Hail, Fail, or Flail at SXSW

By: Matthew Anderson, CMO

This is my fifth time at SXSW, I think. I’ve lost count. But having gone now a number of times, one thing is consistently true for every time I’ve been: it’s a wildly mixed experience. It’s just a given that there’s going to be some really bad, some decent, and some absolutely amazing stuff. The trick, of course, is to plan, mix it up and get lucky enough so that you end up with more good/amazing.

For anyone who’s gone before, you know it’s not that easy to do. There are well over 200 scheduled sessions every day for six days, an impossible amount of content to take in. So most just scratch the surface on the potential of SXSW. But I’ve also learned you have to be willing to go with the flow, make split decisions and let go of a lot of thing you were hoping to see.

Here’s a quick rundown of my top-5. For each, you should look them up, follow them, read their books, or whatever. I’m certain you will find their thinking compelling as I did.

The End of Average, Todd Rose
I wrote a little about this one in my first post. The End of Average is something every one of us needs to read. It’s a compelling, well-researched, and poignant argument that proves we have all been doing things wrong for, well, just about forever. Businesses, the government, and our educational system are all largely based on statistical averages. Mr. Rose lets us know exactly why this is not only wrong, but how it’s hurting us all as individuals, students and professionals. It’s now high on my reading list.

How To Stop Speaking in Bullshit, Jon Favreau and Jon Jones
The minute I read this headline, I knew it was for me. As someone who has spent much of my life talking about marketing, advertising and business in general, I have developed a pretty healthy repertoire of bullshit. I know it’s there. I try to avoid it. But it’s hard. And this is what Favreau, Obama’s former speechwriter, and Jones, Obama’s digital strategist, explained in detail, but also gave some poignant bits of advice on how we can all (and I mean all) do better.

The Eyes of Robots and Murderers, JJ Abrams and Andrew Jarecki
This one was a guilty pleasure. Getting to see one of today’s hottest filmmakers talk about his trials and tribulations on Star Wars and his upcoming series, Westworld, was indeed a fascinating way to spend an hour. I knew less (almost nothing) about Jarecki, but he proved to be a powerful storyteller as well with great films to his credit. Also an entrepreneur, he shared a turnkey movie-making/storytelling app called Knowme. I downloaded it instantly and you should too.

Daring Greatly, Brené Brown
Based on the premise of Roosevelt’s famous speech, Brené Brown spent an hour letting us into her life of shame (she’s a shame researcher) and courage. Her ability to keep us enthralled with every was confounding, and her Texas drawl was like butter.

Interactive Keynote – Kevin Plank, Founder, Chairman & CEO of Under Armour
Kevin is an inspired leader. His clarity, vision and passion had us in awe and for him and Under Armour almost instantly. A self-made billionaire, he talked about the earliest days when he couldn’t scrape together enough change for tolls. He also shared his personal and business philosophies that had everyone rethinking their own focus and purpose.

Matthew is responsible for driving growth for MMC. He oversees all aspects of Corporate Strategy, Branding, Marketing, PR and Business Development. Matthew loves tackling a client’s biggest issues. He has a proven history of building businesses and teams, a deep understanding of the digital environment, is a passionate promoter of agency culture, and holds the belief that anyone can make a difference.

For more insights from MMC at SXSW, follow @MMCtweets or #MMCsxsw