Eric Swayne, Jose Briones  and Brian K. SullivanMiss South by Southwest 2014?  At our March meeting Eric Swayne, Jose Briones and Brian K. Sullivan, who presented sessions at the event, shared their experiences and insights as both attendees and presenters.

Eric Swayne’s presentation at SXSW was entitled “Scientist to Storyteller:  How to Narrate Data.”  Rather than recap his presentation, Eric took us through some observations he made at this year’s event.  “Activation is the new black,” said Swayne.  What does this mean?  Activation is moving a social media fan and follower from attraction and affinity to activity and advocacy.  How did brands accomplish this at SXSW?  Eric referenced the Oreo #EatTheTweet campaign.  Twitter conversation created custom Oreo cookies in a variety of shapes, sizes, colors and flavors in a trending vending machine powered entirely by social media.  Radio Shack delivered batteries to attendees who tweeted that their battery was running low and included the hashtag #LetsDIT.  This campaign is an extension of the brand’s premise that “RadioShack helps consumers find the products they need to connect and@Charmin, @ESwayne #GimmePizza, 7-11 power their lives.”  Swayne even took the action into his presentation by tweeting #GimmePizza to the folks at 7-Eleven.  The payoff for 7-Eleven?  This activation was shared with all those in the session.  “Brands need to learn the currency of attention,” said Swayne, who got some attention of his own from the folks at Charmin :

He wrapped up his presentation by referencing the data visualization at the conference in venues like the FleishmanHilliard Black Box Lounge.  “There was lots of data around, but this year they were bringing data back in a more sexy way,” said Swayne.

Frugal Innovation, Jose BrionesNext, Jose Briones shared with us about Frugal Innovation.  “The hot topics this years were not apps,” said Briones.  Privacy, wearables, 3-D printing and technology topped the list.  “People get enamored by the technology, but that is not always the solution,” said Briones.   At least 80% of humanity lives on less than $10 a day.  How do you provide housing, water, sanitation and refrigeration that these individuals can afford?  Enter Frugal Innovation, design about solutions.  Briones shared home designs made from bags or vegetables and clay that could be produced for under $1000 dollars.  This kind of engineering is about removing non-essential features, while producing products that are functional and meet a need.  Water purification made from clay and silver will filter sediment and kill bacteria.  A clay refrigerator will keep foodstuffs cool for several days without electricity. This will save valuable time that can be invested in family and community.  These products are being developed internationally and Briones is working to create an online portal for global collaboration.

Brian K. Sullivan completed the trio of presentations with his informative and engaging “Produce Like Picasso”.   Pablo Picasso was a consummate artist whose passion drove him to create 147,800 pieces of artwork in his Produce Like Picasso, Brian K. Sullivanlifetime.  His life exemplified the 5 “P’s “of Productivity – Passion, Purpose, Proficiency, Persistence and Partnership.  Even during the Liberation of Paris, with bullets whizzing by his head, street fighting, aerial raids and sniper fire, Picasso moved his art supplies, model and dog to a new location to complete five pieces of art. “Purpose driven design is productive,” said Sullivan, “it is the engine that drives you throughout the day.” Steve Jobs greatly admired Picasso and took to heart his saying, “Good artists copy.  Great artists steal.”  Jobs developed the Apple Finder Icon based on works by Picasso. Both Picasso and Jobs created inspired designs and took great ideas and made them their own.  Picasso’s proficiency came as a result of education, research and practice.  Unlike many creatives, Picasso’s persistence set him apart as an artist.  He established a routine, a process, learned from setbacks, mastered different disciplines and took the long view.  He had 90 sittings with author Gertrude Stein before he was satisfied with his final piece.  Picasso’s different partnerships were critical to his productivity.  In addition to family, mentors, and network, he included his rivals and collaborators as partners.  Sullivan revealed that Picasso’s rivalry with Matisse fueled his productivity.  Ending with the story of Picasso’s piece “Guernica”, Sullivan revealed how the five P’s of Productivity moved Picasso to create and complete this masterpiece in a short 24 days for the Paris World’s Fair as a statement imbued with his passion for the people of Guernica, Spain.

Thank you to Eric Swayne, Jose Briones and Brian K. Sullivan for sharing their presentations and insights with us!  Also, thank you to Jared Ray our photography sponsor, Crisp Salad Company , and Verizon, our annual sponsor.

Kathy F. Catoe

Kathy F. Catoe is the Vice President of KTO Group, LLC, a marketing consultancy specializing in brand and social media strategy. KTO Group also offers its customers Optionz, a consumer incentive reward program.