CenterTable @ SXSW 2017: Sunday Sessions

We’re just wrapping up our third day of sessions at SXSWi and with the time change and cold weather it wasn’t easy to hop out of bed this morning. But – nothing gets you going like a strong, inspirational session and hearing from Dean Baquet, executive editor of The New York Times, fit the bill perfectly. He reinforced two themes we’ve heard throughout the conference: live your truth and do your best. With that – here’s our best at a recap on today’s sessions!

Jim’s Take:

  • Given our work with the City of Denver’s Denveright and Stay Legit Denver
    Smart Cities: defined

    Smart Cities: defined

    campaigns, I opted to check out a Smart Cities session to start the day. As Google’s second Fiber City, you’d think it would all be rainbows and roses in Austin. But when only 15% of residents who live in affordable housing have in-home internet, the challenges of truly becoming a Smart City – with a plethora of transportation and mobility options, well-connected to the internet and related devices, abundant affordable housing options, etc. – are multi-layered, and ever-changing.

  • In a panel that consisted of representatives from Vox Media, VICE, and The New York Times titled “Social Video and the Future of Consumption,” the focus (even for traditional media outlets) is swiftly turning to live video experiences. The challenge with live video, of course, is taking the live element and ensuring it’s adding value or more context to the story in some way – underscoring the extreme importance of being as creative as possible with videos, rather than just producing videos for video’s sake.
  • Summing a panel titled “Shopping and the Sacred Social Space” up in one line (with panelists from Facebook, Imagur, eBay and Flipboard), and one that’s been a common theme at SXSW 2017: Everything you do content-wise or digital-wise needs to have some kind of value for the end user – emphasize experience, and give more than you take.
  • At the end of the day I attended a session titled “Where we’re going, we don’t need cars” which featured the CEO of Car2Go, among others. Three important statistics for Denver as it grows:
    • By 2050, 70% of the world’s population will have moved back to urban centers
    • Personal vehicles sit idle 96 percent of the time, causing a huge issue with parking/space in already space-constrained urban centers
    • Every 1 Car2Go car (or other, related car sharing service) on the road removes 11 vehicles from our roads and parking structures

Ultimately, the vision for a company like Car2Go is to provide automated vehicles as chauffeurs, where individuals can request them (like Uber or Lyft), ride in a driverless car, be dropped off and then the car goes to its next ride or a holding lot. Saving space, saving time, and when you think about it, saving us a ton of money on purchasing, parking and maintaining a vehicle.

Carissa’s Take:

  • For a conference focused on social media, we’ve been hearing quite a bit about the value of connecting offline, too. Such was the case at “Building Healthy Habits: More Social, Less Media” where Adidas brought together a panel including one to the founders of Wanderlust, the CEO of Luvo and New York Times best-selling author and athlete Robin Arzon. Interestingly, while all touted the value of the real-world, offline experience that can be the initial connection for people, the group agreed that creating purposeful online communities can develop true, deep, meaningful connections between people. The trick is that is has to be purposeful, accessible and authentic. I loved essentially everything that Robin Arzon had to say, but especially, “We have a responsibility, as thought leaders, to create a culture of courage. When you see someone you can identify with doing something that you find inspiring, it makes all the difference.”
  • Have you ever thought about your brand’s “sonic identity?” Wondering what the heck sonic identity even is? Think Tom Bodett from Motel 6 – his voice and tone are synonymous with the brand and evoke a certain feeling. What are the songs, sound-effects and words you want to associate with your brand? The truth is, I hadn’t given it much thought until today’s Pandora-hosted panel titled “The Power of Audio: Why The Hardest Working Media is Between Your Ears” where I learned that 80% of the US population has a mobile phone and the No. 1 use of those mobile devices is listening to music. We’ve basically become human antennae, and with the popularity of streaming music services, podcasts and apps, audio is a great way to reach consumers. Wondering who’s doing it well? Check out how Motel 6 won the Super Bowl in short form, and how GE’s “The Message” made long form audio work in its favor.
  • We’ve all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but the panel “17 Ways Breakfast is Transforming America” provided a little food for thought beyond just the items on the table. Panel host Jenna Bush Hager kicked off the panel by revealing the results of a just-released TODAY Show viewer survey about what breakfast means to Americans. To draw a parallel to work, I loved listening to Jessica Koslow from Squirl talk about how she finds inspiration in one ingredient or flavor, and starts brainstorming and building around that until she reaches just the right recipe – so much like some of our brainstorming work. One “aha moment” I had during the panel was the reminder that everyone is fresh in the morning, making breakfast the perfect time to catch up with your family or an excellent time to have a business meeting. Breakfast happens before the day gets busy, and it doesn’t take too long, plus the food is delicious – so book your next “business lunch” over breakfast and make some deals happen.
  • My final panel of the day, “Strengthening Organizations Through Coaching”, provided a great reminder that no matter the project, sometimes it’s okay to take a step back from being the expert counselor and instead play the role of coach. It’s a lot easier to get buy-in for and commitment to an ultimate goal when the goals are mutually agreed upon, and when you’re working as a coach with a team there’s an opportunity to learn from – maybe even celebrate – failure and identify where to go next. Through teaching, training and empowerment, everyone can win. Thanks to the team at Beyond Emancipation for sharing inspiration – and particularly for all they’re doing to help youth succeed.

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