It Takes Leaving Austin to Know it Better at SXSW V2V

IMG_6284Yesterday was a full day of programming, one-on-one meetings, and the great synchronicity of surprise meetings in the lunch-line hallway or at the Tech Cocktail reception at the Chandelier bar, as Day 2 of SXSW V2V unfolded.

At the top of my favorites list were two very different talks — the morning keynote by John Maeda and an early afternoon panel of three current and former NFL players.

Maeda is one of the keenest technology design observers anywhere. After a lengthy career of teaching, researching, and administrating in higher education, he took roles (simultaneously) at Ebay and KPCB, where he currently gets to keep an eye out for the coolest stuff on the planet. kpcb

For Austinites (or anyone, really) who care to let John and his team know what they are working on that would be of interest to KPCB, you can let him know through this Fluid Survey he created for V2V.

Every great speaker develops their own style and I really enjoyed Maeda’s engaging yet conversational delivery. He was full of wonderful sound bites – here are just a few, which I’m no doubt paraphrasing:

  • I don’t think we (people) are that creative, so designs get repeated frequently…and that’s ok
  • Whether to weigh more heavily the opinion of a designer or a project leader is a question of social engineering not design excellence
  • My use of twitter is as much public therapy for me as it is communicating to an audience
  • Every time I want to learn something I buy a book
  • The goal for much of what I do isn’t necessarily to elevate design, but to reveal it
  • The best design is both familiar and novel

And finally, I loved this answer during the Q&A to the question “What is/are your current favorite physical and digital product(s)?” to which he replied “For physical, it would be rocks, which is interesting because they don’t do anything, and for digital, I’d have to say ‘nothing’ since I’m kind of mad at everything right now, because nothing works, like no matter how great your smartphone is, it still drops calls, etc.” achos

The afternoon panel, involving Ronnie Cameron and brothers Emmanuel and Sam Acho, who played at UT-Austin, was my other favorite of the day.

It was really a treat, because they spoke very frankly to a small audience about the day-to-day real life experiences of being in the National Football League – arguably one of the most competitive professions on the planet.

A favorite early quote in that panel was “ten will get you ten” when they were talking about NFL contract negotiations. The reference was to ten individual sacks of the quarterback during a season by a defensive player having the potential to result in a $10 million per year contract, at the four-year resigning milestone. That is definitely a high stakes job performance goal worth noting!

The other major highlight of the day was the synchronicity of making new acquaintances with fellow Austin-ites – something that Josh Baer mentions frequently, regarding the magic of Austin’s Capital Factory, where I serve as a mentor.

Even though I’ve lived and worked in the tech scene in Austin for 20 years, meeting successful, clever new folks from the hometown is always a delight. And, although I feel like I do a reasonably good job of venturing out to new circles of people, it takes attending an event like V2V and meeting other accomplished ATXers for the first time as a terrific reminder of how important it is to avoid complacency when it comes to keeping your professional network fresh.

Get your bowling shoes ready – onward to Day 3!

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