On the flight back to RDU a young gentleman actually gets out of his seat to help me push the bloated suitcase (overflowing with, ahem, educational materials) onto the shelf. At least half of the plane population is smiling as if they actually enjoy being stuck for 5 hours with no food next to a fussy toddler. Aaaah, it’s nice to be back South!

I come home to the aftermath of leaving my husband with our 4 year old son alone for almost a week. Their grocery shopping consisted of cheese crackers and mint chocolate chip ice cream. There is no clean underwear in the whole house. There is no breakfast, even continental, unless I make it myself. And my husband proudly informs me that in my absence he ran the dishwasher only once, which means now it’s full of sticky and smelly dishes. I’m glad, however, that we actually do have a dishwasher and I just need to run it on ‘heavy duty’ cycle to take care of this. First world problems, I know, I know…

As the TechEd hangover settles, I’m starting to go through my mental notes trying to make sense of it all and find out what did I really learn.

On Monday evening right after registering I overheard a dialogue between a passer-by and an attendee (I assume):

– SAP TechEd, huh? What kind of event is it?

– Uhm… dry… industry…

I remembered about this dialogue on Day Two when good half of the SCN team was dancing in front of the stage, then when Mark Finnern showed up so immersed in Don Finleone character that most people didn’t even recognize him, and then again later when laughing out loud at DemoJam.

I guess TechEd is exactly what you make of it yourself. You could choose to wear black or red or turquoise. You could choose to get involved in an expert session, to ask questions or just yawn and walk away. You could choose to sit alone at lunch and feel sad and sorry for yourself or you could choose to look around and ask a person next to you whether they have tried free candy at the Clubhouse. It’s really up to you. But the best thing you could choose is just to open your mind. To learning something new, to hearing different opinions, to looking at things from a different angle. Without it no doubt TechEd could seem to anyone like a week-long SAP-themed timeshare sales pitch.

There was a lot of information to digest at TechEd, a lot of advice offered from all kinds of people, some of it even conflicting. But the best advice I got was, unsurprisingly, from Marilyn Pratt – to make myself available. It seems easier said than done because, boy, there are so many people that need some availability from me (actually I am only able to publish this blog because of the extra hour added today due to the end of daylight savings time). And it sometimes feels like every step just adds to the long chain of failures. (This message brought to you by the person who cancelled subscription to Martha Stewart’s Living magazine because it made me feel bad about my housekeeping skills.)  But then I realize that “making” really is a process. Even though I might fail in it, there is nothing preventing me from at least starting it.

As Woody Allen said, “eighty percent of success is showing up”. I might not be able to tell you whether HANA will live up to the expectations or what hot SAP skills will propel your career for years to come. But what I can tell you is that if you show up with an open mind ready to have fun no matter what – you will be fine the whole one hundred percent.

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5 Comments

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  1. Fred Verheul

    Hi Jelena,

    Some great advice in here! And I’m lucky enough to be able to implement it this week in Amsterdam, guided by Marilyn (who else) and others 🙂 !

    Cheers, Fred

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  2. Tammy Powlas

    I’ve enjoyed your TechEd blogs and somehow you make really bad plane travel not so bad…thank you for sharing your experiences. 

    It is always good to be open to new experiences.

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  3. Marilyn Pratt

    My friend and colleague Marek Kowalkiewicz said this best: “There is some magic that happens @SAPTeched and it is to be found between sessions and hands-on-workshops and scheduled events. It is the magic that happens during those serendipitous and thought provoking conversations that spring up between people” (I’ve taken a little liberty with the quote but you get the idea).  Ideas are born in the commerce of exchanged words.  I’d even dare say that friendships are born and strong ties are forged or further strengthened.  Raquel Cunha reminded me yesterday at innojam Amsterdam that it is a family reunion.  You and I met Jelena Perfiljeva for the first time in Vegas and yet we do “reconnect” because we have been engaged for years… virtually.  There is a special excitement around IRL meetups as Jocelyn Dart pointed out (another first IRL meetup in Vegas).  And its not just social (although social has its place).  For me, tectonic changes can happen, in perspective, in strategy, in understanding.  Well, I for one didn’t get enough Jelena time so I’ll just have to book some in NC (North Carolina) see #evilplans Marcia Walker

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  4. Susan Keohan

    Hi Jelena,

    Boy, do I know where you are coming from – I had left my home in pretty good shape, and that’s not exactly what I came back to.  <details deleted>

    Your comment ‘You could choose to sit alone at lunch and feel sad and sorry for yourself or you could choose to look around and ask a person next to you whether they have tried free candy at the Clubhouse. It’s really up to you‘ especially resonates with me.  When I go to lunch, I try to find someone who looks lonely or lost, and then I pester them with cheerful conversation… ‘How are you liking the conference?’ ‘What sessions have you been to?’ ‘What could be better’.  Sometimes, I get that funny look (‘Go away’) but more often, I make a friend of sorts.

    I am betting that there will be lots of new friendships formed at #sapteched AMS and BLR too!

    Sue

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