Creative Connection

April 21, 2017 /Inspiration /UX/UI Design /

SXSW 2017: digital nomad paradise

With fast WiFi, free food, sunshine, co-working spaces like WeWork, 70,000 people from all over the world, daily craziness around the corner and inspiring talks on every square meter; SXSW is the place to be for digital nomads to meet the most inspiring, well uh, other digital nomads. Welcome to Digital Nomad Paradise.

Top things to do
Pffff. Where do we start? SXSW truly has something for everyone. From small venues with early growth startups to Coldplay worthy stages for the Joe Bidens of this world. There’s something to say for both, but as digital nomads we advise to choose quality over quantity. Similar to traveling in another country, you can’t see every highlight. So you better make sure you see the coolest. All the big stuff takes place in the Austin Convention Center. Tip 1: always come early or hustle your way into the line. The latter is at your own risk though. So, let’s take a look at our four most memorable experiences this year and our key takeaways.

Casey Neistat
If you say Content Creator, you say Casey Neistat. This guy has managed to get over 1.3 billion views and is a true superstar. One could easily call him the biggest hit YouTube has ever produced. He took us on a personal journey about his evolution from filmmaker to YouTuber and Tech Entrepreneur to co-founding a whole new company with CNN Worldwide.

Here are a few lessons to be learned:

On dreams
“Do what you can’t.”

On content and filmmakers
“The haters are the Titanic and we are the fucking ice-berg.”

On the way to success
“Taking chances was the best way to find success.”

Gary Vaynerchuk
Last year we kicked off SXSW with this serial entrepreneur and this year again. Why? Because he is the biggest hustler in the game today. And if there’s one thing an entrepreneurial nomad should learn; it is to hustle hard. Gary is a digital marketing pioneer and early investor in Twitter, Snapchat and Uber. In a packed room, Gary fired sharp answers during an hour-long Q&A and addressed topics such as tech trends, passion, entrepreneurial mind-set and the ever-evolving ad industry.

What we brought back home in our backpacks:

On mindset
“Always stay on the offence of positivity.”

On failure
“Failure is the cost of entry to the game.”

On technology
“I’m not Nostradamus. So many people are trying to figure out what the next Snapchat is, but it’s not about me knowing. It’s about looking at behaviour and playing with things.”

Tomas Krcha
On Friday Tom Krcha, Senior Product Manager at Adobe, took us behind the scenes of making Adobe Experience Design CC (Adobe XD). For the non-techies amongst us; Adobe XD (beta) is the first all-in-one cross-platform tool for designing and prototyping websites and mobile apps. You can imagine, the perfect tool for the Digital Nomad that wants to collaborate with people from all over the world while traveling. Tom is one of the earliest creators and vividly shared the product principles that serve as the foundation for Adobe XD and how they guide the team’s thinking for the near term and the future. It was great to see that leading brands such as Adobe are designing products and services around the nomadic lifestyle. After all, with tools like these, work is no longer a place, as it can happen from any space, any place, anytime, anywhere. Here are some cool product insider’s thoughts:

On collaboration
“It’s about removing the barrier between you and other people. And letting your ideas and vision flow.”

On today’s challenges
“Today designers are more and more challenged with how things behave, how they interact, how the move around, how they feel.”

On the future of design
“We want to let people design at the speed of thought. Designs should be everywhere with you, so you can review them at any time and share with other people.”

Nile Rodgers
1978 – “Le Freak” by Chic. 2013 – “Get Lucky” by Daft Punk. 1979 – “Good Times” by Chic. 1984 – “Like A Virgin” by Madonna. 1979 – “We Are Family” by Sister Sledge. 1983 – “Let’s Dance” by David Bowie. 1984. All produced or composed by music legend Nile Rodgers. As true nomads, we believe that the best thing about working while traveling the world, is not the places you see but the amazing people you meet along the way. And man, Nile Rodgers has met some icons on his life journey so far. Through multiple personal life stories, he explained how he sees his life and career in music as a collection of chance encounters.

The priceless kicker to his super inspiring keynote was the brief chat we had with him backstage in the JW Marriott hotel afterwards. We asked him; what if you could have dinner with three people tonight, dead or alive, who would they be? His answer: David Bowie, Jimi Hendrix and Miles Davis. What a legend. Here are some takeaways that sparked our imagination.

On a great composition
“It speaks to the souls of a million strangers”

On David Bowie
“David was the greatest opportunity of my life, because I had five flops in a row. It was a person who had total faith in me, and that faith and trust was amazing because everybody else was saying that Disco sucks.”

On collaboration
“I think music is the voice I speak with. When I work with you, I work to amplify your voice.”


Insights & Learnings from Digital Nomads at SXSW 2017
The annual SXSW Conference brings amazing digital nomads together from all over the world. From startup founders and upcoming artists, to world famous CEOs and everything in between. For one week in March, Austin becomes the perfect breeding ground for building new relationships and networking at light speed. During our visit this year we asked some international creative professionals, who have embraced the nomadic lifestyle, about what it takes to become the ultimate digital nomad. Listen and learn:

Nik Nieuwenhuis, CEO/Co-founder Code D’azur


Eric Webb,

 Jen Du, Founder + CEO Before Elixer

Anoop Kansupada, Co-founder The Founders Organization


Everybody at the Festival has an inspiring story to tell. You don’t have to work really hard to end up in an insightful conversation. We sat down with some cool European and US based digital nomads and enjoyed a cold brewskie together in the Texan sun. What followed were some interesting chats about breaking the 9-5 routine, memorable work/travel experiences from the road and what gets their creative juices flowing. Here’s what they had to say:

Adriaan Trouwee, Strategy Partner

What’s your advice for people who want to break the 9-5 routine and work abroad?
Start with a change of scenery and book a trip to work from abroad. Time-difference will increase your effectivity to 4h a day. Giving you more time to think and be inspired, making you a richer person.

What’s the coolest work/travel experience you’ve had in the past year?
A recent trip to Singapore, Bangkok, Thai islands, Malay islands and Kuala Lumpur.

How do you get your creative juices flowing?
A change of scenery. This shift in perspective increases the number of unknowns, allowing your creative juices to flow in new directions.

Lisbeth Chawes, Director of Marketing & Partners, Komfo

What’s your advice for people who want to break the 9-5 routine and work abroad?
Quit your job and become a freelancer. The World is Full of Opportunities — You Just Need to Know Where to Look.

What’s the coolest work/travel experience you’ve had in the past year?
SXSW in Austin. It’s my third year attending – and it’s just getting better and better.

How do you get your creative juices flowing?
Traveling, network, events and from my 2 children.

Thijs Biersteker, a designer and artist working on the edges of innovation and communication.

What’s your advice for people who want to break the 9-5 routine and work abroad?
Do what you love and 9-5 turns into 6am-11pm, and you will love it. When you spend so many hours on that thing you love, it gets good and people around the world will think it’s great and offer you change to come over to do that thing you love.

What’s the coolest work/travel experience you’ve had in the past year?
My coolest experience begins before breakfast. When I arrive in a new city for work, I wake up really early, get out and Pick a random person or 3 to follow their morning routines to work commuting the city. I take random subways, busses and end up in the most wonderful places. When work starts, I take a cab back.

How do you get your creative juices flowing?
I contextualise my work with as many situations as possible and then strip it down to the most interesting one. And then start again and again.

We hope that you’ve learned something from their stories or at least got inspired to check SXSW out for yourself next year. If you attended the festival as well, please share your hacks and insights in the comments, so we can all learn and grow. See y’all in Texas at SXSW 2018.

Inspiration, UX/UI Design

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