogger (or one of my other blogs), members at Third Tribe, previous bloggers from b5media….. the amount of people who have come up to say hi has been amazing.
I think what I enjoy so much about these real time and face to face interactions is that it makes me realize in a more tangible way that what I do as a blogger impacts ‘real people’. I find it very inspiring and a great reminder to keep building a blog here that helps such people to take their blogs to the next level. If you are one of the people who stepped up (sometimes a little out of your comfort zone) to say hi – thank you.
One project I came across on day 1 was Salaam Garage – founded by Amanda Koster (a photographer, author, speaker… and great person) – Salaam Garage brings together a variety of things I am interested in and passionate about – storytelling (with writing, video and image), humanitarianism (partnering with international NGOs) and traveling in teams. You can read more here.
On Friday at 5pm (day 1) I had the opportunity to do a book reading to promote the upcoming 2nd edition of ProBlogger the book (I’ll talk more about this in coming weeks as its launching late April). In the 20 minute session I planned to share what was new in the 2nd edition and run through a case study on my photography site (which is a new chapter in the book).
The session was 20 minutes but 10 minutes in a siren began to sound and an announcement came over the speaker system saying that an emergency had just taken place in the building and that everyone should evacuate. Wow – talk about a mood killer :-) Everyone calmly filed out (literally thousands of people in the building at all of the different sessions taking place at that time).
My stomach sunk a little as I realized how far I’d travelled for this 20 minute session that was now potentially just 10 minutes but even as I traveled down the escalators people were very kind and I met some amazing people. Luckily we were let back in the room 10 minutes later and I was given 10 minutes to finish my presentation.
About half those who had been there returned which was great. The other half of those who were there for the 2nd half were there for a completely different book which was strange but it seemed to go ok!
Photo Shoot – Meeting Jasmine
As I was leaving the book reading (the first time…. during the ’emergency’) a number of people said hi – one of whom was an amazing photographer by the name of Jasmine Star. I’ve long admired Jasmine’s photography and have particularly enjoyed watching her blog develop over the years (she is someone who uses her blog VERY well to build her business – a great case study). Jasmine is a photographer who many of my dPS readers LOVE too.
We only met fleetingly on the elevator but later that evening Jasmine emailed me to ask if she could photograph me. I’d only been telling someone earlier that day that I needed to get some new headshots taken and so when the opportunity came to have someone of Jasmine’s calliber take them I leapt at the opportunity.
The shoot was fun and it was interesting to watch how Jasmine approached it – but even better as the opportunity to hang and connect with someone like Jasmine who is a very genuine person. You can see some of the results of the shoot at her blog (tell me which shots you like best as I’ve got to choose some).
There are numerous other great things that have happened at SXSW this year. We had a great meetup for Third Tribe (at a pretty wacky bar), I spent a great relaxing afternoon with a smaller group of bloggers at a house party, there have been some fun larger parties in the evenings, I’ve done a number of fun interviews with both bloggers, media and for the promotion of the book and have had opportunity to catch up with some good friends who I’ve not seen for a while.
All in all I’m feeling very very grateful and lucky to be in the position I’m in. I’m also feeling pretty inspired to keep at what I do and to be as useful as possible.