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Nine Months: Unfiltered.

There is a lot that can happen in nine months. You can grow a real, live, human being in your belly. Appear on and be voted off of American Idol. Take a cooking class. Begin ninja apprenticeship. Train for a marathon. Write a novel. (Thank you Alan for contributing to my list of things you can accomplish in nine months. You, sir, are a genius) You could also discover a dream you didn’t know you had, plan it, start to live it out, and achieve one of the biggest goals you’ve ever set for yourself.

I’ve only done the last one in the past 9 months, for the record.

The dream nine months ago? Go to SXSW. Make an impression. Go home with contacts that could be future employers. Check, check and check.

When I got to SXSW I was at peace, knowing that I had found my happy place. Not only is Austin is a great city, but during SXSW, it’s also chock-full of people who get giddy over iPhone apps and blogging and social media in general and karaoke and gadgets and beer and conversations and CONVERSATIONS OVER BEERS. Oh, and I had that overall sense of finding myself.

I also swore to myself that I would speak there someday.

Seriously, when I walked into the convention center in March and thought to myself, “I want to be a part of this”, the end of that sentence was “someday”. Someday I wanted to. When I walked into the convention center that day I had no idea what was in store for me. I was still in college, feeling out what my future would hold. How I pictured my future was this fuzzy image, where I knew there was something out there, my calling, what have you, but I just couldn’t see it yet. I didn’t even know what I wanted to do, really, I just knew I wanted it to be great.

Then the picture got a little clearer on Sunday when I went to Daniel’s panel about “Old Media, New Tricks”. What he was saying MADE SENSE. I could relate to it. I heard Robert (Rob? Robert? What do you prefer?) mention that Daniel was 24. HE WAS MY AGE FOR CRYING OUT LOUD. If he could make a difference, I could too, age wasn’t an issue. I just needed to find my footing. And then start sprinting.

After Daniel’s panel, the image that is my future became a little clearer yet again when I met Adam. Slowly but surely he started introducing me to everyone who was anyone at SXSW that I needed to know. I was absolutely blown away to have a perfect stranger taking such an interest in the crazy ideas that were floating around in my head. I’ve said it before, but it deserves repeating, that particular Sunday in Austin was a turning point in my life, professionally and personally.

So the story goes (which I’ve told a thousand times before), I go home, accept an internship, start planning my move to Chicago and nine months later, here I am. Happily employed at what is easily my dream job, working with people who are absolutely fantastic at what they do and have an interest in helping me grow as a professional and as a person. I’m living in a city that never ceases to amaze me, and has grown enough on me to call “home” without even realizing I’m doing it. I’m meeting people that take my breath away because they think the way that I do and enjoy life just as much, if not more so.

And that little part of my dream, that item on my list, that little professional gold star is HAPPENING. NEXT YEAR. OH EM GEE.

I’m super-pumped for the opportunity to speak at SXSW Interactive 2010 with Elysa Rice, Ben Smithee, Ryan Paugh and Nisha Chittal, all of whom I met in Austin last year. Our panel will be touching on Gen-Y in the workplace, the brilliance that is “with” vs. “for”, and how we’re diving in to social media, amongst other things. You can read more about it here.

Nine months. Can seem like an eternity – but sometimes it flies by.

In honor of a game that Mari likes to play when you don’t know somebody, (I’m putting a twist on it) – what have you accomplished in the last nine months?

You have this opportunity to brag about yourself – with no judgment. What is your greatest accomplishment in the past nine months and what do you hope to accomplish in the next nine months?

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