I find myself in Austin at the South by South West Interactive festival for the 9th year in a row. I’m spending five days absorbed in keynotes and workshops – seeing some of my favourite leaders speak and discovering brilliant minds I’ve not come across before.
I don’t know how many people are attending – maybe 15,000, maybe 30,000. It does’t really matter to me. This experience is for me, and it’s one that I savour every year.
I’ve travelled a long way. I’ve spent good money. I’m about to spend my very good time. And yet spending time here is one of the best investments I make in my business every year.
I’ve used my SXSW app to ‘star’ (meaning to bookmark) more sessions than I can fit in a year – so each couple of hours becomes a process of reprioritising how I spend my time next.
Yesterday started with a really big headline speaker. The sitting president of the United States of America, Barrack Obama. That is all. A few thousand of us were lucky enough to get a ticket to see him up close in the theatre he was speaking, while the presentation was beamed to the rest of the delegates.
He was, as expected, charming, thoughtful, funny, impeccably dressed and while I’ve heard him speak on television many times, to hear his voice through the speakers just above my head, quite magical.
This morning I sat in a room just metres away from Gretchen Rubin, author of Better Than Before, hearing her speak about Habits.
I’ve seen many big names here – inventors, authors, political rebels, outcasts, heads of the biggest tech companies on the planet, athletes, actors. I’ve also uncovered hundreds of experts at the time unknown to me – humans who are having profound conversations about subjects they are passionate about.
Each year has looked different – some years I’ve rushed from session to session, recording sessions, making copious notes.
Other years I’ve hung out in the Blogger’s lounge, staying away from the crowds and catching up on a little work. Most years, I do a little of both.
And it’s not an easy time. I get fatigued, I get overwhelmed. I get behind on my usual projects.
Most of all, though, I get filled – with inspiration, motivation, new ideas, memories.
My time. Well spent.
What about you? Where do you feel best spending your time?