SXSW Day Three: From Slump to Serendipity


Editor’s note: This is the third article in a series documenting Carl Shultz’s first time attending SXSW. Check back daily to read the rest of the series.

We lost an hour due to daylight saving time- and the energy at SXSW took it like a kick to the gut.

Maybe it was a mix of that and the gray weather, but there was a definite third day slump throughout the festival.  It’s difficult to explain- the buzz was still very much alive if you looked at the group as a whole, but up close, you could see the exhaustion in everyone’s eyes.

A SXSW interactive attendee catching a quick nap.
A SXSW interactive attendee catching a quick nap.

As I meandered through different events that day, I found myself being slowed down by this slump. I stopped to take a break in the Meetup tent- a bar-style lounge set up in the middle of the SXSW trade show.

As I sat with my Shiner and reviewed my notes from the day so far, a man sat next to me on the couch. Breaking one of the main rules of SXSW, I didn’t even look up to say hello; the slump had really gotten to me.

Eventually, however, my eyes wandered and I caught a glimpse of who was sitting next to me. I recognized him from his LinkedIn photo.

No way. That’s Rich MacKinnon.I had contacted MacKinnon about a week ago to set up an interview sometime after SXSW about his festival, BorgfestOf all of the people to sit right next to me….

We ended up sharing a drink and doing the interview right there.

I consider myself lucky, but not special for this encounter. I’ve found that SXSW is full of these serendipitous and mutual beneficial connections.  You just have to look up from your notes and open yourself to them to be able to have the experience- especially when you’re just looking forward to some downtime.


  1. Day 3 was a slump for me too, CJ. It’s why I literally told the people I was talking to at the Meet Up that I needed to break away and collapse onto the very couch you were sitting on. My feet and back needed a break from all that standing and walking across town. I’m glad you recognized me and said hi!

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