My Favorite SXSW Talk (better late than never)

The timing wasn’t great. It was a 9:30 am talk on the Sunday morning the day after Daylight Savings time was implemented and a night of ridiculously epic parties. Parties that lasted well into the morning. It was a struggle to get out of bed, shower, and make my way to the convention center. But it was also something I really wanted to see, not just because of the subject matter (creative leaders), but also because of the speaker (Sarah B. Nelson).

Technically speaking, I first met Sarah because I’m the number one fan of the band she’s in (Porkchop Express).  I’ve known her professionally as well, and also run into her in social situations. She’s a woman I admire – she comes across as strong, determined, and true to her values. She’s an incredibly talented musician and designer, and has a wicked sense of humor as well. So despite the time challenges, I was determined to make it to her session. And I’m so glad I did.

In a down-to-earth and straightforward manner, Sarah shared personal examples of leadership experiences that had both gone well, and gone not so well. Key takeaways were:

  • Sit down and map out expectations at the beginning of the project. Find out the goals, hopes, and dreams of each team member. Listen to team members’ fears and concerns. Document their expectations., both of each other and the team.
  • Know your own fears. Say them out loud. Acknowledge them.
  • If you’re angry, stop. What are you afraid of? Be aware of HALT. If you’re feeling hungry, angry, lonely, or tired, take a break. Take care of yourself. You can’t give to others before you’ve taken care of yourself.
  • If you have to kill an idea, present viable options to a client. Encourage the team to do a refine/evaluation. Be honest. What works? What doesn’t? What ideas can be salvaged?

If you’re interested in learning more, talk a look at the slides. It was an incredibly inspiring way to spend a Sunday morning.

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