I just got back from SXSW 2012. Before going, I tried to come up with every excuse to skip it:
- I had a lot of friends who werenât going
- I didnât want to spend the money
- I wanted to stay home and get work done
- The weather was supposed to be shitty
- I didnât have a place to stay
- blah blah blah
To be honest, I was being a little bitch about it. I was looking for excuses, but the real reason was that I was just lazy.
In the end, I decided to go. And after getting back, I thought Iâd write a note to my 2013 self whoâs thinking about whether or not to go.
Brenden, you are a moron if you donât go. Seriously, if you want to skip it, get the hell out of my house. Now. Take your shit. Youâre not welcome here anymore. Because youâre an idiot.
Now that thatâs out of the way, hereâs some useful advice for making the best out of 2013 while itâs fresh in my head from 2012:
- Book a hotel room right now. RIGHT NOW. DO IT.
Donât wait on this. Rooms wont magically appear like you thought they would in 2012.
- Stay up twice as late, drink half as much.
This was one of the best things I did in 2012. In 2011 I overindulged several nights and because of that felt like crap the next day and didnât remember 100% of certain conversations I had the night before. This year, I made a concerted effort not drink very much but stay out as late as possible (didnât go to bed before 4 any night). This led to a ton of serendipitous moments, conversations, and experiences that I have full recollection and appreciation of. Thatâs what SXSW is all about, and drowning those memories in too much booze kinda defeats the whole point for me.
- Donât schedule anything before 2 PM.
I held to this policy 2 out of the 3 days I was there. Because I was up late, I slept in late. And woke up feeling refreshed. I would meet up with people for lunch, but I didnât have any specific obligations, which led to some nice lunches full of good conversation.
- Schedule as little as possible.
A lot of people wanted to schedule time to meet and chat, and I just kept giving them my cell number and saying to text me when they were out. Although there were some people who I missed, it made seeing people feel like random fun, instead of a scheduled obligation.
- Break the schedule rule by setting up a small dinner each night
This year I didnât do this, and it was a shame. The best part of SXSW is the random conversations you find yourself in, and although these sometimes happen at the big parties, I feel the best ones happen in smaller groups. Next year I want to skip the early parties and get together with small groups for dinner.
- Go for 3 nights.
Iâve always gone to Austin for 4-5 nights. But I get drained from staying up late and stressed Iâm not getting enough done. This year I went for 3 nights and it was perfect. Friday to Monday would be ideal, but Saturday to Tuesday is also solid.
Iâm sure there will be more, so maybe Iâll keep this updated over time on my blog. But thatâs what stands out as the best of 2012.