Here are five concepts from SXSW Online 2021 that inspire artists, business leaders, and entrepreneurs.
Log-in passwords replace industry badges at SXSW Online 2021 with few musicians or technologists in Austin, Texas this year for the popular film, interactive media, and music festivals. COVID-19 remains a health crisis, and SXSW staffers deliver a virtual program in response. Meetings, mentorship, and networking take place on laptops and smartphones.
SXSW attendees stream film screenings, keynote presentations, music performances, and panels.
Conference speakers include Stacey Abrams, author and founder of voting rights organizations like Fair Fight, philanthropist Melinda Gates, and Pete Buttigieg, the 19th U.S. Secretary of Transportation. Other presenters include Adobe Chief Product Officer Scott Belsky, Aisha Glover, Vice President of Urban Innovation, Audible, Carolina Pluszczynski, Michigan Central Mobility Innovation District Development Director, Ford Motor Company. These speakers come from corporations, government, non-profits, and startups across diverse industries. Their presentations deliver core questions supporting the values driving SXSW.
When it comes to taking part in SXSW, or any creative summit for that matter, filmmakers, marketers, musicians, and startup founders have to balance budgets versus rewards.
Are the resources spent attending SXSW worth it? How will SXSW artists, business leaders, and entrepreneurs help you tell your story, define your purpose, and build a community of supporters?
Tech ecosystems can be competitive sometimes to the point of being cutthroat. There’s hustle at SXSW and fierce competition to land a panel slot in the festival programs. There’s also a strong spirit of community. If you take the time to connect with attendees and share your stories, SXSW transforms into a powerful, open focus group providing mentorship and valuable feedback.
Prioritize Your Purpose and Values
Veteran entrepreneur and investor Mark Cuban joins Kendra Scott, designer and founder of Kendra Scott, and ‘Fast Company’ Editor in Chief Stephanie Mehta for a panel discussion on the growth benefits of investing in local communities. Defining your purpose is vital for business leaders and entrepreneurs, no matter the size of your enterprise. Purpose-driven products and services are not just for corporations. Customers and investors want to know the values driving all businesses, from startups to emerging companies.
‘The best businesses start with their backs against the wall and without capital. Go for it. That’s where the funding will find you.’ – Mark Cuban, Founder, Mark Cuban Companies.
Close Digital Divides to Meet Customers Where They Are
Michael Katz, Executive Vice President, T-Mobile for Business, leads an SXSW panel with healthcare leaders Mona Patel, Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, Natalie Pageler, Stanford Children’s Health, and Jackie Ward of Texas Children’s Hospital. Their focus is revolutionizing healthcare by closing the digital divide between hospitals and communities without access to the internet and smart devices. Closing digital divides is a goal relevant to all business leaders, design professionals, and entrepreneurs, no matter the industry. The value of closing digital divides increases the likelihood of meeting one’s customers where they live and work. You remove barriers to buying products, sharing services, and telling your story. You also increase opportunities for diverse collaborations and partnerships.
“The City of Houston is diverse. Our focus is on meeting patients where they are. That’s why we prioritize improving equity and access to diverse communities.” – Jackie Ward of Texas Children’s Hospital.
Embrace XR Tech to Build Empathy and Make Real Change
Leaders in XR storytelling, including Nonny De La Pena, Emblematic Group, Gabo Arora, Lightshed, Tiffany Kieran, EARTHxFilm, and Fifer Garbesi, freelance VR director and producer, share XR projects that impact communities for good. The panelists also discuss how evolving XR tech like volumetric capture leads to greater emotional possibilities. XR is a new medium yet to be taken over by advertising. This newness allows XR storytellers to connect people, focus on what makes us human, make empathy a priority, and think differently. As a result, XR storytellers increase opportunities for making real change.
“Let people speak for themselves with this new VR technology. Make sure people have the right to tell their stories. The paradox is that a tech that supposedly isolated you with headsets connects people with their fellow humans and challenges binary ways of thinking.” – Gabo Arora, Chief Executive, and Founder, Lightshed.
Accelerate Digital Humanism
Leading technologists Eric Loeb, Executive Vice President, Government Affairs, Salesforce, Stavros Lambrinidis, Ambassador, Delegation of the European Union to the United States, Gerfried Stocker, Artistic Director, Ars Electronica, and Clara Blume, Head of Art + Tech, Open Austria, share ideas on accelerating digital transformation and establishing a digital humanism. When artists and technologists collaborate via out-of-the-box thinking, innovation and technology become positive and promote values around democracy, diplomacy, and trustworthiness.
“Tech is sometimes human but not always humane. The main idea behind a platform for digital humanism is driving discussion around art, culture, and creativity. The focus is on commercial opportunities and money. We need to return to art and cultural technology like DaVinci and Michelangelo.” – Gerfried Stocker, Artistic Director, Ars Electronica.
Promote Connectivity and Mobility Innovation
Pete Buttigieg, the 19th U.S. Secretary of Transportation, returns to SXSW for a keynote to share his ideas for transforming America’s transportation infrastructure via empathy and equity. Other mobility thought leaders speaking at other SXSW panels include Carolina Pluszczynski, Michigan Central Mobility Innovation District Development Director in Detroit. Buttigieg shares specific goals for fixing existing infrastructure, upgrading national airspace, and providing green automobile choices and alternative options to car ownership. He understands that concepts promoting accessible design and equity in mobility impact all businesses and industries, from agriculture to energy and healthcare. Embracing a spirit for connectivity will help artists, business leaders, and entrepreneurs grow a community of supporters.
“You make better decisions when guided by empathy. Empathy guides us and makes our policies better. Remember that everyone who is moving has a story for why they are moving. These stories are the things that make us move.” – Pete Buttigieg, the 19th U.S. Secretary of Transportation.
It’s inspiring connecting with fellow attendees and festival presenters throughout the 2021 SXSW Online Festival. The festival’s digital platform exceeds expectations regarding connectivity and the community spirit that’s core to SXSW missions and values. The 2021 SXSW Online Festival may officially wrap on March 20, but the inspiration continues via on-demand programming through April 18. It’s like SXSW week transforms into SXSW month.
Thanks to 2021 SXSW Online Festival attendees and presenters, our lives will dramatically change for the better. The impact may occur with your business. It may also impact you on a personal level. Are you a 2021 SXSW Online Festival alum? Share your insights and takeaways via Twitter @steveramosmedia or Instagram @originalfeed