Never have I been so reluctant to write about something. I have shadowboxed my intention to put thoughts to paper for days now, ducking and jabbing, aching to capture it but surprisingly unable to approach the table. The growing collection of others' thoughts pushes me into the chair and sticks pen in hand, demanding, "Write!" My reward will be to finally read everyone else's thoughts about the XOXO Festival.
I am a different person than the one who left for Portland last week. My world has shifted irrevocably. I have ignited a creative spark that I promise to nurture and not let sputter out. The constant drumbeat of Create or Die!, follow your passion, create the world you want to live in, focus on what you love, put something out there, if you fail, try again.
The festival was loosely organized around those concepts, framed by the tone-setting on opening day where the Andys explained that XOXO was really about hugs and kisses, not about tearing stuff down but about adding value. Speaker after speaker demonstrated that we have the tools to create and reach our audiences. Embrace others, stop cowering in the corner, build something of value and offer it to others.
"Doing what you love for a decade... I'd take that over a billion dollars." --@moot of 4chan
"Work on some thing you're passionate about because if it becomes successful you'll have to do it all the time" - Dan & Tom from StudioNeat
"Find your voice, shout it from the rooftops, and keep doing it until the people that are looking for you find you." - Dan Harmon
What if you treated everyone you met as if they were an XOXO attendee? This is a paradigm shift, to approach everyone and expect the best.
I've hung my festival badge on my window so that every morning I face a constant reminder that I live in the world of my own creation. It's up to me to make it amazing. It's up to all of us to create, encourage, inspire.
Collection of descriptions of the event:
Ben Ward ("Maybe it's terrifying that a positive, uncynical and honest event like XOXO should come as a culture shock at all.")
Anil Dash's liveblogging
Twitter #xoxofest hashtag