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How To Not Be A Douchebag at SXSW Wrap-Up

Filed Under Education, Personal, SXSW on 2010-03-18, 20:06

Image by Scott Beale

The first ever “How To Not Be A Douchebag at SXSW” session went incredibly well! Violet Blue, John Adams, and I led a Core Conversation this year at SXSW Interactive with the hopes that we would raise awareness and help with douchebaggery reduction. We had a full room with mostly newbies, but a few SXSW veterans and even some reformed douchebags showed up. The core conversation was the perfect format and really encouraged discussion and some debate.

You can listen to the talk or download it.

In preparation for this session, I realized that a lot of being a douchebag could be boiled down into three realms:


Douchebags generally act like they are entitled and that the world should stop for them because they are so important. Take a second every now and then to reflect on how you may be acting. Don’t be that self-entitled douchebag arguing with the doorman, “Don’t you know who I am?!” Douchebags also have an “undue sense of accomplishment” that they think entitles them to something even though they’re just riding coattails.


Common sense manners are huge! Please, thank you, don’t cut in line, etc. Oh, and the biggest thing when we’re guests in Austin? TIP! Tip your waitresses, the bar staff, and especially those working open bars. Not only is it nice, you never know when it might come back around and help you out, i.e. quickly getting drinks for that important business client. Treat the volunteers well and thank them for their hard work!


Check your motivation when interacting with people. Are you genuinely interested in them and what they have to say? Or are you just trying to gauge whether or not they are worth your time? According to Google we’ve come up with a new term: “badge surfer”. A badge surfer is someone who is constantly checking people’s badges, even before getting introduced to them to see who they are and what company they work for. It’s fair to check badges later when you may have missed a name or something, but don’t use them as a measurement of whether you should talk to someone.

I think if you keep these three things in mind (EMM), then you can avoid a lot of douchebag behavior at tech conferences like SXSW. But that wasn’t all we covered in the conversation. Some other great points were brought up: