“Your Time is Now”
That was the tagline for this year’s Cisco Live. As I sit down to write this, it resonates with me more than ever. My initial plan was to write a glorious recap, but I have come to realize that my trip this year wasn’t so much about what I did as much as who I met and the connections that I made.
The business of Information Technology is all about connections. Who you know is almost as important, if not more, than what you know. This is something that I can’t stress enough. I don’t know how many times in the last couple of months I have been able to reach out to someone with an issue or question and been able at the least to be pointed in the right direction. Not just that, but being a part of a community helps to develop your skills, pushes you to do better, is there when you fail, and helps you back up.
That is enough of my soapbox speech. This is about Cisco Live 2016. This was my third year in attendance and by far my best experience. It is a place where not only do you learn, but you meet new people and those that you interact with virtually. The first two years in attendance I completely missed this aspect, but you know what they say: third time is the charm.
Of all the people I met during the week at Cisco Live, it would not have been the same without the three Canadians and a Virginian: Mitch Dickey, Brennan Martin, Stewart Goumans, and Steve Holland. These four helped make the breakout sessions/keynotes that much better, the World of Solutions more wondrous, and the after parties more fun. Spending my week with these four had not only an impact on how I viewed Cisco Live, but how I see technology and my own career goals. Each of us brought something unique to the table. We developed a friendship over the week that will last long after Cisco Live.
I also got the chance to meet and learn from a lot of other great people. I was fortunate enough to share a few drinks, talk wireless and get to know some of the greats of wireless: Sam Clements, Blake Krone, Ryan Adzima, Richard McIntosh, and the ever elusive Shaun Bender. I also got the chance to hang out again with Rowell Dionicio, Mr. Clear To Send himself. I met Peter Jones and the group of us got an impromptu lesson on mGig and the future of ethernet, as well as talking about the sweet Cisco 3850. We even bumped into and had a chance to chat with Laura Babbili, the woman behind @cisco. As hard as Brennan, Mitch, and I tried, we could not bribe her to retweet us. Who can forget Lauren Friedman and the Cisco Champions crew. They turned that Social Hub into the place to be! It was such an experience to meet and talk with everyone.
It is not just about the meeting attendees. Remember vendors are people too. I met so many vendors who I’m looking forward to working with, but there were a couple that truly stood out. Before Cisco Live I had the opportunity to schedule a meeting for myself, Brennan, Mitch, and Rowell with Jerry Olla from Ekahau! It was outstanding! It’s very rare to find a company that interacts with their customers on such a personal level. Jerry answered questions, shared upcoming features, and even showed us some of the things he was working on. Afterward, we headed back to the booth to chat with Jussi Kiviniemi and the rest of the team. We talked with them for about an hour or so, and tried some Finnish candy. All this even after I almost clumsily destroyed their booth.
— Robert Boardman (@Robb_404) July 12, 2016
Next up, AccelTex. These guys make some nice antennas and enclosures. Plus, I finally got to meet Mr. Brian Smith, aka Smitty. The whole AccelTex team was great. We stopped by many times to chat with these guys. Unfortunately, we did not get a chance to hang out with them outside of the World of Solutions, but there is always next year.
Last but definitely not least is NetScout. In particular, one social media manager named a Miss Kendall Hershey. No other words can describe her but just pure awesome. Even though Mitch and I kept angling for a free Aircheck G2, she was always friendly and professional, and occasionally played along.
Let’s not forget that Cisco Live presents us with a rare opportunity to talk to their engineers about issues, questions, or really anything Cisco related. This was another first for me. Rowell and I scheduled a meeting with Matt Swartz to talk about everyone’s favorite topic, RRM. Lo and behold, walking in the door we found out that not only did we get to talk with Matt Swartz, but also Mr. Jim Florwick. It was a great discussion on RRM and how to tune it, as well as some tips on how to troubleshoot RRM problem. They also showed us a free internal troubleshooting tool that they use <insert link>. This was a wonderful experience and something that I will continue to do at future events.
There is always talk about truly how valuable events like Cisco Live really are. To me, the value used to be in seeing the new technology, touching it, learning about it. I was wrong. Yes, the technology is important because it is how we earn living. But I have found that it is the people that make Cisco Live truly great. So next year, remember your time is now. Go out and really meet the Engineers, the Vendors, and the Attendees. Find a community, join it, be a part of it. Contribute and you won’t regret it. I don’t.
Hope to see you next year.