Tuesday, March 19, 2013

What I learned at SXSW

I should write about some crazy tech thing in this space. Talking shoes, perhaps? Maybe I'm supposed to explain the business models of the next decade. But no one has them figured out. Perhaps I should mention all the innovators I finally had a chance to shake hands with? Meh. You don't care.

Everything I saw was amazing. And everything I saw will be obsolete within a year.

Except this.

First, keep your eyes up and smile: Put your phone in your pocket. The real person next to you is doing something interesting. And you are interesting, too. (Even if you don't know it.) You have everything to gain by introducing yourself, shaking hands, being nice. And you have so, so, so much to lose if you don't. SXSW reminded me to say hello to people. Joyously. Without a motive. Or even a plan.

Then, ask a new question: Asking how to get better at something is asking for frustration, number crunching, and incremental improvement. The most powerful questions flip the paradigm. Ask for 10% greater value, and you'll get tiny changes to existing processes. But if you ask for 100x greater value, you'll get a whole new model. Changing the question is the single best opportunity you have to spark creativity.

That's not all I took from SXSW, of course. I learned new ways to construct storylines, a scientific explanation for laughter, why platforms need to precede content, and so much more. But strategies and tactics will not change our lives. Meeting and creating with each other will.

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