The excitement has been building for months, and at long last, the time is come. On Sunday, I will make my way to Las Vegas to attend SAP TechEd. The event has been held in LV for several years now, so the actual venue is no longer that exciting to me. But, not being a very seasoned traveler, I always get anxious/excited several days before.
The Anticipation. Of course, we all know that SAPTechEd is *the* place to be to learn new technologies, let vendors chat you up, and win gobs of money at the casino. I am always looking forward to Vishal Sikka’s Keynote – having had the pleasure to meet Vishal a few times, I am always amazed at his passion and deep intellect, paired with an understanding of what developers need and want. I am also looking forward to Nate Silver’s keynote on Monday evening. Brilliant man, and I hope to learn what the chances are of my team winning either the World Series or the Superbowl. Other things I look forward to? Meeting my fellow ASUG friends and volunteers of course. The concert on Thursday night goes without saying. But did you know – there is an event that will take place on Wednesday on the show floor – the SAP Jam Band!
The Packing. Don’t laugh at me. I spend at least one week before the event to make sure I have the clothes I need (and usually, plenty of clothes that I never use, like that evening dress, for example). I have to dig out my ASUG shirts (being an ASUG volunteer) and my precious SAP Mentor shirts (yes, you will find me wearing one). I always make sure I have comfy shoes and jeans, some workout clothes.
Sometimes I forget that Las Vegas is a big city with lots of stores. So I can get toothpaste or shampoo while I am there if I need it. Regardless, I am also guilty of overpacking as far as toiletries. But nobody has ever been able to ask me ‘Hey, do you have any __________?’ and have me say ‘No’ (Fill in the blanks – clean socks? nasal spray? Motrin? Vitamin D? I’ve got you covered).
Then there are the sundries. I bring swag – yes, I am the Flashy Blinky Light person. I started way back in 1997 bringing a couple of goodies to give away in Open Forum sessions. These were little items mostly used to reward people for stepping up and asking a question in a session. Later, it evolved into a way to build the contacts. I would have attendees drop their cards into a bag, box or whatever, and at the end of a session we would have a little drawing to see who got a door prize. Sometimes, I have a copy of ‘The Book’ as a door prize. As time went on, a ‘couple’ of goodies were not enough to share with all the special people I meet, so over the past few years (in Las Vegas, in particular) I bring the flashy blinky lights. This year’s model will be:
One of the more popular (or memorable) pieces of swag were these:
For some reason, they did not get worn a lot at the conference though, so I am guessing people feel the need to be a bit more professional. I have a variety of taglines that go with these – I started with trying to convert people to see ‘The Light’ and understand the usefulness of implementing SAP Business Workflow.
Other sundries? A refillable water bottle, business cards, the expected cache of device chargers. A lot of people will say ‘Bring a sweater – those rooms get cold!’ but that’s never a problem for me.
A pad of paper and a pen – because when you count on taking notes on your devices of choice, you will be sure to run out of power.
I no longer need a white noise machine (drowns out hotel noises) thanks to the app I have on my phone. If you have trouble sleeping in strange places, I recommend you download an app to your phone too.
And of course, my agenda, which is packed, double-packed, and triple-packed. It helps to have it in hard copy. You can mark it up on the plane, and whip it out of your pocket as you are power-walking from one session to the next.
Phew! No wonder people heave sighs of dismay when they are behind me at airport check-in.
The Planning. I’ve already said I print out a hard copy of my agenda. I need to be flexible – many meetings will popup, and some even disappear. I mark the sessions that are MUST SEE and then that are NICE TO SEE. I also factor in some time on the show floor. And don’t forget, the networking lounge sessions! I think those could be just as important (if not more) than many of the lecture-type sessions.
I will be hosting 2 Expert Lounge Networking sessions (Tuesday, 10 AM, and Thursday, 10 AM). I’ve invited some of my most knowledgeable Workflow and BPM friends to help out too, so it won’t just be me spouting the same old nonsense.
My smooth departure was disrupted on Friday, when I found out my dear sweet mom had been admitted to the hospital for pneumonia. That, and the fact that we had to deliver the dog to Rhode Island on Saturday to be <ahem> cared for by my college student son and his two housemates. However, all was well with Mom – although she was champing at the bit to get home. “They don’t even have I Love Lemon tea here!”. And my son’s housemates were well and truly in love with the dog the moment they laid eyes on her. The last wrinkle was leaving my 13YO son in the care of his grandparents. At 6:45AM I was ready to leave the house, and to sneak up to his room for a goodbye kiss, when he appeared at the top of the stairs, bravely holding back some tears. Lest you think he is a wimp, well, actually, I don’t care what you think! He is my youngest child and we spend a lot of time together, and he was gonna miss me. Ditto honey.
I wrenched myself away, knowing that there are far worse fates than staying at Grandma’s and Grandpa’s (unlimited cookies!).
My arrival in LV was uneventful, and I was fortunate to be able to find some dear friends. But that’s a post for another day.