The Gist

  • Get over to Austin. The South by Southwest (SXSW) event in Austin, Texas, brings together creative people from various industries and can inspire curiosity, collaboration and culture.
  • Networking with creatives. Attending SXSW can help individuals step outside of their comfort zones and explore areas they may not have considered before. Networking with fellow creatives at SXSW can provide valuable inspiration and insight.
  • CMSWire Connect: More Austin love. Attending CMSWire Connect in Austin in May can also provide inspiration for customer experience and marketing leaders. To truly leave with newly found customer experience inspiration, individuals need to move past their fears of being vulnerable and different and be open to new ideas and perspectives.

My first ever public speaking engagement went exactly how you think it would go, not well. Back in 2008, I was a junior in college and finally getting into the core meat of my major, which was marketing communications. As part of this major, we were required to take various public speaking classes, which at the time, seemed like the most terrifying thing in the world to me. 

The first assignment we had was to give an elevator pitch of ourselves in front of the class. Talk about personal things in front of a group of students and be vulnerable? No thank you! As fate would have it, I went up, fumbled through my speech, sweat completely through my shirt — and left the class thinking “It’s time to change majors.” But before walking the plank — I took some advice from a professor who taught the class. She helped alleviate my fears and elevate my speaking ability throughout the remainder of the semester, and though I wasn’t perfect — I started to enjoy the process. 

After I graduated and time moved on, I found myself with various speaking opportunities early in my career. I started to relish these 30-to-60 minutes of vulnerability — using my own personal life for inspiration to compare customer experience excellence. Year after year, I was given additional opportunities to speak at various industry events — even a conference in Barcelona, Spain. (Could it be? Have I finally moved past my fear of public speaking?) It would appear so.

Many others will experience the same set of emotions this week and next week as the world convenes in my home city Austin, Texas — as the 2023 South by Southwest kicks off March 10. From startups to established brands, from aspiring musicians to filmmakers — folks will take center stage to put their work, their passion and their inspirations on display for the world to see and critique. As I’m reminded often by someone close to me, though scary — being vulnerable is a essential part of growth and inspiration.

For those who are attending — and others who are just genuinely interested in what the event has to offer — here are three ways SXSW will help elevate your customer-centric inspiration for your brand and your customers

The Super Bowl of the World’s Most Creative People

South by Southwest’s mission is to "help creative people achieve their goals, and we believe people have the power to change the world for the better." This event brings in the world's most creative, experienced and passionate people from cross industries together, which inspires curiosity, collaboration and culture. If you’re looking to be more creative, and you’re attending the event, you’re in the right place. 

Related Article: The Best Customer Experience Conferences of 2023 - FOMO Alert

Leave That Comfort Zone Bubble

As my lead in states, it’s hard to step outside of our comfort zones. But this event requires you to see the full picture of what’s possible within the creative inspiration we all desire. The city of Austin has become infamous for the saying “Keep Austin Weird” — my advice to you is when you’re in town for SXSW, explore the weirdness of the city, but moreover — let SXSW pull the weirdness out of you. Some of the best creative ideas have come from stepping out of your comfort zone and delving into areas that may be considered taboo.

Learning Opportunities

Leave Austin Inspired

One of the best things about attending the event, and even just walking around the city is who and what you may run into. From new tech startup founders to Grammy Award winning artists to a brand manager looking for inspiration — you never know who you may rub shoulders with. But more so, it’s the conversations you’ll have with these fellow creatives that will really stick with you once you leave the show. Don’t get me wrong — all the speaking sessions are worth attending, but it’s the networking these speaking events provide that hold true intrinsic value. Everyone who is sitting in the same sessions you are is looking for the same truth of inspiration. Introduce yourself, grab a drink, go see a brand's engagement around this city — I promise, you’ll leave inspired.

Related Article: What Does a 'Good' Customer Experience Really Involve?

Austin Is Your CX Conference Home Away from Home

And, by the way, we’d be totally remiss to leave out another way to get inspired if you’re a customer experience or marketing leader — CMSWire’s very own CMSWire Connect conference May 10-12 right here back in the city that keeps everything weird. The Austin-based event is CMSWire’s first since November 2019, when it was held under different branding, DX Summit.

So, as you embark on your journey to Austin this week, let me leave you with this. This city, this community, this event is something truly unique and inspiring. But in order to truly leave with newly found customer experience inspiration for you and your brand, you’ll need to step out of your comfort zone and move past your fears of being vulnerable and different.

If you’re lucky, by the time the show has ended and you’re making your voyage back home, you’ll leave with freshly cooked up ideas, inspiration and perspective — channeling your inner Paul Rudd saying “Hey, look at us — who would have thought? Not me.”

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