When I recently returned from South by Southwest Interactive, I couldn’t quite put my finger on why the 20,000-person tech festival fires me up so much.
Sure, there’s a lot going on — compelling speakers, rockin’ parties, huge crowds on the sidewalks. But for a woman who lives in New York, it’s not like I couldn’t access those things any day of the year.
Then I read a post from one of my favorite blogs, Zen Habits. The headline is “Surround yourself with passionate people” and it reads in part:
when you talk with people who are passionate about what they’re doing, passionate about life and the people they love, it is transformative.
The people I talked with last night are incredibly passionate about what they’re doing. And yes, Brett, I mean passionate: excited, fired-up, feeling-strongly-about, thinking-about-it-all-the-time, can’t-wait-to-do-it-when-you-wake-up passion. When you talk with people who are passionate like that, you can’t help but get fired up yourself. You want to go out and do something exciting.
Passionate people not only inspire you, they give you ideas. They read books by other people who are passionate and full of ideas, and they recommend the books to you or pass the ideas on to you.
SXSW is a conference that buzzes all day and all night, and when the bars stop serving margaritas at 2 a.m., there’s a decent chance the people all around are still having intelligent, inspiring conversations. (If perhaps a little more animated.)
I came home from SXSW full of the passion of people who feel what they’re doing has profound potential, whether that’s to transform an industry, to make them a lot of money or to change the world.
Although a very different experience, it’s part of why I’m looking forward to our mini-sabbatical in New Orleans.
Every time we’ve been to NOLA, I’ve been swept up in the passion of the city. It’s in some ways a lowkey, Caribbean-ish place, slow moving and Southern, but it’s also a city of deep passions, especially for music and food.
I am making it one of the goals of my sabbatical to seek out passionate people and pull them closer to me. I want to plug into their inspiration to power my own passion, and hopefully light the way for others, too.