Six Things I Learned at my First SxSWi

That’s me second from the right with @JessBerlin, @MelissaRowley, @BrianSolis, @Pistachio, @Rabeidoh and the photobomber. ;) (cc) Kenneth Yeung –

Holy smokes I survived my very first SxSWi (interactive) and I must jot down my thoughts while they’re still fresh. You know, this old age stuff is making me very forgetful. FINE. I just have a bad memory. Anyway, moving on!

Whatever you do people, listen to me: you must MUST stay close to downtown. Austin is this tragic land where hailing a cab is nearly impossible. Heck, the cabs with their lights on don’t stop. And. AND it takes forever and a flippin’ day for a cab to come, even after you call them.

2. Make friends with cab drivers
I am not even kidding. The very first cab driver you have rapport with, make sure you tip well and use that one driver for your entire trip there. It will save you a lot of time.

3. Fogo de Chao is overpriced and mediocre
For those who have never been to Sx, you are probably reading this going wtf? But seriously, Fogo de Cao is one of the nicer establishments conveniently located downtown. There will be many dinners there (sit down dinners) that you will probably be invited to. It is not a casual restaurant for BBQ and it is also a chain. Before agreeing to dinner, I recommend evaluating worth. One meal there is about $400 with alcohol, tip and labor — as in your time spent. So think — especially about the company — before agreeing to a dinner there. Note: this doesn’t apply solely to Fogo — there are so many people, so many events going on simultaneously, the most valuable thing at Sx is time. ;)

4. Brunch and breakfasts
It is near impossible to meet people for happy hour, quick drinks and by late night everyone is so wasted, if you are looking to build meaningful relationships, breakfasts, brunch, coffee and or lunch is the best time to connect. I also recommend scheduling with three to five (max) of the people you want to meet before Sx.

5. Put one day aside to avoid your friends
On my third and last day in Austin, I purposely avoided every place my friends checked into on Foursquare to meet new people. It was the best thing I did. Don’t get me wrong, I met up with my friends late night to party but because I avoided the usual suspects during the day and into the early evening, I met and connected with: Jeff Jarvis, Leo Laporte, editors and journalists from LA Times, CNN and NY Times, and the VP of Social Media for National Geographic. Craziness.

6. No badge needed
In case you hadn’t noticed, I didn’t bring up panels, talks and or the actual convention. Unless Sx kicks their content game up, I will most likely go badgeless again next year (if I go.) Sx is all about networking and connecting with people in person. I don’t need to attend people’s panels since I already read their blogs. Plus, recorded sessions show up on YouTube, Vimeo, et al. :)

The very last and most important thing I learned at SxSW is how honored and humbled I am to be connected to so many phenomenal people. The people who move and shake the Internet are…my friends (!) and even lovelier in person than they are online. I am so fortunate to have met the people I have.

So that was seven things, but whatever.
SxSWi 2010 and all my friends: I LOVE YOU. And thank you, Austin for your hospitality!!

MySpace is My New Space and My Big Move to LaLa-Land!

A lot of people have been asking if I moved to L.A., and I didn’t want to say anything until I was sure. Since last year, I have been contracting with MySpace and only told a few close friends. However, as more people are starting to find out I thought it was time I finally talked (or blogged) about my move and what not.

Are you cringing right now? It’s ok if you are, I completely understand. Heck, almost everyone I told’s first reactions was this hilarious face — like they guzzled a jar of pickle juice type sour face — immediately proceeded with a WHY?!? People have also told me the same bajillion reasons why I am out of my mind to want to work there, followed with the prying: “What’s going on? Are you guys tanking?” etc., etc., so when I say it’s ok, I understand, I do.

However, I am proud and honored to be a part of this phenomenal team and MySpace is far from dead. It’s funny how one of the first things out of people’s mouths are: “MySpace isn’t going to beat Facebook.” and that’s completely ok too, since MySpace isn’t trying to be “a Facebook.” Yes, we are both social platforms but what we leave out of the equation is the most important piece: target audience.

An excerpt from a “MySpace isn’t dead.” piece:

If you check the most recent comscore, MySpace has grown 2 months in a row, and is back up to 120MM users worldwide. That may not sound huge compared with Facebook’s 350MM, but it is still 2X twitter’s audience, and blows almost any other site out of the water. We in Silicon Valley tend to think that when something is not hockey-sticking anymore than it is dead. That is not true. If MySpace lost 1MM users a month it would take 10 years to disappear. That still gives them some time to figure out what to do. (read the rest here.

MySpace still owns the 0-17 and 18-24 age groups. We tend to forget — especially, since we are no longer in those age groups. ;)

I believe in MySpace for many reasons and thrilled to be a part of this organization. The team — my co-workers and bosses — rock my socks off, you have no idea of the collective brain power and charisma (pertinent to leadership roles) this group has. The camaraderie and creative energy is something I definitely want to be a part of. I wish I can introduce you guys to everyone, for they are an exceptional bunch. I am so lucky to have the opportunity to work with and learn from these individuals, respectively.

There are still many many reasons, product related reasons — most I cannot talk about — all I will say is stay tuned. ;)

So to all of you asking me about my So Cal Foursquare check-ins or L.A. Yelp reviews: Yes, I moved to L.A. for this once in a lifetime opportunity. :) If you are ever in the area (or even live down here) you are more than welcome to stop by. We’ll go have tater tots from @grlldcheesetruk, they come once a week!

ps: there is more after the jump, but it is all personal (sappy) stuff, fyi. Continue reading

Ignite LA Kinda Sucked #igniteLA

I sat on this post a day for I did not want to be the a-hole slamming such an amazing event, but two days later, I still stick by my initial thoughts: IgniteLA sucked.

Technical difficulties, it happens. Cruddy venue with sticky carpets and not enough chairs… hey, that happens too — especially since the event is free. But everyone I know who attends Ignites leaves…ignited. It was so disappointing how the night kicked off with a huge plug from APOC – USC’s New Media graduate program. The speaker, lectured us on the digital age, about how we are connected via Internet more than ever and how things go “viral” through Internet communities. Then. THEN she ended her speech by plugging her program and telling us graduates intern at top tech companies like Yahoo!. Uhhhhhhhhhhh okay. Whatever you say, lady, but most of us there are already eating, sleeping and breathing the Internet. Know your audience, Public Speaking 101. Correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t Ignites about charging creativity, showcasing original, obscure people in the community…? That presentation set an unfortunate tone to the night.

Another huge bummer: IgniteLA’s site is under construction. That happens, sure, but the site is in Flash. Flash. FLASH. Really? REALLY? The least they could’ve done was put up a schedule or list of speakers. I only remember three of the speakers and that’s because they are my peers or friends of friends. What about the people who attended for the first time? How are they supposed to connect with the speakers?

Aside from a few presentations, I wish the content was vetted more carefully. There were some bizarre bizarre presentations, including one with the slide: RED. WET. HARD. (LOL) and it almost seemed like the organizers were showcasing their personal friends (most of the speakers were introduced as “My very very very good and amazing amazing friend x and x.”) The ones who weren’t their friends, were introduced with a disclaimer: “The next speaker came highly recommended by “so and so.” So weird. Frankly, I don’t care who a person is, who they know, who they are connected to, or where they they come from. Just give me awesome content. The most troubling was how the final slide of all the presentations didn’t have any of the speakers’ Twitter names or URLs.

On top of that, there was no Ustream, no official hashtag, and hardly anyone was live Tweeting. Perhaps I am spoiled by the caliber of the other Ignites, but LA is a great city with so many collective creative minds, it was a shame this Ignite left me wanting more UMPH.

Maybe next time, I guess…? (Well, I hope.)

added: Natasha and LaLaWag were underwhelmed too… #justsayin