My SXSW 2016 Session Preview and First-Timer Advice

Greg Swan SXSW

I’ve blogged at-length about the importance of South by Southwest and its effect on my career. I’ve reached the decade mark in attending this conference every March, and it seriously gets better every year.

This year, I was thrilled to be named to the SXSW Advisory Board and have a hand selecting sessions for the Intelligent Future track. It was so exciting to read all of the submissions and have a role in curating which would be on display across program in Austin.

In addition, I’m excited to share I’m also presenting alongside Marc Jensen, my spaceLab partner and space150’s Chief Innovation Officer.

It’s my fourth time presenting at the conference, and this one is extremely different than the others…

Links Worth Clicking:

Interview snippet:

Why should attendees prioritize your talk?
Since the PanelPicker went live, we’ve seen Tumblr launch private instant messaging, Twitter expand direct messages to more than 140 characters, and Snapchat launch new tools to enable dark social engagement. We’ve also had millions of children’s data and head shots released in a huge data leak in deep web. By March, attendees will need to be reconciling the new shift away from public social and indexed web, to considering how consumer behavior back to private channels where it all began (chat! message boards! texts!) and then beyond — into the darker, more sinister realms of the human psyche as it manifests online.

We speak opposite President Obama’s keynote. I wish him well filling his room going up Marc and I as competition.


In 2014 I curated an extensive First-timer SXSW advice from the Pros post that’s worth checking out if you’re a newbie this year. Lots of good insights there from a host of friends who attend each year. Otherwise, my must-do’s are below…

Greg’s advice for first-time SXSW attendees:

  • Seek out the smartest, weirdest, most disruptive topics and experiences you could not get back home.
  • Do not go to any of your own company or client’s sessions unless you absolutely must. It’s a wasted hour.
  • Do not go to any sessions that are essentially case studies you could read about online.
  • Do not go to any sessions where you yourself could be on the panel.
  • Do not to go any sessions with a movie, television or social media celebrity.
  • If a session sucks, get up and walk out immediately. You picked the crappy session, but you don’t have to sit there for an hour being pissed.
  • Again, seek out the smartest, weirdest, most disruptive topics and experiences you could not get back home.
  • Go to everything early, and expect to wait in line.
  • Bring battery backups for your devices.
  • Eat a big breakfast.
  • Wear comfortable walking shoes.
  • Bring a jacket that can tolerate rain.
  • Network like crazy. Don’t hang out with your crew from back home. Meet and befriend creatives, innovators and disrupters.
  • Eat a good dinner each night. Make dinner reservations in advance and invite strangers you meet during the day to hang out and process after the sessions wrap.
  • Spend a day when you get home processing, writing and sharing your takeaways (and formally connecting with the amazing people you met).
  • Lastly, if you aren’t willing to put in the effort for an amazing experience, stay home next year and complain about it on Twitter with everyone else. And maybe rethink your career track.

Want to hang out? Best way to hook up is text — 612-845-1020.

See you in Austin!