February 3 2015
I just returned from my 19th IBM-related January trip to Orlando in the last 20 years. Was this trip to IBM ConnectED 2015 the last one? I don't know. I'm no longer in the product organization connected to the event; this year, now that I report to the IBM CIO office, I was more client than vendor. It was nice to have my brand everywhere:
During the week, I delivered an updated version of my IBM Social Business Transformation presentation. (Slideshare won't let me upload it right now) I also had the chance to attend sessions, something of a rarity for me over the year. I was very encouraged by the Connections "Next" information, the IBM Verse sessions, and had some great interactions hanging out in a small separate CIO track. I did some press interviews as well, and caught up with a number of business partners and vendors to learn of their wares. It was a productive week; I only wish my facial pattern recognition algorithm had functioned better. It's hard to remember every name after two decades.
In my session, I was bluntly asked to restart my external blog. Over the last six months, while I have been focused on social adoption inside IBM, it's been challenging to have the bandwidth to write for both external and internal channels. Yet I learned that there is an appetite for the kinds of stories that I shared in my presentation to be published externally. Message received. The session was also notable because we recognized the first winners of the IBM Social Business Transformation Impact Award. I'll try to get those stories published here. Each of them recognized real, measurable business outcomes that resulted from moving processes and conversations into the open in our internal deployment of IBM Connections. We are, as I say, moving beyond "holding hands and sharing files" into these real outcomes for the IBM business.
I've read a lot of great summary IBM ConnecctED 2015 blogs in the last few days, including some that have nostalgically looked back at 20 years of events in Orlando. I've never done anything else in my life as long as this event - my first trip was in 1996 as an information desk staffer. I've spoken at the last 17 Orlando Lotuspheres, perhaps a record? It's been a great run.
Over the last few days, I wanted to do something like John Roling - post some of my top Lotusphere memories. I'm sure I'll miss some incredible things, and like everyone there are also a few that are best not put on the blog :-) so let's try. Admittedly, some of these bullets will mean something only to a few people. Even better, if we share a memory I've forgotten, please feel free to comment - 20 years is a long time!!!
- Bringing Ray Ozzie to Lotusphere 2005 is still my event highlight over all these years. Ray was extremely generous with his time and energy; that we were also able to team him up with Esther Dyson for a session was magical. That was also the one and only time I managed to get the "voice of god" to introduce me at the start of a session!
- Lotusphere IDOL. Hosting this session for several years was incredibly fun, and created a pipeline of wonderful speakers for future conferences. We had a ton of fun and didn't overstay our welcome. Gab Davis, Rocky Oliver, Susan Bulloch, Kristin Keene all made this thing work, and work it did.
- Ask the Product Managers. Not sure why we didn't do that session sooner, but I'm glad we did. Also it was my idea to combine it with Ask the Developers last week; Lotusphere behind the scenes is like Hotel California, you can never leave!
- 8-Trax at Disney's Pleasure Island - in our younger days, we were there until 2 AM closing dancing and laughing. You can have your Copa-Banana, but 8-Trax was it for me.
- I suppose Kimono's wasn't so bad either, but Hoobastank isn't really the right karaoke set for the Lotusphere crowd. Or any crowd. I wish they had had more contemporary tunes, but it was fun for what it was.
- Winning the Penumbra Prism award. 2003. Not previously revealed, Rob Novak had to implore me to be at the dinner that night; my then-wife was in town and wasn't ready for me to get into work mode on Saturday night.
- Sandra Marcus. Not there this year, but the reason this event was so incredibly successful and flawless in years past. Were mistakes ever made? Of course, but Sandra knew how to do things right, first class, and without drama. Missed you Sandra.
- Jim Gaffigan laughing with then marketing-VP Surjit Chana about watching a particular kind of video. I became a huge Jim Gaffigan fan after that closing session ("hot pockets!").
- Benjamin Zander phonetically teaching us to sing in German. Talk about collaboration.
- Having to walk to sessions at the Boardwalk conference center - I bet a lot of people don't even know that the Boardwalk has a conference center. Or as someone reminded me last week, having a dining tent badge for the Swan when staying at the Y&B. Sometimes the logistics were challenging.
- The cookie.
- Nuttin' but stringz. That was a way to wake up on a Monday morning.
- The Turtle. Scott, I know you're still out there. Thank you for everything you did to bring the community together before blogging.
- The R5 Guy.
- Skipping the Wednesday night park, ordering in Thai food. Multiple years. :)
- The year I tried to make it through the week while fighting an allergic reaction to the antibiotic I was taking. By Friday I was broken out in a skin rash and fever, far worse than the infection I first was trying to treat. I think we all got sick at Lotusphere, numerous times. Maybe not Julian Robichaux.
- Not remembered: Sleep. In my normal life I am exhausted by 10 PM, somehow at Lotusphere 4-5 hours of sleep was always fine. Huh?
- The Boss Loves Microsoft: Where does that leave Lotus? I never really expected to give that session for five years running (or was it more)? The cat and mouse game of whether legal would approve the slides was always the most fun; followed by the second most fun:
- Spot the Microsofties - we don't do this anymore, but in our collective younger days, we used to give the Microsoft employees bright red badges when they attended Lotusphere. SO then they started registering under fake company names - but we'd out them anyway.
- It wasn't so great when they called their competitive project "Red Bull" and I chose to show the entire session what I thought of that by discarding a can of Red Bull in dramatic fashion. Only problem was that Red Bull as a company was a Notes customer - and sitting in the room at the time!
- Project "Bluejay" - Jeanette Barlow and I totally made that up in 2000 to have something to talk about with the press.
- Bringing rollerblades and skating around the MGM Studios parking lot before the park opened in the mornings. It's been a long time.
- Bruce Elgort, Nathan Freeman, NotesOSS and OpenNTF. These guys put more into the community than any ten people and I am so grateful for that energy.
- The 20 year history of Notes session with Scott Souder - and being able to actually give away Notes V1-V4 around the same time. Still not sure how I got away with that one either.
- Making a thousand friends or more. Seriously, many of you who are connected to me one way or another likely came from this community. Family, in every sense of the word.
- Not to mention Lotusphere Europe in Berlin - that's a whole other amazing set of memories.
- Alan Lepofsky. OK, I'll admit it, we really are brothers.
- Blogger VIPs, especially the year they got dedicated internet and bright yellow beanbags to sit in during the general session :)
- When there were dedicated Notes-related magazines - DominoPro/e-Pro, DominoPower, Advisor - and the journalists were always friendly but always looking to scoop each other. :)
- Being part of the content team for eight years - that's a lot of fruit baskets. We always had 5-10x more session proposals than speaking slots, which means (mostly) only the best stuff made it on the agenda. The way to do it.
- The book. When I was pitched to write Opting In, they said "the manuscript has to be done in 100 days in order to sell it at Lotusphere." Talk about motivating.
- IBM Champions. We actually wanted to do a program like this about five years before we actually did. It was great when the IBM machine brought us the opportunity to do it formally, and every one of the people that have earned the IBM Champions for Lotus/Collab Solutions label did so justifiably.
- Friday night midnight press release reviews, with pizza. This was like a rite of passage for new GMs and new PR managers over the years.
- My first trip, 1996 I was a newbie and only able to stay at the Disney All Star Sports resort. For those who haven't been, it's like a Red Roof Inn in primary colors. The doors to the rooms open to the outside. I went back to my room to take a nap one afternoon and managed to sleep for 20 minutes before being awoken by noise outside my door. I peeked and saw a whole bunch of the hotel staff congregated outside my room - waiting for their transport back to the main building. They were loud! I wasn't going back to sleep anytime soon, and I was angry for being awoken despite the "do not disturb" sign. So I opened my door in a groggy state and yelled "would you all please shut ____ up!" and slammed the door. It surely got quiet after that.