No gamble with content at SXSWV2V (Column)

Martin Waxman shares insights from memorable sessions at the upstart festival

Martin Waxman is president of Martin Waxman Communications, EVP of Thornley Fallis and author of the blog myPalette. 

How could Las Vegas possibly resemble Austin, Texas?

Well, if you visit the downtown tech startup scene, that’s one way.

Martin Waxman

Martin Waxman

The other is SXSWV2V, South by Southwest Interactive’s brasher, upstart sister festival that’s just completed its second year. Set in Las Vegas, it gives a frenetic energy to the more laid back SXSW feel. And it works.

I’ve been fortunate to attend both events and this year; I presented a workshop on how startups and brands can think like a newsroom.

Still in its infancy, the conference is smaller than SXSW and all in one place, and that means it has a cozy, intimate vibe. You run into the same people over and over again, have a chance to meet and get to know them. Chat with high-profile speakers over coffee or a drink. Exchange ideas and business cards.

Here are three sessions that stood out for me:

From Design to De$ign

John Maeda is the former president of the Rhode Island School of Design and current design partner with Kleiner Perkins. He is a visionary in the very literal sense of the word: that is, he approaches the world by observing it minutely, looking for visual patterns and then processing what he sees through his own slightly off-kilter, high design point of view. Design, he said, is finding the right combination, arrangement and reduction of elements that can make sense of chaos. And a good design is both familiar and new. He advises people that design should be baked in at the beginning of every project and not simply used as an add-on.

Meditate to Innovate

Lauren Fritsch is a charming, funny and skillful presenter who can persuade a roomful of hyper entrepreneurs to close their eyes, scrunch up their shoulders, relax, breath deeply and meditate—or contemplate, a more acceptable word in business. She is also founder and lead consultant at TCC Consulting Group and talked about the business case for meditation, how it opens the door to fresh thinking.

Why meditate? It gives us better focus, reduces anxiety, increases creativity and compassion, lowers stress and builds brainpower. And you don’t have to sit cross-legged on the floor for an hour a day to make it work. Fritsch recommends starting with two minutes morning and night and being mindful during repetitive daily tasks such as making the bed, doing laundry or washing dishes. Focus on exactly what you’re doing and then let your mind go.

Fear – The Other F Word

Last year, I met and attended a panel featuring social media agency owner Helen Todd, uber consultant Jey Van-Sharp, photographer Adam Marelli and writer/strategist Jim Hopkinson discussing creativity and the art of failure. (If you’re interested, here’s an interview I did with the panelists on Inside PR.) This year, the group was back talking about how to face up to, conquer and embrace fear. They started by surveying the room: 34% of us were afraid of failure, 28% were afraid of not making enough money and 21% were afraid of being criticized.

Marelli suggested we stop putting ourselves in a bubble and instead place ourselves in an arena where we’re accountable for our fears. Van-Sharp advised us to not settle for being mundane. Stand out—be creative with yourself. Their advice? Decide what you want—the rest is execution. Develop perspective and the right attitude. Create systems. Find a mentor or advisor. And persevere. Here’s a link to their slides.

There aren’t many events that combine the high-quality content you get with experience with an entropic, startup energy. SXSWV2V offers both—three days of disruptive, insightful cognitive dissonance at the intersection of Austin and Las Vegas.

 

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