It’s with great pleasure that I was invited to participate to my 5th Tech Field Day event in Berlin next month, for Cisco Live Europe 2017. About one year ago, I was surprised to be invited to take part in Tech Field Day Extra at Cisco Live Europe 2016 in Berlin. I’d like today to share some thoughts on the past year and my involvement with Tech Field Day events, and specifically, about the community (delegates & organisers).
Tech Field Day is a series of events organized by Gestalt IT and the ever travelling Stephen Foskett and his accomplice Tom Hollingsworth, plus their great crew (Megan, Claire, Rich.. and I may be missing others). I’m not going to focus on the (deserved) merits of this unique event format, but more on the people, and the community that Stephen and his crew contributed to create.
I remember my first Tech Field Day as moments of intense collective intellectual stimulation
TFDx last year was my very first Tech Field Day event. I had participated in a few community events before but generally as a passive content consumer, and while I had the privilege to hang out with knowledgeable industry peers, I had always seen it as “they’re the experts and I should be glad I can hang out with them for a beer and a chat”. In preparation of TFDx I had ramped up my reading, trying to get to know the other delegates fields of expertise, and trying to get acquainted with the Tech Field Day concept.
I won’t go into all the details of my first TFDx in Berlin, I’ll focus instead on my impressions. I have some posts on the Tech Field Day section of my blog in a writing style and format that makes me laugh retrospectively. Besides making new friends I remember my first Tech Field Day as moments of intense collective intellectual stimulation, where discussions can go from casual fun to highly evolved discussions about a given technology, the state of the industry or about potential application/shortcomings of novel technologies and how they impact the current real world. It was absolutely exhilarating. It is also a great reality check and a reminder to stay humble and consider what a privilege it is to interact with valued and knowledgeable peers in the industry.
The bad thing with Tech Field Day (yes, there is a downside) is that at some point the event ends and you’re back into the dull world of “normal”, although you can still stay in touch with the delegates. While not all of the delegates know each other, there is a great online community with a high level of ethics where delegates can discuss as peers no matter the topic, their background, professional abilities and level of “stardom”. This has proved to be inspirational and pivotal in many things related to work and technology.
No matter how much independent you think you are, consciously or not you are surrounded by people in many situations. The people you like to hang out with and those you consider as inspirational contribute to a part of who you are. They ultimately influence your perspective on many things, for better or worse.
As I attended more Tech Field Day events in 2016 I found my first impressions to be reinforced and confirmed time and time again. Belonging to this community, interacting almost daily with its members and being inspired by its spirit has deeply influenced me in a positive way.
Many great things I couldn’t even think about in 2015 happened in 2016:
- I’ve learned to write (hopefully) better blog posts. To be focused on a given topic, not just giving a bullet point list of what I’ve heard. To attempt thinking outside of the product box and embrace larger aspects such as strategy, trend analysis, or even solution reviews. To take an event/announcement and explore the potential ramifications. My blog posts are still too long, but I’m trying to work on getting to the point
- I’ve (hopefully) learned to read between the lines and cut through the marketing stuff, to get at the core of where things are, to try to understand where given solutions make sense and where they don’t
- I’ve learned to stay silent (during sessions), to listen and to ask questions only if they make sense
- I’ve written a series of commissioned blog posts in 2016 for Solarwinds
- I even made it to be a panelist at the Intel Storage Builders forum, for better or worse
Obviously, the merits are shared with influence and encouragements from close friends who are not necessarily part of the Tech Field Day community. All of the above were great experiences, and being part of this community of awesome human beings and great professionals is a humbling experience which makes you thrive to learn more, to expand your fields of interest and to believe in yourself.
I trust the returning readers will pardon this one-off digression from technical topics to a slightly more personal post this time and I’m very much looking forward to meet the Tech Field Day crew and delegates in Berlin.