Nine Months: Unfiltered.

There is a lot that can happen in nine months. You can grow a real, live, human being in your belly. Appear on and be voted off of American Idol. Take a cooking class. Begin ninja apprenticeship. Train for a marathon. Write a novel. (Thank you Alan for contributing to my list of things you can accomplish in nine months. You, sir, are a genius) You could also discover a dream you didn’t know you had, plan it, start to live it out, and achieve one of the biggest goals you’ve ever set for yourself.

I’ve only done the last one in the past 9 months, for the record.

The dream nine months ago? Go to SXSW. Make an impression. Go home with contacts that could be future employers. Check, check and check.

When I got to SXSW I was at peace, knowing that I had found my happy place. Not only is Austin is a great city, but during SXSW, it’s also chock-full of people who get giddy over iPhone apps and blogging and social media in general and karaoke and gadgets and beer and conversations and CONVERSATIONS OVER BEERS. Oh, and I had that overall sense of finding myself.

I also swore to myself that I would speak there someday.

Seriously, when I walked into the convention center in March and thought to myself, “I want to be a part of this”, the end of that sentence was “someday”. Someday I wanted to. When I walked into the convention center that day I had no idea what was in store for me. I was still in college, feeling out what my future would hold. How I pictured my future was this fuzzy image, where I knew there was something out there, my calling, what have you, but I just couldn’t see it yet. I didn’t even know what I wanted to do, really, I just knew I wanted it to be great.

Then the picture got a little clearer on Sunday when I went to Daniel’s panel about “Old Media, New Tricks”. What he was saying MADE SENSE. I could relate to it. I heard Robert (Rob? Robert? What do you prefer?) mention that Daniel was 24. HE WAS MY AGE FOR CRYING OUT LOUD. If he could make a difference, I could too, age wasn’t an issue. I just needed to find my footing. And then start sprinting.

After Daniel’s panel, the image that is my future became a little clearer yet again when I met Adam. Slowly but surely he started introducing me to everyone who was anyone at SXSW that I needed to know. I was absolutely blown away to have a perfect stranger taking such an interest in the crazy ideas that were floating around in my head. I’ve said it before, but it deserves repeating, that particular Sunday in Austin was a turning point in my life, professionally and personally.

So the story goes (which I’ve told a thousand times before), I go home, accept an internship, start planning my move to Chicago and nine months later, here I am. Happily employed at what is easily my dream job, working with people who are absolutely fantastic at what they do and have an interest in helping me grow as a professional and as a person. I’m living in a city that never ceases to amaze me, and has grown enough on me to call “home” without even realizing I’m doing it. I’m meeting people that take my breath away because they think the way that I do and enjoy life just as much, if not more so.

And that little part of my dream, that item on my list, that little professional gold star is HAPPENING. NEXT YEAR. OH EM GEE.

I’m super-pumped for the opportunity to speak at SXSW Interactive 2010 with Elysa Rice, Ben Smithee, Ryan Paugh and Nisha Chittal, all of whom I met in Austin last year. Our panel will be touching on Gen-Y in the workplace, the brilliance that is “with” vs. “for”, and how we’re diving in to social media, amongst other things. You can read more about it here.

Nine months. Can seem like an eternity – but sometimes it flies by.

In honor of a game that Mari likes to play when you don’t know somebody, (I’m putting a twist on it) – what have you accomplished in the last nine months?

You have this opportunity to brag about yourself – with no judgment. What is your greatest accomplishment in the past nine months and what do you hope to accomplish in the next nine months?

  • Chris Owen

    No, that took about 47 seconds as I recall

  • Sydney Owen

    I think for some of us, this is an exercise to find the silver lining. Which is great. For others, the list of accomplishments is VERY long, so they had to narrow it down. Regardless, thinking back and taking the time to pat yourself on the back isn't something that everyone does. So thanks for being here. :)

  • Sydney Owen

    Though I'm completely happy where I am and wouldn't do it any other way, I kind of wish I had taken the time to do the travel-around-the-country-until-I'm-totally-out-of-cash thing.

    We talked at great length about where you're headed and I'M SO FREAKING PUMPED FOR YOU. Wanna run a 5k with me? I'm getting a posse together to do it. A big social media/bloggers/awesomesauce 5k. :)

    And I CANT WAIT TO MEET YOU. We need to arrange that once you get all settled in San Fran.

  • Sydney Owen

    Chicago is awesome. End of story. I'm excited for you and for all of the great things you have planned coming up. Let me know how the REAL DATE thing goes. :)

  • Sydney Owen

    Big things for you this year! How exciting! I hope your panel gets on the agenda, because I think it would be extremely interesting. Regardless, we should definitely schedule a time to chat about it and grab beers when SXSW rolls around. Kapeesh?

  • Sydney Owen

    I. Love. You.

    I'd end it there but OMG this comment rocks my socks. Really. Since we can't hang out on the pool deck and discuss this over beers like we would if I were still home, this will have to suffice. AND OH MY GOD THIS COMMENT ROCKS – did I mention that?

    One, I am SO PROUD of you for keeping a roof over our heads all these years. When I was a kid, I didn't really understand what that meant. Now I do, as I work to build a life for myself, on my own.

    I think I get a lot of who I am from you. Is that genetic? Is it learned? I don't know. But I see a lot of you in a lot of the things that I do. Like the risk-taking. You could have stayed in Kansas with a job you didn't love or you could have pursued your dreams in Florida. I'm glad you pursued your dreams in Florida, and I'm glad I came along for the ride, because my dreams and my methods of pursuing them definitely molded as we all hopped on that journey together.

    While shutting down the site is kind of bittersweet – I can't wait to see how this new direction pans out. I know you're enjoying it a lot more, which makes me happy to see you happy. I wish Chicago was closer to Florida so we could talk about your new direction more, but I'm not THAT tight with Mother Nature, or whoever would be in charge of relocating states to be closer to each other.

    Funny, I never thought rearranging my room when I was grounded would translate to how I handle myself as an adult, but somehow, it does. I can't really put my finger on an exact translation, but it just makes sense. That's how I am. Hopefully that won't put me under out here in the business world. Hopefully that's a skill set that will allow me to excel and succeed and climb the ladder and make a life for myself, and all that stuff that I'm supposed to do now that I'm a grown up.

    I love you. End of story. Thanks for being here, and thanks for the warm and fuzzy start to my day. WHAT A WEEK!!!

    Is it January yet?

  • OrlandoChris

    No, that took about 47 seconds as I recall

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