One of the most exciting aspects of attending SXSW is that it attracts an interesting, eclectic crowd. Of course, not all interesting people are created equal – and I am a connoisseur 🙂 I’ve started to think of them as “my tribe”.
Almost all of my friendships were an act of serendipity – and generally include a good narrative. Meeting V was no different 🙂
I felt like a voyeur at SXSW. Most people come with an agenda, especially for the interactive conference. But I was just there to soak up the atmosphere and celebrate my birthday so every day was a random walk. I looked for catalysts or recommendations to inspire the day’s plan.
The easiest day to plan was when my new friend Quin was pitching his business idea in the Startup Village at the Hilton. I wanted to make sure I had a seat for his presentation so sat through 8 pitches from young entrepreneurs. Fascinating – and they are so impressive!
I had an entertaining time with the angel investor sitting beside me and got a better idea what professional investors are looking for. You can check out Quin and his revolutionary new footwear technology at the plantiga website:
He was busy being courted by venture capitalists and meeting basketball players so I didn’t get to hang out with him in Austin but going to watch him was how I met V and had one of the most memorable evenings of my life.
It might never have happened had it not been pouring rain at the end of the seminars. We decided to hide inside and have a drink hoping for the rain to stop. The rain never stopped but, without it, V and I might have just gone our separate ways and the fascinating conversation would never have happened.
It’s not often you meet someone who totally gets it when you describe the Ngorongoro Crater as “the Disney version of the Serengeti”. Someone who encourages you to be an intellectual snob.
SXSW is a haven for snobs like me. I grew up in a trailer park so I’m never snobby about things you can’t control about your past. But I am a bit snobby about how you live your future. Whether you try. Whether you have the confidence to learn things and develop your own opinions.
I am snobby about whether you are a VIP – but likely not the way you might suspect. V doesn’t even know yet but he was the inspiration for my repurposing of that term. It came about because we went to an event that night that we thought was a comedy performance by Seth Myers, but instead was Seth showing up and standing behind a velvet rope with the other VIPs while the proletariat stood on the other side of the rope and took photos with Seth when he came close to the Berlin Wall divide.
Seth seemed like a nice guy and I doubt most people there thought much about it but V and I wondered just what separated the people on either side of the rope… and which side likely had the more interesting people…
I am fascinated by the concept of celebrity, especially in these days when it seems almost anyone can get 15 minutes of fame, especially if you are willing to let cameras invade your privacy or act like a moron.
I’m certainly interested in meeting people whose accomplishments I admire. I recently came across the reply to a fan letter I wrote to Robertson Davies as a teenager. His reply was fascinating and insightful (it will get into the blog at some point). I would be thrilled to meet Jon Stewart because he is so damn smart and really tries to engage people and get them to care about important things. He is one of my heroes.
But most of my heroes are not famous. I have zero interest in meeting most of the people the world currently seems to consider VIPs… which gets us to the redefinition V has inspired. I AM interested in VIPs… the difference is that my VIPs are VERY INTERESTING PEOPLE. I would encourage you to seek them out. They are the one that may not rock – but they WILL rock your world. Thanks, V 🙂