Turned Down by SXSW – Awesome!

You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.  In this case, I’ve missed a shot that I took as well.

The programming announcements for SXSW Interactive came out today and, of the 450 chosen out of the over 3,000 submitted, the session that a colleague and I hoped to present did not get accepted.

In many ways, this could be looked at as a letdown.  Fortunately though there are way too many ways that it can be looked at as a win. Here are some:

  • We tried. We took the plunge and submitted the application to present.  When drafting up our proposal and just before hitting submit I got that nervous feeling in the pit of my stomach that meant it must be the right thing to do.  Every time I’ve had that feeling and went through with it it was because of some kind of perceived risk that ended up not being risky at all.  Not doing it would have been more risky. When I get that feeling it usually means I’m about to grow or learn. I never have to wonder ‘what if’ I submitted, instead I know.
  • We failed.  Every little failure builds up that muscle inside you that helps you take the next risk or the next step in whatever you try.  In my case, the more I’ve failed, the more I feel like I can do anything.
  • The freedom to present our way.  While we were turned down by the formal process, it doesn’t mean we can’t find a way to present what we want.  If we really want to present this, the lack of the formal program is just a hiccup. We could just find a space near the main conference and invite people over. Never let small obstacles, like a planning committee, get in the way of your vision.
  • Being better next time.  Asking the question ‘what can I learn from this’ to yourself or ‘what can I do better next time’ to others involved has always helped me find something to improve on or at least a hidden lesson that helps me prepare better for next time.  We may not get to ask SXSW why, but there’s plenty to learn just from going through the process.

Yes, it would have been amazing to be part of the formal program and it would be something I would be honored by only because I think it would have been fun to share and we would have worked really hard on making it great.  Plus, I think having “Speaker” on my badge would get me free drinks.  Now we’ll just have to work harder on making whatever’s next even better and on enjoying all of the other amazing programming that is SXSW.

Matt Kane

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