As I head out to Austin for the interactive part of the Conference That Shall Not Be NamedTM for the third time, I’ve been reflecting on my past two experiences there, which felt a little Goldilocks: first too cold, then too hot. I’m hoping this year, I get it just right.
It’s always a fine balance to strike between doing the smart, interesting, inspirational stuff that you’re getting paid to go soak up and (let’s be honest) hitting the parties. In 2011, I think I spent my entire visit inside the Austin Convention Center trying to find a seat for packed panels on social media and AI. Last year, I didn’t make it to even one sesh, but managed to rack up a bottle service tab in the VIP section of a club where Lil Wayne was rumored to show up any minute (he never did).
As a creative, I believe both ends of the spectrum are valuable and truly work hand-in-hand. Knowing the technology/marketing trends means nothing if you don’t know the cultural trends that drive how they can be used well for your clients. The social aspects of the conference give insight into what people are thinking about, doing and digging in the real world. And it’s those insights that allow you to take that crazy new technology or marketing concept you just learned about and apply it in ways that are actually relevant and meaningful to people like your husband, who doesn’t even understand Instagram.
So of course, Yalo’s party is high on my list of moments I’m looking forward to over the next few days. But what’s the rest of my plan for striking that perfect balance this year and making the magic happen? Well . . .
Okay. There are like hundreds of official sessions and panels. Literally. Not to mention various meet-ups and the meditation and yoga group Zen-outs (obvs not my thing). Maybe because my sensitivity to the current political climate is super fine-tuned, it also seems like there are a lot more sessions about race, gender, activism, and journalism than I have ever seen. I’m all in. Additionally, ChooseATL, an Atlanta economic development org, has some excellent programming promoting our city that I plan on checking out (hello, brunch with Luda?!). I’ve also got a few beauty/fashion/retail sessions on my radar because those industries are always doing some amazing and beautiful stuff with digital.
Speaking of beauty/fashion/retail, one of my favorite moments last year was winning a pair of Kendra Scott earrings at their Soirée on Rainey Street. I definitely plan on hitting those kinds of events/booths inside the convention center and out because, while there will be a lot of logo-laden tote bags, USB drives and tchotchkes nobody needs one more of, there will also be some straight-up gems.
Rachel, Anne, and I are the trifecta of fun holding down the Yalo fort for the first couple of days before the rest of the crew rolls into town. I’m definitely looking forward to all the team bonding that will surely ensue. While hangin’ with my new friends is good, one of the cool things about this conference is that you always run into friends from your past lives, too. I’ve already got a few plans to connect with folks from past jobs and even grad school, and I’m sure some unplanned meet-ups will happen, too. In between, you can find me in the VIP section with a bottle of Ketel One, waiting for Lil Wayne.
I mean, you can’t go to Austin and not totally freak out about the food. Some people are all about the BBQ. I can get great BBQ in the ATL. What I love is the street food. From Creole to Kabobs to Lobster, there is a food truck for pretty much everything in Austin. SouthBites® is a great place to start, but there is a ton more out there that I fully intend to explore. It’s a good thing that eating my way through the city will require walking in between bites.
Third time’s the charm, right? Let’s do this, Austin!
Interested in learning more about what we brought back from the Conference That Shall Not Be Named™? Yalo is a creative agency in Atlanta & Cleveland, and we’d love to share our experiences-turned-to-expertise for the benefit of your business. Reach out to us and let’s chat!