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.

  • Nikol

    Wasn’t Kendi’s keynote fabulous? She should be Obama’s speechwriter. I gave her a dorky pat on the knee, telling her how great her keynote was after the third TxSC panel.

    Thanks for the recap! Looking forward to seeing your piece on Ruby!

    • http://www.austineavesdropper.com Tolly Moseley

       I LOVED her talk, Nikol!  Found it so real and refreshing.  I also liked what Kendi said about not talking about your dreams for a while, because maybe they are still forming … and that’s OK.  You don’t need to have a vision right away to start on your path. :)

  • Kärt Klein

    Go Girl! Thats the spirit:) Keeping both thumbs on you make your career as NPR.

    • http://www.austineavesdropper.com Tolly Moseley

       Thanks Kart!  Look out, Renee Montagne.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=569207047 Sara Burns

    That is so awesome about about your internship. I have been wanting to volunteer at a library for so long now, reading your words about going for the internship has inspired me to go for the library! Thanks miss!

    • http://www.austineavesdropper.com Tolly Moseley

      DO IT SARA!  The library / public radio / public television / etc. are the kinds of things that give me hope for democracy, the community-based, “we’re in this together!” services that I hope never go away.

  • birdflygood

    Hey Tolly! I’m bummed I didn’t get to say HI after your TxSC panel. But it was wonderful. And you’re right about Kendi’s keynote — uber inspiring. I’m still don’t know which risks I want to take, but I hope blogging will help me figure that out. 

    • http://www.austineavesdropper.com Tolly Moseley

      Hey woman – thank you for the kind words!  And on the knowing which risks to take thing: I think that blogging puts your passions into focus.  It reflects back to you the things you care about.  For example, when I first started blogging, I was all about DJ’s and rock shows around Austin…which I cared about very much when I was 25.  (Still do, but not enough to devote a whole blog to them.)  So I’m an advocate of letting your blog evolve with you, and then when you’re ready, you’ll know which risks to take.  Some bloggers get big RIGHT AWAY and while I used to think that would be awesome, I don’t know anymore.  If I got big as a rock-shows-around-Austin blogger, well, I would be incredibly bored actually.

      So I think the Universe has a way of timing these things.  Or, to put it in less New Agey terms: you are doing the exact right thing by patiently blogging, until your larger passions become crystal clear.  :)

  • Kellyn D.

    1. You’re totally my hero for posting this and interning. That’s effing ridiculously cool. There’s no shame in wanting to learn something new! 2. This post really hit home for me. I’m only 23 and I’ve lived a pretty safe life. I have a safe job, I live at home. I’ve kinda had a hard time “getting off the tit” as my mom would say. I’m terrified that if I take a risk, I’ll fail miserably and never recover. Now I’m going to convince myself to jump and land on my feet! 

    Thanks so much for constantly inspiring me to work hard and be a better person, Tolly. You’re awesome!

    • http://www.austineavesdropper.com Tolly Moseley

       Kellyn!  You made my day!  Thank you girl. 

      And even though I think you are smart / interesting / curious / zingy enough to be successful at MANY things, I also think failure is ok … when I was your age, I was coming to the startling realization that I had made a mistake in attending grad school for Victorian literature. ;)  Ironically, that little adventure led to my first magazine job … and eventually … this.  So!  You never know where your so-called mistakes will lead.