How To Hack into Moderating a SXSW Panel

by Larry Chiang on December 11, 2009

Larry Chiang studies conferences and how people are selected to speak. Last month, Harvard Business School’s, Harbus, featured him in a cover story, What They Don’t Teach You At Stanford Business School“. If you liked 9 Things They Don’t Teach You at Stanford Business School, Cut and Paste Other People’s Work and How to Close a Deal Via Voicemail, you’ll love this post: “How To Hack into Moderating a SXSW Panel”.

Giselle at Yoga Source recommends setting an intention for your practice…

Giselle on the cover recommends dedicating your practice to someone.

By Larry Chiang

Moderating a SXSW panel can catapult your career in the tech/film/music community. The problem is that it is competitive. Uber competitive.

Run for Office Right After You Get Elected.

In the US, Congress is a such a short two-year term that once you get elected, you pretty much start campaigning for re-election. SXSW is the same way. Once you get a panel, start lobbying for next year’s panel.

The 2010 SXSW selection process opens June 1st.

Stand on the Shoulders of a Giant.

Guy Kawasaki writes great stuff. I took one of his blog posts and took advantage of the fact that it was a great great concept. I cut and pasted, “Plan B for Fundraising”. Sure I cited and sourced him from the moderator position, but people lauded me with the credit of standing on the shoulders of a giant.

Promote Someone Else First
My yoga teacher at the beginning of class has us do two things. Set an intention for the practice and dedicate the practice. I promote someone else first by dedicating my panel to them.

For example, I got a book deal. Is it because the last book sold HUNDREDS of copies?! No. It was because I dedicate my book to honor my mentors book.

Tipping the Value Proposition.
SXSW isn’t cheap.
The cost has been blogged about here and here.
I had the outlandish goals
(1) to provide enough value at my one panel as the entire cost of SXSW
(2) Get 20 questions in a 60 min session.
(3) crash a panelist in from the audience.

Your panel is more likely to get picked if there is clear value in your session.

Build Karma Points.
Host a party to promote other people’s panels in your city. I dip into my treasure and promote someone else’s panel that I like. I think that Karma can be tracked measured and channeled.

For example, I hosted two parties. A panel picker party and a panel picker closing party. At both events I promoted other peoples panel and showcased my panelists as special guests. This brings me to my very important point…

Get a Celeb on Your Panel
Do you wanna hear a Larry Chiang pontificate (yawn) or do you wanna hear the founder of PayPal talk about venture funding?! Get a celeb to attach.

In the same way that crappy scripts get more attention with actors attached, your panel gets more play if you ‘invite’ celebs. Marking “Seth Rogen (invited)” on your “Making Sequels to Movies You Didn’t Make” panel might be a BIG stretch, but having me on that panel might be good 😉

I had a celebrity, Cathy Brooks, introduce me before I introduced the panelists. I don’t know if that’s ever been done before. I meant for this to be about reciprocating, but I guess from Cathy Brooks I just take and say thank you. Thank you Cathy. Oh and she also helped me get Nokia as a sponsor so thank you again. Btw, she’s an advisory committee member to SXSW, so that means you do salute her when she walks into a party.

Blog about your panel.
I’m not even going to mention my panel for 2010, “Plan C for Fundraising”. Yeah its a sequel to “Plan B for Fundraising”. If you email me what you’ve done to get a SXSW panel, I may include you in a follow-up post.

Stay tuned. I am taking you behind the scenes when I cover (and crash) Sundance. I’ll cover the four mistakes of actors turned directors and maybe host a Sundance after party.

If you liked this, you may also check:

Larry is writing a sequel to a book he did not write. It comes out 09-09-09. It is called ‘What They Don’t Teach You At Stanford Business School‘.


Larry’s book releases 09-09-09

This post was cranked out in about an hour so email me if you see a spelling or grammatical error(s)… larry@larrychiang com

Larry Chiang is the founder of Deep Underground Credit Knowledge 9 (Duck9). He hacked Fair Isaac’s FICO credit algorithm and battles lies told by the credit industry such as Fair Isaac’s claim that the average FICO is 720. The real average is 535.

Text or call him during office hours 11:11am or 11:11pm PST +/-11 minutes at 650-283-8008. If you email him, be sure to include your cell number in the subject line.

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