Things We Learned about Life and Work at South by Southwest (SXSW)

By Posted in - Blog on May 28th, 2013 0 Comments mike-edgell-SXSW

This shoe was the first thing I found at SXSW.  Foreshadowing is important.
Mike-Edgell-SXSW-2-170x300This was the second.  Always be ready to abandon normality. Mike-Edgell-SXSW-3-167x300Ask the right question.


At the Q&A for a new film by Steve Carell, Olivia Wilde and Jim Carrey, someone stood up and asked Wilde about her work on a show she was never on.  Oops.  Jim Carrey went to town on the question asker.  It became a running joke.  Don’t be the joke. mike-edgell-SXSW-5-171x300

Be aware of what you communicate to your audience. Mike-Edgell-SXSW-6-300x166

Don’t do something you could do tomorrow.

That’s what Matthew McConaughey told us.  One day he got tired of accepting the same old roles.  His agent was sending along scripts he could nail with his eyes closed.  He could manifest that character “tomorrow.”  He could channel the character without thinking.  That’s when he took his latest role in the film Mud, which pushed him out of his zone, and made him better at what he does.

Mike-Edgell-SXSW-7-300x167You too can scare Google.  By focusing on simple ideas and what matters to the end user. Mike-Edgell-SXSW-8-300x167

This is Kevin Rose interviewing YouTube Co-Founder Chad Hurley.  Chad changed the way the World communicates by creating YouTube based on a simple idea.  People needed an easy way to share video.

Before Google bought YouTube, the search giant was keen to capitalize on video.  But according to Chad, Google Video was too focused on eating the whole enchilada.  He says Google was trying to sign deals with the NBA, for example, to stream live games.  But broadband wasn’t up to speed. Chad and his small team were focused on compressing the heck out of videos and delivering that content quickly through Flash. Chad told the crowd that one of the most important negotiations (which we now know as a milestone in tech history) happened in a Denny’s diner.  Soon after, Google bought YouTube for $1.65 Billion, which at the time was made up of Chad and just 66 fellow employees.  I chatted with Chad before the session and thanked him for creating YouTube.  In 2009, I left television to make online videos for brands.  Some people thought I was crazy, but today, that platform is quickly evolving into a mega-beast hybrid of Hollywood, Madison Avenue and the girl next door.


Find something big.  I call this ‘Crouching Shaq, Hidden Mikey.’  Shaquille O’Neal found a new life in social media and he’s dunking on it daily. Mike-Edgell-SXSW-11-300x240

Visual opportunities rule.  They draw the most attention.  They motivate people to participate and share.  In the video content space in which I live, there’s evidence going back decades on the power of the visual.  Which is why so many brands are trying to capitalize on it. Mike-Edgell-SXSW-12-300x167

Party like it’s SXSW.

People are interesting and make you better.

This was taken at the Mashable party on the rooftop of Speakeasy in Austin.

Under the loud music, there were ideas flowing along with the vodka and Red Bull.   Many of the people attending or presenting at SXSW work on the biggest gamechangers of our time, such as Google, Facebook, YouTube.  Others work for companies that will put the average citizen in space, or re-invent healthcare.

Being around people and ideas at this intensity changes the way you think about everything around you.  It’s like a “blue sky” brainstorm but with the addition of possibility.

It makes me want to do more things I care about.  To invent and fail and build something.


Finally, I just want to thank the people of Austin, Texas, and the volunteers, presenters, and incredible minds that gather at SXSW.  You have challenged, inspired, impressed and engaged me on so many levels.  And for that I hug you. Mike-Edgell-SXSW-15-167x300

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