As an entrepreneur it’s important to be forward thinking. One of my main goals was to do mental time travel for the future of thinkspace. That’s hard to do when you’re constantly working inside the business, knee deep in day-to-day activities, and can’t see the forest for the trees.
Get out and travel
Nothing opens up your eyes like travel. Going to a new city, meeting new people, experiencing a different environment, food, music, allows you to see things from a different perspective. You start to see new opportunities that you never knew existed. SXSW is the ultimate cross section between tech, music, and entertainment. There are so many things to taste, touch, feel and ultimately learn.
Mind map your company
While down at SXSW we created a mind map of the company. In the mind map were all the pieces of what the business looks like today. It was great to have a visual representation of the company so when attending one of the thousand different sessions you’re able to take and apply new ideas to specific areas of the company. It’s also a good way to visualize where you are going.
Don’t keep doing the same things over and over
One of my favorite slides came from a presentation by Jeremy Gutsche on Trends for 2015 and a proven path to unstoppable ideas. The slide read, “We repeat whatever led to last year’s harvest.” A lot of times it’s easy to get caught up on doing the same things over and over. We try to create a formula–I personally don’t think that’s the way to get extraordinary results. It seems a bit counterintuitive, but if you want to increase your success you have to double your failure rate. Jeremy also spoke about “3 Traps of a Farmer”: 1) Complacent. 2) Repetitive. 3) Protective. Where as the “3 Hunter Instincts” are: 1) Insatiable. 2) Curious. 3) Willing to Destroy. After thinking about it for a while, there were a couple things that we do in the business today that I was “willing to destroy” and stop doing, despite the fact that one of them will impact future revenue.
Convergence and Divergence
One thing that I really started to see from the SXSW trip was that there are patterns of opportunity right in front of us. Convergence is one thing that I was seeing throughout the entire trip. There’s opportunity for combining two areas that you normally would not see together. That alone is innovation and your competition probably is completely unaware of it. Another area is divergence, where it would be counter culture to do something that your competition would definitely not do. These two things can be major areas of differentiation.
For me, the SXSW trip was invaluable to gain a different perspective. For every leader and visionary, I’ll leave you with this last quote:
I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been. – Wayne Gretzky
I would love to hear from others who have found insight by attending SXSW, or just traveled to gain a different perspective.