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SXSW Wrap-Up: Top Speakers

SXSW Wrap-Up: Top Speakers

Posted on Apr 01, 2015 by

SXSW 2015 came and went with a bang, per usual. We had a great time checking out Interactive panels and keynotes, some films, and great bands in the sun (and a lot of rain). To wrap it up, we are running two blogs: a previous one on awards and then this one on top speakers. There were over 600 sessions at SXSW Interactive – the majority of the sessions were picked via users on the SXSW PanelPicker, with more than 3,000 ideas entered. Needless to say, it was very hard to choose the top speakers. Before SXSW, we ran our top 5 speakers to see – now we have our top 5 speakers that we saw.

The Speakers

Gary Vaynerchuk and Jack Welch (moderated by Suzy Welch)

Gary Vaynerchuk (CEO of VaynerMedia) and Jack Welch (former CEO of GE) held a Q&A session on today’s business landscape. Right off the bat, the two touched on being an entrepreneur in today’s business world, stating that you have to have a unique, valuable idea. The two explained that growing a business means hiring the right people – your boss should want you to succeed. Welch stated, “It’s also important to deliver what you say. Credibility is key to you all of your life.”

jack welch, gary

Charles Barkley (NBC Studio Analyst for Inside the NBA)

One of the biggest names in sports – without a doubt – is Charles Barkley. He is currently the NBC Studio Analyst for Inside the NBA, and he talked about how to remain relevant in today’s digital age. He said that people still watch him on TV because he has a big personality, which is why people still watch him even though they can tune in to digital information instead. Even more interestingly, he said that to be relevant in this age means to still speak your mind – without talking on social media. He is not anti-technology, but he is not on any social media.


Dana White, Ronda Rousey & Jessica Eye (UFC)

These are three of the top names in UFC today. Dana White is the UFC President; Ronda Rousey is the UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion; and Jessica Eye is a fantastic fighter. The trio touched on how much the UFC world has changed since 2012 when White announced Rousey as the first female champion. Now, women have headlined top events and even had an all-female cast on The Ultimate Fighter. Rousey proudly stated, “I think that women fighting in the octagon really affects everything that women see is possible for themselves.”


Eric Ries (author of The Lean Startup)

One of the most popular books for entrepreneurs in the last few years is Eric Ries’ The Lean Startup. The keynote speaker touched on everything he has learned since 2011, with two very interesting takeaways. First was his view that entrepreneurship should be a function, with team members working on entrepreneurship, just as they work on marketing. Second, he believes that workers should not multitask, saying it doesn’t make sense and is unproductive.


Princess Reema (interviewed by Bob Safian – Editor at Fast Company)

Princess Reema Bint Bandar Al-Saud is the CEO of Saudi Arabian luxury retailer Alfa, Intl. She is an incredibly influential part of the women’s rights movement in Saudi Arabia, having employed over a hundred women. Her interview focused on the hardships that women face in her country. She feels it is her mission to help women achieve opportunities. “If you stand still, your opposition has the power to knock you down, if you keep walking, they have to follow you,” she said. “I’d rather keep walking.”

princess, fast co

If you missed these speakers or any others, check around online for full recaps and even videos of the conferences, keynotes, and interviews. Our team at HMG had a great time out at SXSW this year, and now we wait until next year!

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