Archives for February 2011

A Newbies Guide to SXSW

I had a conversation with someone today that will be attending SXSW for the first time.  He was looking for what to expect/prepare for, etc.  So below are some of the things I have learned, best practices, etc.

1 – Wear the most comfortable pair of walking shoes you own.  Do NOT go buy a new pair of shoes now – it is too late to break them in and make sure they are comfortable.  Find that ugly old pair of sneakers in the back of your closet if you must.  Comfort is critical.  You will walk miles and be on your feet 18+ hours a day (if you are doing it right!).

2 – Don’t shake hands.  Fist bump if you must, but so many people coming from all over the world bring in flu strains your body won’t be expecting.  Better safe than sorry (and I’ve been sorry more times than safe, I am afraid).  I also don’t recommend using hand sanitizer right after you shake hands with the CEO of that great company you just met – might send the wrong message 🙂

3 – Chapstick rocks.

4 – Don’t carry anything that you can’t fit in your pockets.  You will either regret you did and/or lose it. After 18 hours you will hate that “comfortable” backpack.

5 – Be wary of the weather and pack accordingly.  You will be outside a lot.  And sometimes the weather even comes inside (like it did at our party last year when the roof leaked!). If it is hot, a big floppy hat is a lifesaver. Doubles as an umbrella.

6 – The only thing I carry besides my wallet and iPhone (and the charger) is a bottle of water.

7 – Use FourSquare – that’s how you can find the stuff that isn’t in the official program.

8 – Take advantage of the hallway track.  Some of the best friendships and business deals are made informally in the halls of the convention center.

9 – Party well.  By that I mean have fun, but pace yourself.  There are a lot of parties and a lot of people.  And everyone has a camera phone.  If you end up in a viral video on YouTube, make sure it is for the right reasons!

10 – If you are with others always set a few times and places to meet back up each day in case you get separated.  AT&T did much better with cell coverage/reliability last year than the year before, but relying only on your phone may leave you alone.

BonusSee my session!

Got some more helpful tips?  Add them in the comments!

Lovers are whatever they are. You cannot fight this.

I work for a great company that sees people as people, and measures them based on how much they love our work, and take care of the customers we work for.

While we love to have employees that are in loving and stable relationships, we don’t judge what those relationships are.  We recognize, and provide benefits to both “alternative” (whatever that even means any more) and traditional (you know, 50% plus fail in five years) relationships.

I’m actually quite proud that here, deep in the heart of Texas, where some might expect some lifestyle prejudices (and they certainly do exist) – at our company they are not expected to exist. Like a snake – when we find them, we eradicate them.

The best people I have ever worked with have been in a happy personal relationship.  They have someone to care for. Someone they want to earn the respect of.  Someone they trust to have their backs. That could be a husband or wife. Or even a best non-sexual friend.  Or in my case right now, two young adult children that I still need to inspire, meld, guide (and feed, cloth, and educate, but that is a different topic!)

I work in a company where they don’t care if my lover is a man or a woman – or if I have one at all.

But we do know that happy employees deliver more, stay around longer, and show customers more love. So we encourage happy. We include partners, friends and family in our events (my son has attended many with me).  It is all about how we work together to change the world for customers.  Even if our worlds are vastly different. Customers still need cared for in the same ways.  Code isn’t written “gay or straight” – it is just written, and it is just bad or good.

I’m glad I lived in many places in the world that erased my prejudices and enhanced my world view.  I am glad I am not a close minded ass-hat.  I am glad I can look at people, beyond their religion, sexual orientation, or love of Windows vs Mac and just find a way to work with the human behind the face.

I am a Mac person.  So is my girlfriend.

Would you think less of me if I were Windows, or she were he?

If so, rethink your life instead of judging mine. Or anyone else’s.

And yes – this was driven by the loss of a great friend that never saw the difference between black, or white, gay or straight.  Not even Republican verse Democrat. She was the most open minded, liberal draft dodger, lesbian, Reagan voting, man-loving hypocrite of a human being I have ever loved. And she could sing.

And I miss her.

I wish you could all have learned as much from her as I did.