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Advise

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All last week my friends, families and co-workers were asking me “how was SXSW?” In situations like these, you never really know how to answer other then a polite, “It was really amazing to get to catch up with folks who I haven’t seen in awhile” or “I saw some really interesting panels.” The truth is that festivals like these are such an overwhelming experience that it’s near impossible to boil down into a few friendly sentences.

In an attempt to communicate what I learned from this year’s south-by, I thought it best to pinpoint the key themes and buzz words that I heard over and over at the conference. This is what I’ve got so far:

1) Decide on an idea and go for it.
Talking about an idea will not make it real and if you don’t make it happen some one else will. This talking point came up in several marketing and social networking panels, including garyvee’s discussion on video blogging.

Personally, I’ve always been a believer that you have to jump off the ledge or you’re never going to know if your wings work. That said, in a sour economy, it’s often difficult to convince others to invest in your idea or to afford making the leap by yourself. The flip side of this conversational coin is that there are just so many ideas! How do you pick which to poor your heart and soul into? My advice: pick one and don’t get distracted by shiny new ideas. If you’re convinced your path is the right path, others will believe and follow.

2) Important of branding
This one sounds obvious but is far deeper than any one person may imagine. The overall message is you’re a brand, the company you work for is a brand, the product or service the company provides is a brand, and the company that supports or sponsors your company is… you guessed it, a brand.

So obviously with all these brands, you risk becoming a shadow in a vast sea of logos if you don’t have a strong brand to bring to the table. To achieve brand status, I suggest that you set a goal, eat live and die your message, and establish a name for yourself if you want to survive. Then start marketing the hell our of yourself. You don’t wait for some one to ask you who you are to become relevant. But you need to know who you are and what your about before anyone will listen.

3) Democratizing Content Will Weed Out the Weak
With media technologies merging, there’s a lot of chatter about whether or not TV will reign supreme, especially when studio-owned and independently-produced programming are being consumed on the same television via the same set top box.

This was a hot topic on the Comedy on TV and Web panel. A few of the speakers pointed out that it’s becoming and less relevant who made a video, TV show, or movie. What matters to the consumer is that the program they are watching is good and will hold their interest for longer than the next video waiting for them in their queue. I couldn’t agree more.

Other topics and conversations overheard in the hallways: ATT = major fail, twitter, twitter, twitter, foursquare, and Zappos is an inspiration.

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Guilty. So insanely guilty. At some point in the past year or so, I convinced myself that watching TV would help me tune my programming eye and improve my knowledge of advertising. There are many examples I could site that would make this statement true, but I’m clearly lying to myself and justifying my own guilty habits.

Turning off the TV and picking up a project is not as easy as it seems. I’ve tried to cure my refuge to laziness by knitting a scarf (currently partially finished and collecting dust my closet). I bought a sewing machine and fun fabric to make a costume (both items are crowding my feet under my desk at work). I marched home with two weeks worth of groceries and cooked for days so that I could pile up the leftovers (which now are poisoned with freezer burn.) So why can’t I get any of these projects to stick?

I think I’ve realized where I keep going wrong. Below are my suggestions for how not to end up like me:

1. Pick a project that you’re good at
*FFF: Don’t pick something that you want to learn or like to do. If you’re not good at it, you’ll soon drop it.

2. Make time or plan ahead
*FFF: Choose a project that you can maintain in time blocks. If you know you’re going to have a busy week, plan to push through a weeks work all in one night. If you have a hectic weekend, plan to go out less after work to make the time.

3. Set a goal and a schedule
*FFF: If you set deadlines, similar to you world at the office, then you’ll be excited when you meet them and may even push yourself harder in the future. And for once in you’re life, you’ll feel the power of being your own boss.

4. Reward yourself for sticking with it
*FFF: Eyeing a Kindle 2 or a new pair of shoes? If you meet your monthly project goals, give yourself a bonus. Note: try to avoid toys that will distract you from your project.

5. Don’t accept stress or exhaustion as an excuse
*FFF: Like avoiding sex, if you play the “tomorrow honey” card for too long, you forget how good it feels and find yourself getting grumpy.

My next project? Updating my blog. Soon we’ll find out if I can learn from my own lessons…
*FFF: Felicia’s Flawed Findings