Connecting with purpose at SXSW Austin, Texas March 2024

Danny King

The following should not be considered legal advice and is for general use only.

By Danny King and Sonia Chandra

In what feels like a forever ago, we were fortunate to get the opportunity and time to attend South by Southwest (SXSW) event in Austin, Texas. For those who are not aware of SXSW, it is a global conference for professionals that’s become an iconic event since its founding in 1987, and features insights into tech, film, music, education and culture.

All three partners at DKL pride ourselves as being leaders of an inclusive, progressive and purpose-driven organisation – more than just a leading employment law firm. Attending SXSW was our opportunity to learn on how we can innovate this space and also make strong connections and attend impactful and passionate presentations.

We share a couple of memorable moments and key insights from our fun attendance at SXSW.

Visibility, vulnerability and belonging

A highlight for both of us was a panel discussion entitled ‘Modern Managers: The Performance Coaches of the Workplace.

Hosted by Didier Elzinga, CEO and Co-founder of Culture Amp (a business founded in Melbourne), it featured a discussion on how to achieve and sustain a high-performance culture by drawing upon lessons learned from the world of high-performance sports. But it wasn’t really just about sport.

It was a deep dive into this uncertain world we live in and the need for managers and leaders to focus on employee mental wellbeing, diversity inclusion, and how to show up in this environment.

Didier commented on the importance of visibility “You can’t improve something you can’t see, and you can’t manage something you can’t measure, [and] that today’s managers need to be less self-focused and instead seek to be “interested not interesting.”

Lindsay Verstegen, Chief People + Diversity Officer at the Detroit Lions, talked about managers showing their vulnerability to their employees and thereby being more relatable.

Australia’s own Ben Crowe, a former global Nike executive, who is now one of the world’s most in demand professional mindset coaches was part of the panel. He believes managers need to be focused on connection, purpose and performance. We had the opportunity to speak with Ben directly and his views resonated with us as this is exactly with what we’re trying to do at DKL – create a positive and inclusive work environment and culture as well as with our client and external relationships.

For those who are interested in learning more, you can listen to the panel discussion from the SXSW conference here

Representing everyone

Another highlight for us was a presentation by world renowned British actor and filmmaker, Dev Patel, and Dylan Alcott AO, Australian former wheelchair tennis player, former wheelchair basketball player, radio host and motivational speaker, on the topic of representation. Sonia was very nervous to be in the same room as these two impressive humans – she even got a selfie with Dylan!

Whilst from very different walks of life, both Dylan and Dev spoke about the importance of diverse people being represented – whether this be in the workplace, in mainstream media, movies, tv, advertisements etc.

Dev, whilst being born in Britain is of Indian descent and talked about the challenges he faced early on as an actor, whose Indian culture has been underrepresented in Hollywood.

Dylan is passionate about the representation of disability and removing the stigma from the word ‘disabled’. He spoke about his initiative, Shift 20, which on its website states that “nearly 20% of Australians have a visible or non-visible disability, yet only 1% of advertisements include them.” Shift 20 is a coalition of Australia’s top brands working towards increased representation, inclusion and accessibility in marketing and communication.

Representation is an issue close to our hearts and our belief system in respect to inclusivity and diversity, not only in the workplace, but in everyday life.

You can view more on Dylan’s Shift 20 initiative here

SXSW is coming to Sydney in October

We enjoyed SXSW so much that Danny has been working with a few like-minded and passionate leaders to submit a topic and panel session for the SXSW event coming to Sydney this October. It’s called – Embracing neurodivergence – how to be part of an inclusive future.

Whether or not this session makes the October agenda, for those wanting to learn more about the eclectic world we live in and enjoy a vibrant mix of content for their personal and professional growth – then why not get along to SXSW in Sydney later this year.

The above should not be considered legal advice and is for general use only.