“A two day stay, you may say I need the time alone, to relax my dome, no phone, left the nine at home.” – Nas
This year I was lucky enough to attend my first SXSW. I learned so much, met so many interesting people and had so much fun that it kind of felt like compressing an entire semester of college into a week.
I went to over 20 panels and the most interesting co-presenters had to be Ben Horowitz, a venture capitalist, and the rapper Nas.
Ben is a nerdy, white investor raised in Berkeley.
And Nas is well, Nas.
The Unlikely couple
They really couldn’t be more different but, the two have been good friends for years. They’ve not just been friends but have influenced each others lives and inspired one another in pretty interesting ways.
Ben talked about taking business lessons from Nas’ lyrics of growing up in the projects, rising to fame and raising a family. Nas talked about admiring and learning from Ben as an entrepreneur.
How many VCs are good friends with a rapper? How many rappers are friends with investors?
Not many – but maybe more should be.
The theme of cross-pollination was one I noticed through multiple panels at SXSW and it was perfectly illustrated in Nas and Ben sharing a stage together.
It’s easy to get confined to your industry and read the same blogs and magazines as everyone else.
Attend the same industry conferences.
Hang out with people who only work in your industry.
That’s what is amazing about SXSW – the diversity of presentations and people attending.
It’s labeled as an “Interactive” conference but the breadth of topics is HUGE. Where else can you go to a presentation on Robotics, then go to a panel on creativity, follow it up with crowdfunding in non-profits and top things off with a talk on astrophysics?
To get truly creative and new ideas, I’d encourage you to get your head out of the sand and cross-pollinate with people and things that seem to have nothing directly related to what you do.
You might be surprised what you can take back to your work.