Tomorrow is the one year anniversary of my wife and I returning from a 5 month honeymoon in Asia. After getting married in Puerto Vallart, Mexico, on Halloween 2009, we jumped on a plane and landed in Tokyo, the first stop of a trip that led us through Japan, China, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, and the Philippines. We photographed temples, explored caves, experimented with exotic foods, volunteered in destitute communities, and (I) even bungy jumped off the tallest commercial tower in the world in Macau (See below).
Even though we both had a perfect life in Venice Beach, CA, with great jobs, amazing friends, and more food and music than we knew what to do with, we felt it was important to explore this part of the world before a house or kids could tie us down. Some called us crazy, but most expressed their admiration for actually going through with the trip. And thank God we did, because it has forever changed our POV on the world. We had both previously studies in Europe and traveled extensively in other regions, but heading west to the Far East is so uncommon for Americans that it seemed like something much bigger, which it was if for no other reason than that not many others we knew could point out Kota Kinabalu on a map. Now we can, and we can tell you all about it.
The reason I tell this story is not only to reminisce about the trip, but to dissect how it affected our relationship with our friends, family, and the world.
We now live in Austin, TX, arriving here in the middle of the city’s vicious summer after having spent 3 months road tripping through the US to visit family and all things Americana. We love it here for so many reasons, most importantly the music, food, and tremendous quality of life. I’ve always wanted to live in a city where people smiled as they passed on the street, but I didn’t want that city to be a Norman Rockwellian, dated town that didn’t respect differences in others. Well, Austin is that amazing place, and it only got better over the last two weeks during SXSW.
The first 5 days of SX allowed us to meet, listen to, and interact with other digital marketers. We were amongst our people, which provides value not only for insights gained, but for getting your brain in the right place. In traditional agencies, this isn’t always so easy, so it’s amazing to have 5 days of dense comradery like we did last week.
The last 5 days of SX are all about the music, and let’s just say that two days after the conference ending, my feet, liver, and sleep cycle are still recovering. And it was well worth it. Finding new bands, seeing old bands in new places, and dancing next to a limitless amount of music lovers is an invaluable experience that can only happen here in Austin every March.
Any way, what our trip and SXSW have to do with the way we see the world is that even though my wife and I were in much less communicado over in Asia than we would be back in the US, we sit here a year later not really having missed a beat with our friends, family, and work, because in the end, there are core traits that we all share together that can’t be lost in 5 months. Regarding family and friends, it goes back to the old saying: “Even though you haven’t seen someone you care about in a long time, it feels like no time has passed at all when you reconnect.” We have all experienced that on both ends, therefore it is easy to understand. Work, not so much…
The primary reason I’m in digital marketing is that at its core, it is about building a relationship between companies and consumers. It’s about pulling consumers in with our marketing, not pushing messages on them, and doing this will always be about making emotional connections with consumers. Making emotional connections is a singular objective that is made easier and done so differently based on the technology available to us. Our job is to familiarize ourselves with cutting edge and stabilized technologies and translating that knowledge into insightful strategies and tactics for our clients. That’s it, nothing more nothing less. Anything more than that is just a smoke screen, and we need to be confident enough to see through the smoke into the core issues at hand.