I just got back from an incredible trip to Austin for SXSW Interactive. It’s the section of the conference focusing on the web and new media space, which has grown exponentially since it began years ago. Despite this horrible economy, attendance was up 20% from last year, while music is down. THAT SAYS SOMETHING PEOPLE! What’s so great about the conference is that it’s the one time that the online community from every city comes together to share what’s next, meet new people, meet face to face with virtual friends, exchange ideas to inspire and advance the conversation. I wanted to share some individuals and panels that truly stood out for me:
Gary Vaynerchuk, Tony Hsieh-CEO of Zappos.com, Social Media for Social Good, Randi Zuckerberg and Facebook, Brian Cooper- CEO of A Glimmer of Hope Foundation
1) Gary Vaynerchuk- of Winelibary.com and Wine Library TV fame. He has made himself the voice, branding and marketing master of the Web 2.0 world.
I met Gary this past summer in Vegas during Blogworld and we have since become great friends. He’s amazing at what he does and I am honored to have him as a friend and mentor.
His off-the-cuff, unscripted and inspirational keynotes have become infamous. Fortunately, I finally got to sit in on one for the first time during the fest and it was an experience to say the least. The keynote went over the scheduled hour with most of it being completely Q&A between him and attendees who filled up the entire room. Throughout the entire panel thousands of people watched live around the world and were tweeting up a storm- all about Gary V! I don’t know how he does it, but Gary never fails to deliver spontaneous nuggets like these:
Watch one of his most buzzed about keynotes from Web 2.0 in NYC last September. Trust me- you'll be inspired and empowered:
2) Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.com (Fortune 2009 top 100 companies to work for)
I had heard of Tony, but never actually got to meet him until SXSW where I participated in the Zappos Boxbreak promotion. Before I get into his huge success- I must say he is totally cool, humble and accessible. I want to say he's just a cool dude, but not sure how that sounds! On that note, back to his tremendous entrepreneurial feats- at 24 years old, he sold his company LinkExchange to Microsoft for 265 million and is currently at Zappos where he has helped sales grow from $1.6M in 2000 to over $1 billion in 2008. He and Zappos represent what’s next in the workplace, where’s it’s not about 9-5pm but about creating a culture, a true and sincere connection with consumers and employees. Zappos motto is "Happiness In A Box"- and yes that's exactly what I experienced during their Boxbreak video shoot:
Besides what might seem like a clever marketing tool, that concept transcends many layers of the company. When potential employees undergo training they are offered two thousand dollars to walk away from the job, an incentive that weeds out those who truly believe in the brand and want to be there from those who don’t. Zappos comes out with a yearly culture book, which includes unedited experiences written by employees about the company.
The second half of the keynote, focused on something that gauged everyone's interest: HAPPINESS. He spoke about how success professionally and personally boils down to happiness.
He referred to a great book, “Happiness Hypothesis”, and describes the science of happiness as follows:
Some other quotes to inspire:
“People may not remember what you did or said, but they’ll remember how you made them feel”
“Whatever you’re thinking, think bigger”
“Chase the vision, not the money”
“It’s about building relationships, not networking”
“If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far go together”- Al Gore
3) Social Media for Social Good, Randi Zuckerberg and Facebook
I also got to meet the amazing, beautiful, smart and humble Randi Zuckerberg. We had been exchanging emails for a bit, but never actually met. She turned me on to a panel she was on called Social Media for Social Good. I’ve contemplated a lot recently about what all this means that us social media folk are doing. Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, 4 Square, etc… Why? What’s the point? What’s the bigger picture impact we can have with all of this connectivity and global community at our fingertips? This panel was definitely an insight into what’s possible...
Personally, one of my missions with everything I do is to ultimately bring a voice to bigger issues and initiatives. I would like to go on these trips (like building wells with CHARITY:WATER) and document what people are really doing, make these philanthropic experiences accessible in order to inspire others towards action too. Facebook is one of the social media tools that has been doing a lot. We saw it recently with their presence during the election in conjunction with CNN. I do feel like a big part of this effort lies in the fact that its founder, Mark Zuckerberg and the rest of the core team (Randi Zuckerberg, Dave Morin and others) are all millenials. We have a need to find that greater good with all the amazing resources that we have created and continue to work hard to maintain.
Some standout thoughts I tweeted during the panel:
Some my on the go post panel insights with Liveearth.org's Andy Sternberg:
3) Brian Cooper, CEO- A Glimmer of Hope Foundation
As the story goes, I bumped into Brian Cooper randomly at an event I wasn’t supposed to be at. I started doing my typical video blog and Brian offered his assistance as my cameraman. I later discovered he is the CEO of A Glimmer of Hope Foundation, which brings charity and aid to Africa, Ethiopia, Austin and the UK. He also happens to be working with one of my favorite charities previously mentioned, CHARITY:WATER, on their upcoming trip to Ethiopia to build wells. One of my hopes and goals this year is to go on one of the trips and to participate firsthand with building a drinkable water well in one of these communities.
SOME OTHER HIGHLIGHTS- I'LL LET THE PICTURES TELL THE STORY: