LESSONS FROM SXSW: ARE YOU TAKING A RISK?

/// KENDI FROM KENDIEVERYDAY AT TEXAS STYLE COUNCIL

My final post in our little “Lessons from SXSW” series was inspired by the keynote speaker of the Texas Style Council Conference last Sunday, Kendi from Kendi Everyday.

But first, a confession.

I didn’t know what to expect from the Texas Style Council Conference, since I am not, after all, a style blogger.  I’ve done exactly one style post on my blog, and it took so long to set up my camera … take my picture … come back inside and pick out the two out of a thousand that actually looked good, that I quickly decided: “eh, guess I won’t be outfit posting after all.”  BUT I have enormous respect for style bloggers, and even though the means with which we express ourselves creatively are different, I’ve always felt a sense of connection to the community.  I moderated the “Think Local, Go National” panel with Camille Styles (my panel spouse), Matt Swinney, Charmie Stryker, and Jessie Artigue on Sunday, and got there a little early so I could find Indiana (the organizer), hug her, meet some folks, etc.  And you know what?  I was incredibly inspired!  So many entrepreneurial women in one place, who effectively turned their blogs into businesses, and were straight-up networking ninjas. Because let’s face it: Style bloggers got the freaking memo about collaboration.  I, solitary sandbox player only child that I am, am still learning how to be a better collaborator on this blog.

But enough about meeeee … onto Kendi.

Kendi’s style blog is one of the few that I read on a regular basis, because girlfriend is so quippy and funny.  Her keynote speech was just as witty, but also peppered with some truly moving bits of wisdom that laid the foundation for her newly-opened boutique, Bloom.  She talked about playing “store” as a little kid, by tearing off bits of paper and sticking them to the clothes in her closet, then making her mom come “shop.”  Don’t you want to hug this person?  I did.  (No, really.  I hugged her.  In the auditorium aisle.  Which could have been awkward were it not for the fact that Kendi is just so darn gracious.)

Anyway, there were so many gems in Kendi’s speech that I wrote down, but here is the one that’s stuck with me all this week:

“Are you taking a risk?”

Kendi took a giant one by quitting her day job, deciding to focus only on her blog (and eventually her boutique).  She said (and I might be misquoting a bit), “I learned that when I jump, I will land on my feet.”  Here’s the reason that resonated with me so much.

At the beginning of this year, I decided to do something a little nuts.  As my friends and I were launching AETV, I really wanted to learn about broadcast journalism from behind the camera.  So I approached our local NPR affiliate, KUT, and asked if I could intern there.  Yes, I am almost 30.  Yes, I still have my day job.  But!  I’ve been an obsessive NPR dork for most of my adult life, have always wanted to intern there, and figured it was now or never.  When KUT’s news director said yes, I could intern, I nearly cartwheeled out of the office.

Stay hungry, stay foolish

Word up, Steve Jobs. Kendi also referenced this quote in her speech, and 30-year-old interning me had to chuckle a bit.  Because it is a little foolish!  To intern and to keep your day job.  But whatever.  Sappy as it sounds, I get a little buzz each time I walk through the doors at KUT.  I reported, produced, and edited my very first piece this week, which will go on the air today!  So does Bruce Springsteen, who’s giving a SXSW keynote that’s being streamed on KUT … but he’s not too much competition, right?  Right guys??

/// Ruby

Here’s a photo I took while out in the area where the story takes place.  This woman’s name is Ruby, and she lives near 12th and Chicon in east Austin.  My story is about a pilot workforce program the city is launching targeted at residents in that area, to give them job, resume, and entrepreneurial training.  It’s a rough part of town, and law enforcement has only been a temporary solution, so now the city wants to see if 12th Street can put people to work and make it part of a more organic, long-term solution for cleaning it up.

Anyway, Ruby and I had a little chat while I was out there taking pictures, and she asked me if I was from MTV.  She also asked how my parents came up with my crazy name.  I’m taking both as compliments.

UPDATE: Yay!  My story is archived online.  Here it is.