Five Questions For … SXSW Chief Programming Officer Hugh Forrest
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want to call it, to connect with other people. Those are very helpful in a lot of ways but nothing yet replaces one-on-one interaction with someone, lunch or coffee or sitting across the desk from them. From a management perspective, that is a very effective thing. Human connection still matters.
X: What did you want to be when you were a kid?
HF: It was probably an athlete. When I grew up a little bit more, it was a writer. I still want to be a writer. I use that line kind of as a joke in recent years when I speak. Over the summer, I decided I should try to quit using it as a joke and follow up a little more. I’ve been on this project since August, to try to write four paragraphs every day on Medium. Some days it’s relatively easy; some days it’s very not easy. It feeds into a kind of creativity that I don’t exercise otherwise. I would love to get to a point to write longer than four paragraphs. But as much as I’ve thought about it, I’ve never had the discipline to sit down and do anything about it.
Last week, for SXSW, I found different ways to write about the event. It was a mix of general tech stuff, cool tech stuff, some about politics. The act of writing is more important than the writing itself. I’ve gotten slightly better at it, and slightly less nervous about it. It doesn’t keep me awake at night if I don’t have an idea for the next morning.
I started this because I was listening to a Tim Ferris podcast interviewing Seth Godin and Seth said, if you force yourself to write in a public way, it’ll improve yourself in some way. It will force you to take a stand on some things. I often don’t do particularly well—I’m good at skirting the middle in things—but trying to write has forced me to get a little better at making opinions. I still have a long, long way to go.
X: If you got stranded on a desert island, what’s the one item you would have to have with you?
HF: A Kindle with a super-duper battery, something to read. If not a Kindle, then a long book. I don’t get to read as much as I’d like to at this point, so as much as I’d enjoyed getting rescued, it would be neat to relax with some really good words.