Sxsw hero
March 21, 2016

How to be an Austin boss: SXSW 2016 Recap

By Stephanie Johnston

In this industry, we all like to think of ourselves as trendsetters, boundary pushers, and thought leaders. So while we admit that Agenda may have come to the SXSW party pretty late (did it really start in 1987?), we like to think that, despite our rookie status, we worked hard, played hard, and owned Austin as best we could. Maybe you were there (why didn’t you tell us? We could have split a pitcher of margaritas!), but maybe you missed the madness, in which case here’s our gift to you: our breakdown of the wins and losses of the whole shenanigans.


1. The Fringe

Whilst a pass or badge can be a big asset, the fringes of SXSW have more than enough to occupy. As long as you’re willing to RSVP to EVERYTHING beforehand (we’re not joking: every-damn-thing!), have a plan B, and be patient, there’s a lot to be said for living on the edge. Talking of which, big shout out to General Assembly for their awesome workshops and Decoded Fashion House for their superb speaker agenda: both were exceptional contributions to our fringe schedule!

2. Keynotes

We salute the likes of Jimmy Wales, Brene Brown, and Andy Puddicomb, whose inspiring keynote events left us on a high, whilst the smaller venues and more tactically named events (“Why we should stop talking about millennials” for example) fell flat in comparison. Kevin Kelly’s run-down of future technologies got us all revved up about Artificial Intelligence and Virtual Reality, while explorations of more somber topics like human trafficking, slavery, and sexual harassment inspired us to work toward change in 2016.

3. Austin Itself

What a city. Just saying. There was a lot to manage, and boy are they up to the task. Sure, East 6th was worth avoiding at times, but discounted taxis were abundant, Airbnbs were plentiful, and it’s just cool without trying too hard. (Crazy thought: If we set up an Agenda office in Austin, would you come?)


1. Name Recognition

So, apparently ”don’t you know who I am?” doesn’t work when you’re part of a crowd of thousands, are late, or haven’t signed up for a popular workshop. Damn, I’ll bet that Behavioral Science by Design workshop was amazing…

2. Our Wardrobe

Who knew the weather (even temperature from day to night) was so unpredictable in Austin? Not us. We were not prepared. Next time we’re going to play the layer game.

3. B-Cycle

Apparently bike share bikes are meant for sharing, not chaining to a tree for 24 hours (my bad!). B-cycle was a convenient way to get around, assuming noobs take time to learn the rules. Late-night rides after networking events were a little treacherous too—but hey, we met people who work at NASA, so it’s totally worth it!

See you there in 2017!? 

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