Robin’s Ultimate SXSW Survival Guide

South By South West Interactive was, in a word, epic, especially as a n00b and a non-road warrior. This is what I learned in (almost) chronological order:

  • Choose your seatmate well for the flight into Austin – This way, you’re at SXSW even before you land. Mine was Scott Heiferman, CEO of Meetup.com who is an all-round nice guy. Bonus: see if you can get your plane turned around 30 minutes into the flight due to cabin pressure issues to ensure maximum face time and fear of dying.
  • Get some rest – have the airline lose your luggage. You can fritter away your first day pottering around your hotel room in your travel clothes and not unpack your things.
  • Party “plans” – treat them with the same disrespect as you do your business plans. Roll with the posse you find.
  • Shatter your iphone – it makes for a great icebreaker, pun intended (“what the hell happened?”, “how does that thing still work?”, “HOLY CRAP! I HEARD ABOUT THAT PHONE”) Photo credit: Evan Blaustein
  • Run into Sean Power randomly and frequently – highly recommended.
  • Use a car service – Just because you call a cab doesn’t mean it has neccessarily been dispatched (512-573-2486)
  • Have DJs rock your world – namely Flosstradamus (Chicago), Wants Versus Needs (Minneapolis) and Table Manners Crew (Austin represent!)
  • Drink early, Drink often It takes effort to avoid drinking at SXSW so why fight it? Stumbleupon party and Cheezburger party were both excellent. Driskill has great beef jerky (thanks Aidan!) and lots of legit people to meet – just follow the smell of riff raff.
  • Gatorade – the true breakfast of champions
  • Talk about something other than tech – entertain people with videos of your dog Boomer! (thanks John!)
  • Panels – ignore the title, research the speakers (thanks Stevey!) and/or go to things you know NOTHING about and expand your mind (thanks David!). If you’re on a panel, encourage people to participate by offering them free beer (thanks Grace!)
  • Warm up your vocal chords if you’re going to a panel with Tara Hunt. She will probably make you sing and dance. You’ll appreciate the energy boost it gives you.
  • Bring a Sharpie – you never know when you might need one.
  • Extend your stay – have your homeward bound flight canceled due to technical issues and stay in Austin an extra day. Don’t forget to cancel your next day’s meetings! Bonus: try to be stranded with David Dufresne (what a mensch!) and hit the music festival. Super Bonus: make sure it coincides with St. Patrick’s Day and watch the chaos reign!
  • Duct tape – bring it or buy it at 7/11. Your choice.

But enough about me though. How was your week?

Comments ( 4 )
  • chris mccann says:

    haha this is awesome! I was in Austin for 7 days straight (SXSWi and SXSWm) and I can say that it was one big epic disaster 🙂

    Love your rules:
    Have DJs rock your world – Check out DJ Aoki he was my favorite DJ by far
    Panels – I didn’t (and know a lot of others who didn’t) even bother to get conferences passes. It’s all about the parties at SXSW.
    Gatorade – Definitely
    Drink early, Drink often – The music portion killed me, 7 straight days of drinking was really hard work

    Come say hi if you are every in Silicon Valley!

  • Robin says:

    Hey Chris, I’m glad it was just as insane for you too, I think it was for everybody. 😀

    I will check out Aoki. (Until now, I thought he was just a figment of Gawker Media’s imagination.)

    You’re not the only person I know who went without the badge and didn’t suffer for it. I’ll definitely look you up if I’m ever in the valley but I need a reason to go! Why don’t you make good on some of those fun events you keep blogging about? 😛

  • Kelly Rusk says:

    Hahahah Robin you poor thing! I guess there’s always got to be the “if anything can wrong, it will” person, sadly this time it was you!

    Fun times though right?! Great to hang out with you, sorry about your phone… and luggage.. and cancelled flight… and everything else! Fortunately you were clearly able to make the best of it!

    See ya next year? ; )

  • Robin Ahn says:

    Kelly! Thanks for the commiserations; it was all a lot of highs and lows. 🙂 It was great to finally get to meet you and yes, let’s do it again next year.

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