High Fives and New Vibes: Making Connections at SXSW
Setting the Stage
The SXSW 2023 Startup and Future of Work Track brought together startups, industry leaders, and forward-thinkers, creating an electrifying atmosphere to explore the future of work.
From insightful panel discussions and hands-on workshops to game-changing ideas, the week was a memorable experience that offered a look into the future of how we will work and collaborate.
Having the privilege of being part of the advisory board and evaluating early-stage businesses in the Future of Work sector, I was thrilled to attend SXSW and finally meet these founders in person.
Armed with a meticulously planned agenda, I dove into the conference content while also seizing the invaluable networking opportunities that arose at affiliated events.
What We Saw & Heard
Rainey Street became the beating heart of innovation, where I noticed a recurring theme in the Future of Work panels and keynotes—a collective commitment to care for the remote work population.
Both companies and local governments recognized the urgency of addressing turnover and burnout. I discovered various solutions, including grant incentives, the adoption of a four-day work week, and AI-driven automation of internal business operations.
Yet, what struck me most were the deeply personal stories shared by founders in the Future of Work space. Their products were born out of their own pain points, whether it was creating job boards for equity in hiring or developing productivity solutions to foster stronger bonds within distributed teams.
These entrepreneurs are bridging gaps and recognizing employees as multidimensional individuals, not mere dots on a screen.
We Made Some Friends
Maybe it was the taco trucks or the glorious sunshine, but SXSW provided the perfect backdrop for genuine and meaningful conversations.
Work was discussed, of course, but we also dove into the personal motivations that drive us. Networking didn’t feel forced; instead, I found myself in group chats and receiving invites to grab food after sessions. I even experienced an epic AI escape room custom-built out of a shipping container.
By lunchtime on Day 2, I felt like a pro-attendee as I balanced both engaging with the formal programming and immersing myself in the vibrant networking scene. Inside, I relished the speed round pitches and the challenging questions posed by judges. And let’s not forget the heavenly air conditioning that provided sweet relief from the scorching 90-degree heat.
Reflecting on my goals for each day allowed me to enjoy the flexibility and breadth of content available.
Looking Ahead to Next Year
As you prepare for your own adventure at SXSW next year, remember that it’s not just about accumulating knowledge; it’s about forming incredible friendships and asking thought-provoking questions.
Embrace the opportunity to connect with fellow attendees, dive into their perspectives, and let genuine conversations work their magic. This transformative experience will leave you feeling empowered and inspired.
My biggest takeaway from the Future of Work discussions? It’s up to us, the workforce, to actively shape a brighter future alongside the entire community. We’re not mere spectators; we’re fully invested in making a difference. Personal convictions are driving powerful solutions, and SXSW provided the ideal platform to showcase them.
I brought the Southern hospitality of SXSW back to Chicago, so if you’re thinking about pitching or attending next year, let’s make sure to link up. Oh, and don’t forget the sunscreen—it’s a must-have! 😊