Creative South: Connecting with Real People and Establishing Relationships

Creative South: Connecting with Real People and Establishing Relationships
April 13, 2016 Daniel Palacios

When all you keep hearing is: “life-changing, amazing and family,” it’s hard not to get curious.

These are some of the words that kept showing up on social media for the past couple years around the first half of April. I knew I had to find out for myself and this is the year that I made it happen.

For those that don’t know, Creative South is an annual design conference held in Columbus, Georgia. Overall, I had a pretty good understanding of what to expect based on the stories I’d read and people I chatted with, but I have to admit, my expectations were beyond met.

Before I re-cap my experience at the conference, I just want to give a little background about myself:

  • I’ve never been to a conference before.
  • I’m an introvert (until I get to know you).
  • I’m bad at introducing myself.
  • I’ve never traveled across the country without my family.

If you’ve never been to a gathering like a conference for several days, then this post will hopefully shed some light on any doubts or questions.

Real People

People aren’t just avatars. They’re real people just like you and me. I traveled to Creative South with Adam Gonzalez, who I had originally met through Instagram at a meet-up last year. We became friends outside of the online world, which is something I never thought was possible.

I decided early on that the only way I could get the most out of this experience is by getting out of my comfort zone, which I did.

I also met everyone else I knew online for the first time at the conference. These are people I only knew on social media. By the end of the trip, they were my new friends and we got to share plenty of stories, ideas and good times.


From left to right: Colin Tierney, Winston Scully, Adam Gonzalez, Shauna Lynn Panczyszyn, Sean Tulgetske, Me, Terence Tang, Scott Biersack, Danielle Evans, Eric Friedensohn. Not pictured: Scotty Russell, Dan Lee, Jeffy Thomas, Ian Barnard, Fred Rodriguez, Tommy Creenan and many more.

Comfort Zone

This was a big one for me. I decided early on that the only way I could get the most out of this experience is by getting out of my comfort zone, which I did. I initiated conversations, asked questions, and got to know people on a personal level.


Here are the takeaways in a condensed form:

  • Connect with real people–online, social media, google hangouts.
  • Make new friends.
  • Get outside of your comfort zone.
  • You’re not the only one going through this–you can have similar backgrounds and stories with people outside of your industry.
  • “Come as friends, leave as family” – the tag line is real.
  • Surround yourself with like-minded people.
  • Speakers are important, but so are the one-on-one conversations.
  • Make it count–spend your time wisely and with the people that are important to you even if you’re tired.
  • Just because you may not have anything in common on the outside, doesn’t mean you can’t learn from each other.
  • Coffee shops are your friends.
  • Take notes, pictures, videos and document the things that resonated with you to reflect on later.
  • It’s not all about what you can get out of it; it’s also about what you can give back.
  • “Change your perspective” – Scotty Russell
  • All good things must come to an end–leaving at the end of the conference.
  • Share what you learned with others even if it’s just one person.
  • Conversations can spark new ideas.

I’m still on a conference-high and I truly feel like I’ve walked away with so many new friends that are like family to me.

See you next year!