As I sat on the plane returning from Texas I was basically slowly dying inside. My brain was overloaded with more knowledge from four days than I probably learned in a semester of college. I was lacking sleep, sanity, and proper nutrition away from BBQ and Mexican food.
In those four and overwhelming days I learned a lot about myself, about the city, and about a few of the people around the world that flock to SXSW to gain knowledge and share free drinks. I am beyond grateful for the amazing experience, and now I feel it is my duty to share just a fraction of what I learned in my time there.
What I Learned About The World
- Jimmy Kimmel was fired from more than five jobs when he was starting his career.
- Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart are as funny in person as they are on a screen.
- Uber has created more than 300,000 new jobs in America.
- Studies are being released claiming that Uber has led to the drop of DUI rates.
- 30% of traffic is people driving around looking for parking.
- Virtual reality porn is a thing of the future, and the vibrator was the fifth domestic electrical invention.
- In the next 10-20 years we can expect to hear a lot more about mind clones, which will outlive our physical selves. This AI will have rights, the ability to grow, the ability to disagree with [you] as well as divorce [you]. Not convinced? Martine Rothblatt (arguably the most intelligent and enlightening person I will likely ever hear speak) has a prototype. Her name is Bima 48.
- Martine Rothblatt also created a technology to keep lungs “alive” so that there is more time to get them to a transplant. This has led to saving more than 4,000 lives.
- There is science looking into modifying pig organs (the closest animal organs to a humans) so that the human body would not reject it. This will lead to limitless organs available for those who need transplants.
- 3D printing of organs is also a thing of the future.
- There is a game called Ingress that is played internationally and seen as the world’s largest digital scavenger hunt. People have charted helicopters, flown to Antarctica and Siberia to gain advantages in the game.
- A homeless man by the name of Greg Staffa turned to social media to share his story about being homeless, helped other homeless, and was crowd funded to attend SXSW. I suggest you donate to his cause and look differently at the people on the side of the road after hearing his story.
- Women are not allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia, and up until 3 years ago, women were not allowed to work. Princess Reema has helped feminize the workforce and train women not only in their roles as employees, but trains them for life. She is an example to all entrepreneurs and an incredible voice for women internationally.
- “Little words can be a big deal” – a lesson from a Pinterest spokeswoman after multiple failures.
- You are in a social experiment, and what you post is public information. This information can be analyzed and deduces personality traits, risk for mental disease, probability of divorce, and much more. Whenever you “agree” to link something to a social platform, the fine print likely includes your agreement to use your information for research. Your entire personality can be explained even if you’re not on social media through your friend’s posts.
- Twitter data can predict health outbreaks in cities faster than the government can.
- A moment of serendipity led to the invention of: Netflix, Velcro, Apollo 13’s safe return home, and the first incubator.
- We process 27,000 times more information in a single day than someone in 1500 A.D. did in his or her whole lives.
- The new millennium has slowed down our: long-term memory (due to a thing we call FOMO), attention span (which is why things like the Skimm work for this generation), and quick decision making skills (because of weed…seriously).
What I Learned About Myself
- For an introvert, going to a bar for a networking event alone is one of the most panic-inducing experiences you could possibly ever have.
- It is not creepy for a stranger to sit next to you on a park bench, offer to hang out with you, and proceed to exchange business cards.
- It IS creepy for a stranger to sit next to you at the bar, ask your name, say they recognize you from Tinder, and then question why you didn’t respond to their dinner request.
- I always believed traveling alone might bring some sense of peace, but really, it’s terrifying and I accept I am too reserved for it. I’m okay with this.
- I found my husband 129 times at SXSW. They were always in cowboy boots, shaggy hair, stubble, and carrying a guitar case.
What I Learned About Austin
- Austin’s 6th street looks an awful like Bourbon Street (but cleaner).
- Women do not wear heels here, and everyone is okay with it.
- There are more than 4,000 food trucks in and surrounding Austin. More than 2,000 of them are actively operating.
- Pedi-cabs are a really fun form of transportation, especially when provided with: a boom box, a blanket, and a phone charger.
- Sitting alone in the grass to eat tacos is a perfectly acceptable way to spend a 30-minute break in the afternoon.
- Austin has less high rises than most downtown cities because there is an ordinance that you must be able to see the capital building from multiple vantage points.
- People are really, really nice here. Especially my AirBnB host who gave me: free wine, free Jameson, free Girl Scout cookies, free Advil, etc.
- Breakfast tacos are not only acceptable; they’re a required food group.
- You have not had proper BBQ unless you’ve had it in Texas.
What was the biggest lesson of all? There is always more to learn, more to do, and we should never feel complete or satisfied because nothing should ever be perfect. It is imperfection that breeds genius.