Sunday, March 11, 2012

Eating and Thinking at SXSW

by Meghann on March 11, 2012

South By Southwest: Day 2 is in the bag!

Rachel and I definitely learned a few things on our second day out (all of which I plan to write about in a final SXSW recap post) – a big improvement from yesterday, but still a whirlwind of a day.

We planned to start our day with some Branding and Marketing panel sessions, but quickly learned that if you want to get to a session (especially one called ‘Hacking YouTube’), then you need to get there 30+ minutes early – not 2 minutes before the start time. Fail.

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The rooms were at capacity and the only thing we could do was wait in line to gain entry.

Good thing I brought snacks.

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When we realized the line for the YouTube session was never going to happen, we switched to a data driven session line that was a bit shorter.  As people started filtering out, we were eventually allowed in.

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The session was a little over my head and basically spoke on how companies take our data and use it as guides for marketing, branding, and other unique and interesting ways (all online based). There were a lot of formulas, data configurations, and references to how other major companies have been successful – and not so successful – with the ever revolving game of predicting what customers will move to next.

I really lucked out after the data driven session because the next one I wanted to see (Rebranding Lego) was next.

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This one was interesting, but not what I was expecting. The session was basically a look back on how Lego avoided bankruptcy in 1998 and 2004 with some innovation. I was expecting it would be more focused on things that Lego has done in the social network space today. However, I always love a good company history lesson.

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After our sessions, Rachel, Eric, and I headed to Wholly Cow Burgers for lunch.

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It was the sign that brought us in – I’m a sucker for cute signs on restaurants.

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It’s a conter service restaurant where you order your burger at the counter, then they bring it to you.

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The wait to get the food was a little longer than we expected – I mean, they were packed – but the wait was worth it.

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The sweet potato fries were hand cut and freshly fried with salt – amazing.

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And the burger came fully loaded with everything (minus the mayo). The meat was extra flavorful and I enjoyed how thin the bun was so I could tasted bites of everything and not just bread.

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We wandered the streets a bit after lunch and spotted the famous Hey Cupcake! food truck on the corner.

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Obviously we had to stop.

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We sat down on the floor of the hotel at our next panel session and had at least half a dozen girls ask us if the cupcakes were Hey Cupcake! or asked where the Hey Cupcake! truck was parked today. People were pretty envious of our find. ;)

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Look at those beauties!

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I ordered the seasonal lemon and – OMG! – this cupcake definitely exceeded expectations. The icing was thick and rich, but not terribly over powering – it complemented the delicious tart and moist cake perfectly.

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After our cupcakes, we headed to our last panel about women in social media (with Lisa Ling!).

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The session was very much ‘girl power!’ but I appreciated that. Sometimes you just need to get a group of women together to realize you’re all going through the same thing (especially in social media). It was very reassuring to hear that all of these very successful women have the same struggles I do and how they’ve learned to rise above them. I’m probably going to write a post oh what this session made me think about in the very near future.

Party time!

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We headed to a Chevy Sponsored tweet-up party after our last session where there were fancy cocktails and free food.

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I didn’t do a great job capturing it, but a lot of things went into making this old fashion with a twist (dried ice? foam? hickory smoke?) Too bad it was cooler to watch him make it than it was to drink it.

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I’m just not a liquor girl and this was straight-up liquor!

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The Shiner Bock was much better.

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The party had a band

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and free food

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But I wasn’t terribly hungry and just grabbed a nibble.

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We ended up hitting up the Foodspotting food truck bazaar for dinner later in the evening.

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I was waiting in line for food when I was handed this.

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Basically, if you download the PayDragon App, you could scan the QR code of what you wanted off of the menu, pay with it on your phone, and pick it up right from the window (no need to wait in line!) .

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It was super easy to use and saved me from waiting in line in the rain.

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Less than 5 minutes later… my food was ready!

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The food truck was an Asian-Mexican fusion. The Szechuan Veggie Tacos were spicy and slightly sour. They were good, but not the best of the three (!) tacos I’ve had in the last three days. Last night’s were better. ;)

The tacos came with a side of fries, which were pretty delicious, but I already had my fry fill at lunch.

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We did a little more exploring and party hopping before calling it a night.

I had a pear. It was exactly what I was craving and then some.

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What a long day – I am exhausted!

Time to crawl into bed and get some sleep.

Good Night!

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