A week ago today, I was on my way to the Austin Convention Center to do some final rounds of networking and maybe catch a panel or two before hitting the road back to Illinois. I had my car mostly packed, and the plan was to go to the convention center, grab breakfast, hang out in the blogger lounge, and stick around for Gary Vaynerchuk’s presentation about his new book, “The Thank You Economy.”
I am SO GLAD I stuck around for his presentation.
For now, I’ll leave it at the fact that Gary’s talk was amazing and by far the best speaker presentation I attended. And in case you missed it or weren’t able to be there, the audio for his session is here. I have a signed copy of “The Thank You Economy” that I will be giving away when I post my review of the book, so stay tuned for more info on that.
So, starting at the beginning:
A big part of SXSW for me was this whole coming full circle thing. I took two groups of virgin skydivers out to Skydive Temple on Thursday and Friday before the conference really kicked off. This was a great moment for me because I was able to reflect on how far I’d come since last year, as well as introduce a handful of people to the sport I love so much. Big thanks and congratulations to Chris Hoyt, Jenny DeVaughn, Wesley Faulkner, David Spinks and Andy Kaufman for coming out and making their first (Wesley’s second) skydives. I also had the chance to meet Josephine Dorado, who is also a licensed skydiver, and was reminded of just how small our skydiving community is, as she knew several people from my dropzone.
Chris and David, in particular, were extra pumped about the experience. When Chris landed he said “okay…. that’s my new hobby” and he proceeded to bring five more people out during the conference. David was inquiring about what happens after your first skydive. Hopefully both of them get licensed and I’ll have two more friends in the sky!
I made it back to the convention center on Friday, just in time to snag my badge and venture upstairs for “The Steroid Culture of Social Media: You Use?” starring my buddy Kyle Flaherty, Tim Walker, Troy Nalls and Laura Beck. And what a kickass way to start SXSW.
The panel was all about people taking shortcuts in social media, and each speaker had a different view about what is okay and what’s not when it comes to said shortcuts. The audio for the panel is here. I encourage you to listen, because the speakers were ROCKIN. My favorite part of attending this panel, beyond the heckling, was the chance to talk with Troy Nalls. Everything he was saying about his approach to life and business was really resonating with me. He’s one of those people that fall into the camp of completely and totally awesome and one of those people you just want to be around for all of eternity because their energy is ridonkulous.
I also have a mindcrush on Laura Beck. She’s fucking brilliant and when she was talking about why she left agency life to start her own thing I was like that one guy in the back of the church service yelling “YES YES YES” to everything the preacher is saying. She has a theory about finding 100 true fans for your brand versus a cajillion, which she outlines in the panel (SERIOUSLY LISTEN TO THIS SHIT, Y’ALL), and I think she could flip the world upside down with the words that are coming out of her mouth.
One of the highlights of my trip was snagging some much-needed face time with Jenny Blake. We have been chatting back and forth for almost three years now, had finally met in person at SXSW last year, and were able to enjoy an entire brunch together this year at Moonshine. We talked about life, love, work, fun, boys, our friends in the blogosphere (Hi Jamie!) and enjoyed a delicious breakfast. Like, wicked delicious. As in, if you’re ever in Austin on a Sunday and you’re hungry – go to Moonshine and rock their brunch scene. Amazing.
In case you are living under a rock, Jenny is the author of LifeAfterCollege.org, which is now, (YAY!) a book, also called “Life After College,” that you can hold in your hands, doodle all over, and call on when you need some of her incredible wisdom. Jenny was kind enough to send me a copy of the book before it goes on sale, so I’ll be posting a review of it here in the next few weeks.
My panel with Aaron went well, I think. We had a bunch of super smart people in the audience and there were some amazing questions about all things mentoring. Doesn’t hurt that we started our morning at the AllHat3 party, hosted by David Armano and Richard Binhammer. A couple margaritas will make any conversation flow a bit better.
The rest of SXSW was a blur of hanging out in the hallways, eating awesome BBQ and networking my face off. I created new relationships, caught up with some people I hadn’t seen since last year (if not longer), and did some business.
So, some of my favorite people I was able to have an actual conversation with, catch up with, or who I met for the first time this year, in no particular order: Lisa Grimm, Erika Napoletano, Gary Vaynerchuk, Jenny Blake, Andrew Norcross, J. Money, Amber Naslund, Craig Comeau, Jason Falls, Sara Davidson, Colby Gergen, Teresa Cantwell, Becky Johns, Andy Drish, Elysa Rice, Tiffany Monhollon, and a bajillion other people that I forgot to list here.
If you went to SXSW, what was your favorite part? If you weren’t able to make it, I recommend checking out the audio from the panels I listed above as well as SAVING MONEY NOW so you can go next year!
So, like a year (give or take a couple days) ago, I had my alarm set for 8:05 to meet the likes of Ben Smithee and his Spych crew in the lobby at the Hilton in Austin. I woke up, having been innocently overserved at the Brazen Careerist meetup, at Jason Falls’ party, and an unneccesary nightcap at the Hilton lobby bar before bed. Needless to say, I was not looking forward to jumping out of a plane.
I mean, I was, but I wasn’t. I was feeling like roadkill, looking almost as bad, and in desperate need of a McMuffin and a Gatorade.
Some three hours later, I had no idea how much my life would change. No. Earthly. Idea.
That day, I boarded a SkyTeam Aviation aircraft, a PAC 750XL, built for skydiving, which was chasing the sunshine in Texas while its home dropzone, Chicagoland Skydiving Center, was closed up for the winter season. That day, I got back from the jump and got on Facebook and all of my fellow jumpers had “liked” PROskydiving on Facebook. I remember seeing that logo somewhere, but couldn’t put my finger on it.
We all know that jump changed my life.
Fast forward two months to Memorial Day weekend. I had selected CSC to do another tandem before starting the AFF (accelerated freefall) program to get my A-License. I met Doug, the owner of CSC, and when I had mentioned that I did my tandem at Skydive Temple, he said “oh, then you jumped out of my other plane.”
So let me recap: I went to Austin for SXSW, jumped out of a CSC plane, and then proceeded to get my A-License at CSC, doing several of my jumps out of that same aircraft that I jumped out of at Skydive Temple. Now, CSC is my first client, with which I’ll be working full-time this season, as I start to explore the world outside of Corporate America and start consulting on my own.
Today and tomorrow, I’m taking a handful of fellow SXSW attendees to Skydive Temple to make their first skydive. I’m beyond excited to introduce some new friends to the sport and, hopefully, keep a few more people jumping and have more friends to jump with in the future.
I’m feeling REALLY good about where I’m at in this journey so far.
If you’re in town for SXSW, I’d love to see you. If you’re in town and want to jump out of a plane – we have another group going tomorrow. Let me know.
If you’re in Austin and you’re attending SXSW Interactive, this one is for you. Well, mostly for me and Aaron, but for you as well.
Obviously mentoring is a big deal to me. Obviously I talk about it a lot. And I have a fantastic set of mentors that I can call on for various things and a handful of people I’m mentoring as well. Fact of the matter is, if you want to get shit done and get it done right with the best people possible, a mentor isn’t a bad thing to have.
Let me set the stage for our presentation on Sunday. We’re not sitting in front of the room up on an elevated platform, armed with Powerpoint slides. In fact, at 3:30, we’ll be in room 5ABC at the Austin Convention Center, with a bunch of chairs, ready for a killer discussion on all things mentoring.
Our presentation (conversation, really) is called “Road Rules for Mentorship: What’s Appropriate (and What’s Not).” We hope to answer a variety of questions, mostly about what are some ways you can find a mentor, keep one around after you’ve snuggled up under their wing, and what’s appropriate for mentorly fodder (and what’s not).
What this isn’t about: two people talking AT you. We want to talk WITH you. We have some stuff to chat about, mostly articles about generational differences that have been popping up here and there, as I think that plays a lot into the importance of mentoring, but we really just want it to be a rolling conversation. No frills, no fuss.
Some things I’m interested in learning about from all of you:
- There is a fine line between mentoring and giving away the goods for free – ie life coaching, consulting, etc. What is that line and how do you walk it?
- Do you have mentors? How did they come to be in that position in your life? Did you march right up to them and ask them to play this role for you or did it evolve naturally?
- Do you think mentoring sounds too formal? What’s your interpretation and reaction to this whole mentoring shenanigans?
So if you’re available at 3:30 on Sunday, we’d love to see you in our little corner of the convention center. We’ll be coming from AllHat, so I’m sure the conversation will be lively.
What panels are you going to? What content are you super pumped to consume this year?
So, as it turns out, I kinda suck at the whole actually-executing-all-25-things-on-my-list-of-things-I’m-going-to-do-while-I’m-25-thing. I’ve crossed five off the list in the first six months. Mind you, the five that I’ve plowed through are all pretty awesome, and I’m not by any means upset about this, but I think it’s high time I revamp my list.
So, below, please find 20 new items that I will complete before I turn 26 in 6 months (minus a day, since my birthday is on the 3rd).
- Continue to be true to myself, my career goals, and my goals as they pertain to skydiving.
- Live in a simple fashion – eliminate the clutter.
- Be a good mentor to someone (I’ve heard I can cross this one off from multiple people but this is one of those things that is on-going).
- Facilitate an engaging discussion at SXSW 2011 about mentoring.
- Get to 100 jumps, and if time allows, my coach rating. The coach rating thing is a 2011 goal, but I don’t see why that can’t happen before June.
- Visit my family at least once between now and June.
- Stay in touch with my friends and former colleagues in Chicago. (Hi everyone!)
- Save enough money for a skydiving trip to somewhere cooler, climate-wise, when it’s blazing hot in Austin.
- Get new contacts.
- Go to the doctor.
- Blog more. Explore other areas of PR/Marketing and all things social.
- Help a student in their job search.
- Bring great people to WCG.
- Make time for myself so I can recharge and keep the creative energy at the highest level possible.
- Stay sane while the boy is on his adventure on the east coast. Set dates to see him while he’s in Chicago next season. Continue to be awesome to and with him and grow as a person. This one should count for 5 points.
- Keep my car maintained. AKA, get my car in for maintenance.
- Spend less money on stupid stuff. (See saving money on #8)
- Commit to a fitness plan that is sustainable. (See also #14)
- Eat clean. Go big or go home. Stop eating garbage and get back on track. Holidays are over, tubby.
- Do the right thing. Every time. It might not always make sense, but follow my gut. It’s served me well so far.
What are some things you hope to accomplish in 2011? If you’re working on a similar list of things you want to do during XX year, how is it coming? Are you keeping yourself in check and holding yourself accountable?
I still want to meet Oprah, for the record. So if you can work on that for me, that’d be great.
And I’m keeping the old list up, under the new list. You can see it here.
So, I thought I’d group the prompts from Saturday, Sunday and today into one lovely post.
December 11 – 11 Things. What are 11 things your life doesn’t need in 2011? How will you go about eliminating them? How will getting rid of these 11 things change your life? (Author: Sam Davidson)
I don’t really like listing out things I don’t need. For two reasons, one, because NEED is a strong statement. I want a lot of things. I need very few. If we wanted to take this prompt quite literally my list would be simple: I can eliminate everything except a roof over my head, enough nutrition to survive, and water. We don’t really NEED anything else. To think about it as “eliminating bad things from my life,” as I figure out that things are bad, I eliminate them as they come.
December 12 – Body Integration. This year, when did you feel the most integrated with your body? Did you have a moment where there wasn’t mind and body, but simply a cohesive YOU, alive and present? (Author: Patrick Reynolds)
Every skydive. Shocking, I know.
December 13 – Action When it comes to aspirations, it’s not about ideas. It’s about making ideas happen. What’s your next step? (Author: Scott Belsky)
Career-wise – I just took a big step. So, next steps on that are to continue rocking every day and learning as much as possible. Skydiving-wise – next steps are to find a dropzone where I can jump frequently so I can get my 100 jumps so I can start to think about becoming a coach. Not to say that once I hit 100 jumps I’ll be ready, but that’s how many I need to get my coach rating. We’ll see how it works out.
December 14 – Appreciate. What’s the one thing you have come to appreciate most in the past year? How do you express gratitude for it? (Author: Victoria Klein)
I’m most appreciative of the people in my life who help guide me in new and exciting directions. This year, I’m giving big hugs and high fives to my mentors in my career as well as my new skydiving buddies. I’ve talked about this quite frequently this year so I’ll spare you the long gushy list of thank yous.
With regards to mentoring, however, I’m pleased to announce that my submission for SXSW was accepted this year. It’s all about mentoring and how and why it’s immensely important.
If you were at the panel I spoke at last year, you’ll remember that it was kinda (really) formal at the beginning then we finally got the crowd riled up enough to ask questions. This year, I submitted my idea as a dual presentation, or a core conversation. Me and one other presenter (SXSW said not to identify them yet so we can have diversity but I already have my co-speaker in mind and a backup, too) in a discussion with the room. If you were at Aaron, Kyle and Tim’s “Hitting Bombs” session last year, it’s going to be VERY similar to that. Less lecturing, less pimping out who we are and where we work and what we do, and a lot more awesomesauce.
The skinny: In a world where the saying “it’s all about who you know” is more and more relevant across multiple platforms, mentoring is more important than ever. But once you’ve managed to find someone who is willing to take you under their wing, how do you keep that relationship alive? What subjects are appropriate fodder for you and your newly-found mentor to discuss? During this session, you’ll have the opportunity to see just how mentoring can benefit you not only personally, but also professionally. The panelists will share industry research and unique insights on what is appropriate in a mentoring relationship (and what isn’t), how to keep the relationship alive after it has been established, as well as how to reap the most benefits from the relationship
Very excited to be speaking again at SXSW – and this time, I live here! Totally awesome!
So, that being said, SXSkydiving Part 2 is totally happening. Not that it wouldn’t but it definitely is now. And, for all of my out-of-town friends that will be attending, I know all the cool places that aren’t ridiculously crowded. And there is still room available* on my floor (with air mattresses) if you’re looking to save a bundle on hotels.
So that being said, what are you looking forward to in 2011? What are your responses to the prompts above?