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Lost In Austin: Thoughts From Two Newbies to SXSW

Posted 13 March 2015 3:00 PM by Renee Blake & Eric Payne

Renee Blake: 5 Days of Curiosity


I’m a SXSW newbie. I'm super excited and already overwhelmed. 

I travel quite a bit for business, so I've got the security line shortcuts down. I'm totally comfy in unfamiliar cities, and I secretly enjoy awkward conversations with cabbies. However, this is different. I'm going to SXSW. In Austin (which I'm told is one of the coolest places on the planet!), I won't be making last-minute changes to a client presentation up until the wee hours the night before, and I won't be dreading the time away from my kids (ok, that’s a tiny lie: I'll be texting them weird pics constantly because they are the funniest people I know). Instead, I will be well-rested. I will be a sponge — the poster child for a creative director ready to be inspired.

I've studied the interactive keynotes (I mean, c'mon; Princess Reema Bint Bandar Al-Saud? Very cool.) I've got my preferred itinerary down to include my session: "Speed Dating For Massive Social Impact." And I've RSVP'd to attend some awesome parties. 

So why am I worried? Because I don't know what I don't know. I fear I will be overambitious. I worry that my curiosity will lead me to missed opportunities. I’m concerned that I will be late to sessions, that I will change my life as I know it, or be distracted by a surprising exhibition that will take me off my well-conceived and tightly wound plan. Five days is a long time to stay focused, hydrated and interested. Can I do this? Can I keep up with the masses? The mayhem? The millennials, for goodness’ sake?

Well I guess we're going to find out — together. Yes, I will be excited and overwhelmed, but I will also be connected constantly. Follow me on Twitter @RCBlake_23 or my blog: http://reneeblake.com/blog/ Also, I'm going with my buddy and fellow Moxiean, Eric @EPayneTheDad, and we will undoubtedly be experiencing these shenanigans uniquely. Follow us both at the hashtag #remoxd

I can't wait to see what 5 days of condensed curiosity brings.

Eric Payne: Alone, But Not Really


I've never been to SXSW before. In fact, at the very real risk of dating myself, I’ll reveal the last time I’ve traveled for business was when I was a New Yorker and a wanna-be yuppie working for State Farm Insurance. It was a company-wide conference in Atlantic City, New Jersey. During my time there, I went to some of the sessions, ate as much food as humanly possible, soaked up life on the Boardwalk, made sure my boss saw me a few times and spent my nights partying with my coworkers.

Life as a Creative wasn’t even a thought for me back then, although I had been writing since the second grade and was furiously working on my Great American novel at the time (still am). In hindsight, I'm not sure the offerings were what they are now. In the late nineties, most of the African Americans I knew with degrees like mine[PH1]  were running in droves toward law, medicine, investment banking, human resources and teaching. Additionally, digital simply didn’t exist — aside from ugly, green, DOS-based email. At the time, I knew about advertising and marketing from glossy ads in the magazines I read, but I never considered there was a fit there for a guy like me. And now, almost 20 years later, here I am working for Moxie. And I wear a belt with notches in it from places such as The Coca-Cola Company, The Home Depot and Publix. And now I’m going to SXSW.

I’m experiencing a mix of emotions ranging from excitement to fear. I’m typically not away from my family for more than a couple days at a time, my wife is actually the business traveler between us. And when I do go away I’m typically visiting extended family or off on a short hop presenting at a blogging conference. Despite what SXSW veterans have shared, I have no idea what awaits me in Austin, Texas, where I’ll be immersed in entertainment, tech, content and most importantly people from Friday the 13th (what a date!) to the following Tuesday.

I’ll be lost in Austin — but not exactly. My survivalist blogger/influencer instincts kicked in after I got the nod from my department to attend. I’ve connected with more than a handful of folks I know on Twitter who’ll be at SXSW on behalf of their respective companies, agencies and brands. Always the storyteller and never one to shy away from testing new ways to communicate, I’ve downloaded the SXSW app to my iPhone and linked my social accounts to it. People from around the country have since reached out to me, looking to connect on content, digital, coffee and, of course, alcohol.

Feel free to follow me on Twitter at @EPayneTheDad and on Instagram at PhotosbyEPayne and be sure to tune in to both Renee and me as we share our experiences via the #remoxd hashtag. Learn, discover and grow with me as I begin my journey lost in Austin, where I fully intend to emerge found.

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