December 5, 2006

Bulk view

Speaking of warm and fuzzies…

I had two choices for my flight into San Francisco: arrive at 11:30 in
the morning, or arrive at 11:30 at night. It is generally a good idea
to arrive in the daytime when going to an unfamiliar city, or, well,
anywhere, really. This meant, however, that I needed to fly out of
Toronto at 8:40 AM. Getting to the Toronto airport by 6:40 AM
(recommended two hours before departure) is Not Easy on Sundays, as
subway service doesn’t start until 9 AM.

W- Young had offered to give me a lift, but
it was ridiculously early and out of his way, so I was figuring out
where the best place to catch the Airport Express shuttle was. If I
took a cab to the Westin and caught the 6:15 Airport Express shuttle,
it would cost me less than a cab would. I wasn’t quite sure how all of
the timing would work out, though, and waiting in the chilly Toronto
weather for a bus was not exactly my cup of spiced tsokolate.

I was really touched when Simon insisted on taking me to the airport.
He had very little sleep from the party that had finished late the
night before (that morning, really), but there was no sign of that as
he whizzed me to the airport on the highways. It would’ve taken me at
least three times longer to commute there, and I wouldn’t have started
my day so pleasantly.

He’s wonderful. =)

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Global Network of Technology Evangelists – first conference

The conference totally, totally rocked. I’ll blog more about it when I
have free time, but here are a few quick highlights.

Guy Kawasaki was surprisingly down-to-earth. =) Well, not surprising, I guess – he’s known for being able to easily make that kind of a connection with audiences. Nifty. =) The panels were excellent, too. I liked the fast-paced panel discussion on the evangelist in you, and I’m looking forward to following up on that.

My favorite favorite favorite conference segment was when Matt Thompson (Senior Director
of the Technology Outreach Group at Sun Microsystems) started talking
about an example of ultimate evangelism: the Java Education and Development Initiative (JEDI). As soon as I heard the acronym for the project, I was riveted. When he mentioned PSITE (the Philippine Society for IT Educators]], I was, like, “I know those folks!” When he flashed pictures of the teachers from Baguio and Cebu and all these other places, I was, like, “The guy in the blue shirt in the background of the top photo is one of my best friends!” And when he waxed lyrical about the benefits of working with the Philippines to a hundred of Silicon Valley’s evangelists, I was just *floating.* Very nearly literally, too. I was practically bouncing off my seat with barely-contained energy. I love my country. I really do. I want to tell more stories about it! =D

My favorite post-conference moment was chatting with Kiran Patel and a
group of other people over dinner.
During the round of introductions,
I got to meet all sorts of fascinating people (including the guy who
made Babelfish, Altavista’s machine translation engine!). I told them
how I had moved heaven, earth, and final exams to make it to the
conference, and how I made room for it in my (grad) student budget.
This was my favorite post-conference moment because it really brought
home the fact that I *am* a technology evangelist. I have been a
technology evangelist since third year university – since I was 17!
(That’s five years now!)

And I *want* to be a technology evangelist. I’m going to make that
happen. I’m going to be one of the best they’ve ever seen. =) I want
to become really really good at connecting with people, building and
maintaining relationships. I want to become really really good at
giving presentations and engaging people in conversations. I might
even want to become really good at organizing events (best way to meet
interesting people!). I want to scale up and outwards.

So what did I take away from the conference?

I met lots of people and ended up with a stack of business cards, for
one: lots of people to meet again and again, lots of notes I can now
attach to their online personalities. I’ll encode those tomorrow
morning before heading out. If I feel diligent, I might even get them
all encoded tonight before I forget anything. =)

They’ll probably remember me for my energy and passion, my questions,
my business card, my outfit (purple and tan malong, gold and brown
scarf (thanks Simon!)!), or the distance that I flew. ;) There were a
few people from even farther – Czech Republic and China! Wow… I was
probably the youngest person there, too. =) Heh.

Meeting all these people made me realize that there are a lot of
people out there who are passionate about evangelism. Sure, I’ve read
people’s blogs, but it’s different when you *see* them. I *loved*
hearing people talk about about what they do, even though many people
have insane travel requirements. A room of evangelists – wow!

The best thing I took from the conference, though, is a better sense
of what’s out there, what people are doing, what skills people are
using, what people love about their work. I *resonate* with their
descriptions. I’ll blog more about next week, after I finish a few
more requirements.

I would *love* to do technology evangelism. Proper. Enterprise 2.0
stuff, maybe. Talking to developers, customers, etc. If IBM doesn’t
nab me, though, there are a hundred other flowers that can blossom, a
million other opportunities to make or explore. =) Sun just got a
*huge* positive karma boost with me for the JEDI thing – not just
because they did it in the first place, but because they *bragged*
about it. =D Awesomeness.

What a totally terrific conference. =D Well worth it!

What could make an evangelist conference even *better* for me?

Even more energy and practical tips. Let’s talk about our favorite
resources. Let’s talk about how we can help our (future) managers
write our job descriptions, and how we can manage the fact that our
job descriptions keep changing. Hmm… I can make this happen on the
mailing list. I’m definitely posting a list of my favorite things to
the GNOTE mailing list. (Favorite communication blogs, favorite
networking books, favorite contact management tips, etc.) In fact, I
should blog that too. Handy stuff to have around. Weekend.

More women. I don’t know why, but I’ve become much more sensitive
to this, even counting the number of women (1) in Microsoft’s partner
success stories brochure. Attendees: roughly 15% women. No female
speakers except for one panel moderator (who did a very good job, mind
you, but wasn’t speaking). Lots of women in supporting roles
(organizers, staff, etc.). I talked to the organizers, and they said
they had such a hard time looking for female speakers given the
schedule. I would’ve loved to hear Betsy Weber
talk about her work as the chief evangelist at Techsmith, and how one
of her personal metrics for evangelist success is the number of hugs
she gets. ;) Heck, *I* would be happy to talk about bootstrapping
yourself as an evangelist, even though I haven’t quite Arrived yet.
More perspectives! More diversity! =)

Minor logistical tweaks: Nametags – larger fonts, smaller
sponsor logo, consistent company identification. Also, should be there
at the beginning of event, but delay was understandable. More support
for networking, perhaps? Maybe that speed networking idea… ;)
Slightly more notice so that people can book cheaper flights? ;) Now
that we’re on the mailing list, that should get sorted out. And
something closer to Toronto would be nice, of course. I guess we’ll just have to
have an east-coast evangelism conference… ;)

But all in all – awesome, awesome, awesome!

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