Six tips for getting “enough” out of tech events

As I prep for three tech conferences over six days in Austin, I close my eyes, take a deep breath, exhale and open my eyes. “Enough” seems to be hard to identify. In a world of abundance and ubiquitous tech, we constantly seek the optimal balance. I prepare my work and life, clearing out the non-essential to leave room for inspiration. Inspiration comes in the form of people, things and experiences. Each must have time, space and attention in order to fully appreciate their value. So here are a few thoughts on how to prioritize “enough” so that you bring your best self forward and come away with new ideas, friends and an action plan.

  • The human side is really quite simple, like my friend Ted Rubin says, “be good to people.” There will be many new faces and ideas mixed with the old. I thrive on connecting the dots between them all to make the experience all the more rich.
  • Schedule time to pause and reflect, either alone or with someone else. Walk and talks are an easy way to incorporate movement, connection and reflection.
  • Write down your main takeaway(s), tag with context and share (if it would be of value to others). My motto, “knowledge is power, sharing is powerful” definitely applies here.
  • Eliminate the digital distraction of unused apps on your phone. Make sure you know the passwords in case you want to load them back on later.
  • Manage your contacts. When you make a new contact make sure your record it, tag it and follow-up. Loads of apps can make this easy, but do it while you still have context. If you collect a card, write the event and something memorable about the interaction on the back so you can do it “later” (but while it is still fresh). Bring business cards, but also have a picture of yours on your phone to easily share.
  • Pack light. Mix & Match clothes and bring only the chargers you need. Don’t forget an extra battery!

My bag feels remarkably light. No extra papers, books or devices nor flyers or give-aways to leave a lasting impression will accompany me this time. I admit, as a global nomad, one learns the art of packing efficiently. That combined with the incentive of ever decreasing baggage allowance. Nevertheless, my bag seems considerably lighter than in years past when heading to Austin. With smart phone, tablet, watch and noise reduction headphones, I am set. A few mix and match outfits fit for the climate, walking shoes and I am good to go in a carry-on. My backpack is nearly empty, leaving space for a few select goodies to bring home with me.

Although this list is is compiled with conferences in mind, the practice of enough can be applied in many aspects of our lives. I hope you find this list helpful, and welcome your input, sharing and even invitation to walk & talk in Austin to discuss digital life balance.

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#SxSW 2011 Social Media Offline

Ted Rubin said it well, as we sat for a coffee in the Hilton with the buzz of South by Southwest (#SxSW) moving around us. “South-by is like Social Media face to face.” Everyone had a twitter handle @ and a hash tag # to find them and what they do. Celebrities and influencers have “followers”, “friends” and “connections” visible in their entourages and their VIP access. The refueling stations were gathering spaces for re-caffeinating bodies and charging multiple devices. Contacts shared by the Bump App and new friends were made by bumping as you found space to sit for panels. There was an App for everything, predominantly for iOS and Android (Apple iPhone and Google’s development platforms). Those who didn’t have one were quick to add “coming soon!” in their pitch. The few lucky/patient who braved the cues at the temporary Apple Store downtown picked up the new iPad2. Those of us willing to wait were mostly from overseas, knowing that it would be a while before they reach our markets.


After nearly a week of intensive panels, networking and checking out what is new and coming in interactive, I am excited about the future. As in any trade conference, it is easy to get myopic. Is everyone as uber-connected as this gathering of industry professionals often referred to as “geek fest”? Essential to remember that in order to rise above the 8% of “active” social media and smart phone users there will need to be continued expansion and development of infrastructure, accessibility, internationalization, aggregation and filtering. Cultural implications for organizations, leadership, and education systems will require greater outreach, training and better user-interfaces for the non-technical. Communications is changing, the tools are developing and I am very optimistic about their direction as long as we improve design for those who are already technically un-inclined. The more social the tools become, the simpler the interfaces, the greater access to tools that work in different environments for wider needs and people the possibilities are boundless.


Here are some of my tweets from during the last few days in Austin at SxSW:


Fellow #sxswi delegates, Don’t forget to listen /measure outside of the bubble too, 92 still not active in social media/ smart phones


Don’t calculate the ROI of relationships, not rich enough data, use dashboards -@jenvandermeer #mroi #sxswi


Wall street- customer lifetime value is not something the street cares about @janvandermeer#sxswi #mroi


Thanks @jenvandermeer from @dachis for a very entertaining presentation on the ROI of relationships #mroi #sxswi


Great conversation with @globewomen, looking forward to a great #GSW11. Thanks Irene


Confirmed speaking at #GSW11 in Istanbul. Looking forward to more inspiring conversations in May.


Just first did my Skype video meeting on my #iPad2, followed by call with kids, paid for itself already 🙂


iPad 2 Shortages Hit Web & Retail Stores via @mashabletech @mashable


Achieving net-neutrality requires consumers raising their voice, speak up! @~BarryDiller#SXSW


The Internet is a miracle @~BarryDiller #SXSW


Make the truth your weapon and your strength @ch3ryl #pplpwr #SXSW


Overcome Fear of showing of your authentic self. What if it freaks out the white people @ch3ryl# #SXSW #pplpwr


Great talking to @michaelblonde of @commondeeds definitely an App to follow! #SXSW


Self-definition: own your space, name it and be proud of it @funkybrownchick #pplpwr #SXSW


CPM should die -@Jasonfalls #smaroi #SXSW


Unless you married your spouse 3 minutes after meeting them, understand relationships take time @Jasonfalls #smaroi


even data that is infinitely measurable isn’t infinitely perfect. Must measure over time@Jasonfalls #smaroi #SXSW


Better measurement tools are the next big thing to come @Jasonfalls #smaroi #SXSW #swesxsw


@Jasonfalls monitoring the conversation, consider not everyone is online having conversations, ask your customers #SXSW #smaroi #swesxsw


Getting ready for first panel on measuring social media #sxsw #swesxsw #smaroi


Balance between friend and general recommendation, why of results are key #bettersearch #SXSW #swesxsw


Are we losing serendipity? #bettersearch #SXSW #swesxsw


privacy in social search; consider value-add, but need consent, control @barneyp#bettersearch #sxsw #swesxsw


Mood-based search for things to do. understanding intent for search w/Moodfish #bettersearch #sxsw #swesxsw


Simon alpha recommends, allows customization @barneyp #bettersearch #swesxsw #sxsw


Web-> social -> interest -> inferred interest graph @barneyp (Bing) on #bettersearch #swesxsw #sxsw


Google Hotpot integrating social/location/recommendations #better search #swesxsw #SXSW


@charleneli KLM during volcano, FB direct response realtime


Evolution from information to relationship economy – @debs #behuman #SXSW


Congratulations @pblackshaw ! You are going to love Vevey! Welcome to my side of the pond.


Without new social contract, trust is fragile – @debs #behuman #SXSW


Technology changes, humans don’t @debs #behuman #SXSW

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