The thing about SXSW was not neccesarily that I learnt tons of new stuff, but that the panels and speakers articulated what I already felt in a new and powerful way. Case in point: Tony Hsieh of Zappo's keynote included an insight into their recruitment philosophy. They hire - and fire - people on a culture criteria; not just whether they can do a job effectively. So much so that there is a two-tier interview process. The first to see whether the candidate can do the job, the second to see if they fit in with the company ethos.
I have always felt this - all companies should do this.
I've seen so many small businesses trip up when they grow bigger and don't pay attention to whether the candidate has the right spirit to fit in. Sure, they can do the job, but does the person reflect the culture of the organisation, do they have the brand DNA in their personal DNA? Lose the spirit of what makes your company special and you'l lose your edge, your business and ultimately, your clients. It's a defining part of any offering.
I have handfuls of examples of people at all levels who were hired because they were good but failed or jeapordised business success because they didn't fit in. And I have been working with a client who recognises this only too well - which is why they are successful. They've been interviewing for a new role. Seeing loads of people who can do the job well, but no candidates yet who have that 'spark'.
So if you are recruiting, ask yourself does the candidate have the spark? Remember, it may be more important than experience. Because you learn experience but you either have spark or you don't.