I knew it would be fun when someone described the South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive Festival in Austin, TX as "spring break for geeks." They were dead on. There were tweets and Four Square checkins; Facebook status updates and iPhone scans; but most importantly, there were core conversations, keynote addresses (I got to see the CEO of Twitter!), and gobs of panels—I have officially been fully immersed in "geek culture."
Even better than that, about 100 of the 10,000 festival registrants immersed themselves in SWA Culture for an hour as they listened to me talk about "Beyond BBQs: the Future of Corporate Culture." After Spirit Junior (played by Lindsey Reynolds—we’re both in the photo above) "flew" around the room passing out peanuts, I explained to them our Culture in a nutshell is all about our People, and that we ask our Employees to Live the Southwest Way each and every day.
The audience was floored at the amount of Company Pride and LUV all our Employees seem to possess, but, being that the audience was full of self-proclaimed "geeks," they were really interested in learning how we would keep our unique Culture alive, thriving, and growing as we move into the future. It would be an understatement to say they were thrilled to learn about the launch of SWALife Interactive—they couldn’t believe that we would open up the lines of communication the way we are with this new Employee blog and share so much information. It was fun to explain to the group that we work every day to keep our workforce of nearly 35,000 feeling like a family of 100 and that this new interactive site would enable Employees coast to coast to communicate better and more often, and have a major part in this "family reunion."
Throughout the rest of my weekend at SXSW, I met tons of people who were amazed at my title (Team Leader/Planner-Culture Ambassadors), LUV flying Southwest Airlines, and really interested in learning more about our Culture. I got to attend panels on everything from Social Searches to an acting workshop with actor Jeffrey Tambor that was chock-full of business lessons! My badge was also good for the film side of the festival, so I was even able to attend a premiere that one of my friends from high school directed.
But the Southwest LUV didn’t stop there. This was the first year we are the official airline of the SXSW Festival! Our “Bags Fly Free” signs, peanuts, pretzels, gate seating in VIP lounges, and other fun SWA tsotchkes can be seen all over Austin this week representing our well-loved brand. At the Auditorium Shores concerts Friday and Saturday night we had Spirit Juniors frolicking in the fields and a tent set up to pass out snacks and chat with our Customers and Employees. I think it’s safe to say we definitely had a “Southwest Effect” this year at one of the biggest and most innovative festivals around.
I titled this blog SXSWhoa because that is exactly what any first timer (like me) at the event would say—I was overwhelmed, over-stimulated, and overjoyed for four straight days at the wonderful opportunity I had to make new friends, learn new information, and spread the SWA LUV to 10,000 geeks!
This is a shot of me (on left) with some of the girls from Communications!