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SXSW 2016: Sessions for The Creative Executive

Overwhelmed by the agenda at this year’s SXSW? Since we’re all about cultivating creative leadership at The Creative Executive, we’ll help you narrow it down.

For starters, the keynote talks for this year’s conference are pretty awesome. On Friday, March 11, you’ve got Casey Gerald, the founder of MBAs Across America, talking about inspiration and purpose. Get a taste of Casey Gerald’s inspiring message on CreativeMornings podcast. The irreplaceable Brene Brown, the author of Daring Greatly and Rising Strong, will speak on Saturday, March 12; and CEO and Founder of Headspace, Andy Puddicombe, will discuss happiness, hope, and fear on Tuesday, March 15.

The keynotes are a no-brainer, but what to do about the remaining agenda?

Not-to-miss SXSW 2016 sessions - The Creative Execution

First, a plug for some talented Austin makers, creators, and pioneers!

Good Advice: Fortune Cookies Don’t Have to Crumble |  Kate Neiderhoffer, Soothspace

We’re quick to call things “good advice” – things that are unexpected, that make us feel good, that we want to hear. We go to great lengths to find it: we seek out friends, people who have been in the same boat, experts, advice columnists, fortune tellers, fortune cookies. Is there such a thing as good advice? We discuss the psychology of advice and whether there is any rhyme, reason, or science that predicts what’s “good.” We’ll present data from a mobile advice platform colored with the practical experience of an expert advice columnist. Learn three tips to give and get better advice and hear how scientific ideas get integrated into products and pop culture.”

Talk About Time: Why We Fail at Work-Life Balance |  Dawna Ballard, University of Texas 

“Anyone truly concerned about the wellness of employees, colleagues or oneself must stop talking about work-life balance and refocus on time. Don’t get me wrong: The work-life conversation has raised important issues around time and work and it offers a language that signals our concerns. However, it is the wrong language because it more deeply masks already hidden aspects of culture. Instead, talking plainly about time—and research on chronemics (time as it is bound to human communication)—gets to the heart of overwork and our general quality of life. Because time is a silent language, the goal of this panel is to begin to develop chronemic literacy in our personal and professional lives.”

Mentor Session: Branding + Marketing | Brian Thompson, Golfsmith

“Brian Thompson believes meaningful brands are built one letter at a time. He’s been delivering powerful messages for over ten years across media including social, online, broadcast, and print. He’s done so for start-ups and Fortune 500 companies at ad agencies both large and small.”

Make time for these sessions spanning creativity, advertising, science, career, and culture:

Problem-Solvers: The Future of Sports, from the Future Generation  |  Dave Mingey, President of GlideSlope

“You’ll never forget your earliest experience at a sporting event. That’s because sport’s powerful emotional undercurrents are established so early in life. So why is the industry not trying harder to understand what kids really want? GlideSlope will host a panel of only the voices that matter most – the kids. Featuring kids age 7-13 who are active in sport and moderated by a dynamic, high profile sports personality, the panel seeks to uncover truths that may not be evident to parents, policy makers or brands but are blindingly obvious to kids. Through fun and humorous “kids only” conversation, we will inform and inspire decision-makers with insights that can be leveraged to drive impact.”

DNA.Land: Mapping the World’s Family Tree | AJ Jacobs & Janiv Erlich

“Humanity is all one big family. In this session, we will present our effort to construct the world’s family tree using crowd source genealogy of millions of people in collaboration with Geni.com. We will describe at the first part of the session how this family tree informs personal stories on our heritage, uniqueness, and connection with other people. In the second part, we talk about the world’s family tree addresses scientific questions regarding longevity, migration events, and the anthropology of marriages.” 

Five Counterintuitive Truths About HabitsGretchen Rubin, The Happiness Project

“Want to change a habit? Rubin reveals the most significant thing you need to know, to change your habits. She explores 5 counter-intuitive truths about habits (as well as the habit that people most often mention, as one that changed their life for the better). If you’ve ever run a marathon and then stopped running, or spent hours playing on your phone when you wanted to work, or fought with your sweetheart about buying ice cream, or wondered why you never miss work deadlines but can’t complete your own projects, you’ll learn why. Habits are the invisible architecture of everyday life; when we master our habits, we can become healthier, more productive, and happier.” 

If You Are In Advertising, You May Be A Racist | Panel

“The target audience is a 35–45-year-old white male” or “the target is a 28-year-old Hispanic woman.” You know this brief or something like it. You know how to use creative to speak to that exact person and media tools to pinpoint that person’s every move. What you don’t know is that you may be contributing to the racial divide in America. From Ferguson to Baltimore to Charleston, the list goes on and on this year of instances when race has caused us to break down as a society. And while advertising cannot heal all, we pose the question: Can advertising start a conversation, and then start a movement that breaks down the race barriers instead of propagating them through hypertargeting?”

Understanding Average: The Inertia of Culture  |  Maggie Gross, Havas Worldwide

“Average is a pretty polarizing word. We’d all be ecstatic if the average person was aware of our creative work, but royally pissed if our work was called “average.”But average doesn’t have to mean mediocre. It can define something far more powerful: mass behavior. The inertia of culture. I believe a better understanding of this inertia can inspire creativity that pushes boundaries AND achieves scale. So I created ‘Understanding Average,’ a research series that explores how average Americans are impacted by cultural phenomena – from hashtags to superfoods. I’ll share the most compelling research results, and discuss their implications for strategy and creativity with the audience.”

Breakdown to Brilliance: Honoring Insanity | Ryan Sheehy

For the first time publicly, Ryan Sheehy will reveal how she overcame a lifelong battle with bipolar disorder. The accredited PR practitioner will debunk the infamous “perception is reality” mantra and discuss the dynamics that triggered the unraveling of her false self. Sheehy will reflect on how, in her most vulnerable state, she felt duped by society, dumbfounded by cultural norms and found a better way out. Claiming a demoralizing label that caused much pain, Sheehy will address how self-deception inspired the evolution of her personal brand. Knowing now that the experience is a beloved asset, Sheehy will encourage others to breakdown to brilliance and honor insanity for a greater good.”

The Bossless Company: How Zappos and Medium Work |  Panel

What’s it like to work for a company with no bosses? Is it utopia or chaos, or a little of both? Zappos and Medium have adopted Holacracy, a management philosophy in which workers manage themselves, rather than have a boss tell them what to do. Workers from Zappos and Medium will tell you how they have dispensed with bosses and the challenges they have faced along the way.”

Fuck No. Shit Yeah. Damn Right? | Michael Nieling, Ocupop

Let’s talk about mistakes and self-doubt, conflict and stress. Let’s talk about failure—let’s laugh at it and capitalize on it. Following the hugely popular Fuck No and Shit Yeah talks, Damn Right reveals the intimate details of all the missteps and miscalculations along the road to success. Honest and unfiltered, Michael dissects the good, the bad and the WTF in every (questionable) decision we make. A candid perspective offered by the Creative Director behind some of the most influential logos, campaigns, and UX of the past 15 years, Damn Right peels back the confidence of Fuck No and the optimism of Shit Yeah to lay bare the doubt we all face—and kicks that motherfucker in the teeth.”

Org Design: Leadership for a Creative Culture |  Stanford d.school

As technology continues to change the way we interact, we can learn from digital social behavior how to design creative organizations. This is the foundation of the Stanford d.school fellowship program, which helps restless experts enable emergent ways of working, to accelerate systems-level impact in their areas of expertise. The nature of leadership is evolving from hierarchical models to emergent ones. In the former, leaders set a vision, assemble a team and direct it toward a predetermined outcome. Here, session attendees will learn to be emergent leaders, to bring together diverse experts and help them find the spaces between their expertise — where unimagined outcomes come to life.” #orgdesign

How Abundance Thinking Can Change Your Career |  Amanda Enayati + Homa Tavangar, Authors

“It is said that the future belongs to creators and empathizers, but many would-be innovators are failing to thrive as they struggle to find a purpose-driven, sustainable and lucrative career path in a rapidly shifting world of work. This is often due to a scarcity mindset that can taint our analyses and decision-making, and thwart success and happiness. ABUNDANCE THINKING is a comprehensive and scientifically validated model designed to help creatives flourish as their work continues to evolve, to systematically identify areas of opportunity and to make successful pivots to embrace new paths and ventures.” #abundance

How to Ask for Money: Know Your Worth, Get Paid | Panel

“Women make .77 for every $1 made by their male counterparts. The pay gap is even greater for African-American and Latina women. That’s a fact. So how do women advocate and ask for money? How does one negotiate a raise? Seek out investors…especially when it may feel uncomfortable or downright unsafe to ask? ELLE.com editor Leah Chernikoff will lead a panel with co-founder of Indiegogo Danae Ringelmann, founder of Julep Cosmetics Jane Park and founder of Black Girls Code Kimberly Bryant, on the challenges women face today in asking for more money in their careers and businesses and offer up solutions to advocate for more equal pay.” #ask4more

Go forth, Creative Executive, you are ready to conquer SXSW 2016.

View the entire SXSW agenda.

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*Images & session descriptions from SXSW.com

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