Monday, 26 May 2014


If you haven't ever watched Gary speak then you should definitely watch this (apologies for the F-bombs, that's just how he rolls).
The Thank You Economy 

Originally, Gary Vaynerchuk wasn't on the schedule for SXSW 2014, so when I saw that he was the keynote speaker on the first day, I made sure that this was one talk I didn't miss. I have quoted Gary so many times over the years in so many social media strategies, he is all about "out-caring" one's competitors and truly listening to your audience and giving a damn.

His keynote was all about "How to rock SXSW", who better to give this advice than him, he is a big believer in start-ups and this was his 7th SXSW. Here are his top tips to make the most of SXSW

It was such an amazing experience being able to ask Gary a question and get an immediate response. I asked him: "@Garyvee #AskGaryVee very interesting to see you are wearing an #AirBnB top. They are going to revolutionise the hotel industry! Your thoughts?" and this was his response

He also spoke briefly about his new book "Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook - How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World", looking forward to reading it.

It was incredible to be able to meet Gary in person, he is an inspiration when it comes to the world of social media, he just gets it and it is mainly through his own experiences at

Gary's second book

Here are some great quotes from his second book "The Thank You Economy" this will give you a taste of Gary's opinion towards social media.

"A lot of companies resist building a Facebook wall, blogging, or starting a Twitter or YouTube account because an irate customer might post negative comments. So what? Would you prefer that the customer post them somewhere else where you have absolutely no way to reply? Or somewhere you can't even find? If you're that afraid of your customer, you might want to take a closer look at how you're doing business."

"If you are going to launch a campaign, it has to be one that evokes an emotion so that people feel compelled to share. Give them something to talk about, unleash the power of word of mouth, and allow them to pull you into their consciousness."??

"Develop creative work that allows the platforms to rally, to work together to extend your story, continue the conversation, and connect with your audience. It's not enough to simply throw a Twitter or Facebook logo at the bottom of your ad, or show at the end of your TV commercial. That's about as exciting and useful as saying "We have a phone!" or "Found in most stores!"

"In the future, the companies with tremendous "relationship capital" will be the ones to succeed. Society is creating an ecosystem that rewards good manners, high touch, honesty, and integrity. Ten years from now, every company will have a Chief Culture Officer on staff and, if big enough, a team dedicated to scaling one-on-one relationships."

Essentially, companies just need to start caring and work towards becoming a truly consumer centric business. At the end of the day, customers just want to know that you care and that you are listening. Without customers, there would be no business.

"There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everyone from the chairman down, simply by spending his money somewhere else." - Sam Walton, 1977.

Saturday, 24 May 2014


Austin Kleon is the author of two influential and best-selling books: "Steal Like An Artist" and "Newspaper Blackout". His third book, "Show Your Work!", was published in March 2014. He was one of the keynote speakers at SXSW Interactive 2014.
Here is some context about his book "Steal Like An Artist" and his keynote. Back in 2005 he had a serious case of writer's block. So while he was sitting at his desk, without words, he looked down and noticed the rubbish bin that was full of old newspapers, with lots of words. 

He took out one of the papers and picked up his black marker that he uses for drawing and started putting blocks around the words that stood out to him and then started to connect these words to different phrases and funny sayings, and lastly he would black out all the words that he didn't need. 

Creative work

He started posting his creations on his blog and called them Newspaper Blackout poems and slowly over time they started to gain traction online. 

But then people started to get in contact with him to tell him that his work was un-original and that an artist by the name of Tom Phillips started drawing on pages in a similar way back in the 60's. This has been a life-long project for Tom that he has been doing for over 40 years. 

However after chatting to Tom Philips, Austin discovered that Tom got this project idea from reading a Paris Review interview with the writer William Burroughs who was talking about his cut-up method of writing. 

After researching further, Austin discovered that William Burroughs got his idea for the cut-up method from his friend Brion Gysin who was a painter and one day when cutting a canvas he accidentally cut through a pile of newspapers. The way the newspaper cuttings could be strung together gave him the idea of a different way to write poetry. 

But Austin didn't stop there, he went on to do some more research and discovered that 30 years before that there was a poet named Tristan Tzara who got on stage with a hat and a newspaper and would then proceed to cut up the newspaper and put the pieces in the hat and then start pulling out the pieces one by one to form a poem.

Austin traced this concept all the way back to 1734 where a guy by the name of Caleb Whitefoord used to read the newspapers across the columns versus reading from top to bottom. He would get these funny combinations of phrases that he would share with his friends and then he went on to publish a broadsheet of them. 

No original idea

Now this may seem like a lot of useless information, however this sets the scene for Austin's topic "how to steal like an artist". Essentially after doing this research he traced the concept of writing poetry from newspapers back 250 years before he posted his first Blackout Poem. 

This just goes to show that there is nothing that is completely original, all creative works builds on what came before or is a remix of previous ideas. 

A quote from Steve Jobs: "Good artists copy, great artists steal."

During Austin's keynote at SXSW Interactive 2014 he spoke about a concept called "Scenius". Scenius essentially means that creativity doesn't happen in a vacuum, a great concept comes from a scene of different people and bright minds. It is a collaborative effort even though some of the individuals indirectly involved in the process might not even know that they have contributed. 

Sharing great work

Austin went on to explain how SXSW is essentially one huge Scenius setup, lots of innovative, entrepreneurial great minds, sharing in one place. We need to move away from being "hoarders of great ideas and work" we need to share great work that we love. If we do this we will eventually meet the people who love the work you share and those that create the work that you love. 

Always give credit, this allows others to dig deeper and find out more and hopefully continue to evolve the "work". 

Austin's keynote resonated with me because I have often thought there is no new idea or concept and that's just it, you don't have to come up with the "next big thing", you just have to find something that you love and then start "stealing like an artist".

You can find out more about Austin Kleon here:

Thursday, 22 May 2014


Before coming to SXSW I asked some friends that had been before to give me some tips and advice.
One of the things they all mentioned was, "don't worry about #FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out), this is unavoidable, just try plan your day as much as possible and make the most of it."

Well, their advice was very true, every day was a constant state of #FOMO, it wasn't just the amazing talks that one might miss out on, but it is everything else that happens during SXSW. Experiences like meeting Nicolas Cage, seeing Snoop Dog, watching Cold Play & Imagine Dragons perform live, meetingGrumpy Cat or Justin Bieber performing one song at a random venue (not that this would be a #FOMO experience for me, I'm not the biggest Bieber fan).

So many talks, not enough time

The streets are full of different queues of people waiting for some unique experience, so in your mind your are always thinking, "Why are they queuing? Should I be queuing? Am I missing out?".

It sounds easy to just plan one day, but it really isn't. With over 800 talks it became nearly impossible. For every time slot there were usually over five talks at the same time that I would want to attend, then while attending one talk you would check Twitter out and see an even better talk going on just down the road (hence why you always had to have a back-up).

I also had the best intentions of covering my experience at the end of each day (very ambitious, I know) and write an article summarizing some of the most interesting talks, but this was just not possible, one literally doesn't stop from 7am to after 12am. It is overwhelming.

Part of the experience

This is however all part of the experience I guess. It is also about the people you meet, I have made some incredible friends during my time at SXSW and I am sure I will be in touch with them for many years to come.

SXSW is not a conference, an Expo or even a festival, the best way to describe it is as an experience, a truly unforgettable experience.

As they say, better late than never and because I have now caught up on the craziness at work, the jet lag and the SXSW lag, I will be unpacking some of the most interesting talks that I attended over the next couple of weeks.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014


As you can imagine, SXSW Interactive attracts "digital natives" from all over the world that essentially wouldn't be able to survive without their mobile apps. Here is my list of top apps for SXSW Interactive 2014:
  1. SXSW (Obviously) 

    This is an obvious one but it is definitely the first app one should download and start exploring. This will become your ultimate tool to manage your time effectively while you are at SXSW 2014. With this app you can browse the lineup, create your personal schedule and login to sync it with your other devices. It also helps you find your way around Austin, navigate the trade show and stay connected to others attending.

  2. AirBnB

    If you snooze, you lose, this is especially the case when it comes to accommodation for SXSW. Most of the hotels in close proximity to the Convention Centre sell out almost immediately. This is where AirBnB will be your saving grace. I believe that this company is going to revolutionise the hospitality/hotel industry completely. If you don't believe me, try it for yourself. 

    It has an exceptionally slick and easy-to-navigate user experience, the best I have ever come across. With this app you will definitely find great accommodation for your stay during SXSW. 

  3. Clear

    If you are like me, to-do lists are an integral part of life. There are hundreds of different "to-do" and "notes" apps available however, I find them either too simple or too complicated. 

    I have tried many but for me Clear is by far the best. It is very simple to use, has a great interface and it syncs seamlessly across all my devices. This way if I am on my iPhone, MacBook or iPad, I can always add or remove something on my list. The best feeling is the sound it makes when you tick items off the list, definitely some user psychology behind that. 

  4. TripIt

    Once your entire itinerary has been finalised, it always helps having all this information in one place. TripIt does just this; you can include all your travel information, from your flights, car rental details, activities, notes and lots more. 

  5. Transit Times

    When traveling abroad it is always a case of "how do I get to my accommodation?" Once you leave the airport and you can't always rely on your network provider, for example my roaming currently isn't working, so I have zero connectivity but that's where this app is great, it works offline. The only time you will need to connect is if you want to update the schedule. 

    These are my five apps that will definitely make your SXSW experience a great one, let me know what other apps you would recommend. 

    Watch this space for more updates from SXSW Interactive 2014:

Monday, 19 May 2014


South by Southwest Interactive is one of the largest digital festivals in the world. Anyone who is in the advertising or digital industry should definitely have this event on their bucket list. This is the 21st festival and it takes place from 7-11 March in Austin, Texas. (video)
The festival attracts some of the brightest and most innovative minds in the digital, media, technology, mobile, entrepreneurial and gaming sectors plus lots more. There are hundreds of different presentations, panel discussions, meet-ups and parties to attend during the five days. 

Here is a taste of the SXSW experience. 

SXSW is definitely the place to preview future technologies and innovations that will inevitably become the "next big thing". 

Keynote speakers

Some of the keynote speakers this year include:
This year I am fortunate to be attending on behalf of Base2. I will be sharing my experiences day by day so if you are not able to attend this year, make sure you don't miss out on any of the action, follow the happenings here:
Stay tuned for updates live from the 2014 SXSW Interactive Festival.