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SXSW Panel: Making Breakthroughs Happen

Posted by Sloane Kelley on March 16, 2009

After a few disruptive attendees made the Private Branded Entertainment panel uncomfortable, I stumbled into a talk from SXSW regular Kathy Sierra. The topic was making breakthroughs happen as opposed to making incremental changes, a lofty subject for a little under an hour. But Sierra offered a dozen or so ways to do this and even found room for a cameo from the lovable Gary Vaynerchuk.

Some of her best advice came toward the end as she showed her Sierra Sliders. The idea is to think about the EQ as a tool to visualize change. The Sierra Sliders can be obtained online so you can add your own categories and move the EQ levels the way you see fit. That's what Sierra describes as incremental change. Breakthroughs happen when you add new categories to the EQ and adjust those levels appropriately.

Gary Vaynerchuk joined Sierra on stage to show how the EQ visualization would apply to what he's done for the world of wine. He didn't just go out there to be another wine source doing the same thing. He added new categories to his EQ, turning the way wine is thought about on its head. It's a breakthrough, not an incremental change.

Of course, Sierra had lots of other suggestions on how to bring about breakthroughs and she ended on the idea of being amazed. Sierra showed comedian Louis CK's recent rant about phone technology and airplanes to illustrate how amazement is important.

Some of her other suggestions for making breakthroughs happen were:
-Make the right things easy and the wrong things hard.
-Take part in total immersion jams.
-Change your perspective.
-Think about what movie your users are in and what movie they think they're in.
-Be brave.
-Rethink dead ideas because something that's obsolete can be refashioned into something useful.
-Don't mistake narrow for shallow, citing The "Blog" of Unnecessary Quotation Marks.

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