Last week I got Engaged with 400 people!
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Last week I was lucky enough to attend my second one, this time in Eindhoven, NL. Here's a look at the venue:
Engaged really does describe the event. 400 people with a common interest, sharing knowledge and expertise, and a passion for solving problems with tools and techniques.
Day 0 - this was the evening that everyone gets to the hotel. It's hard to describe the welcoming feeling you get when you walk into the hotel lobby and everyone there is happy to see you! I can see that this could be a little intimidating if you're new to the community, it certainly was for me a few years back when I didn't know anybody. But this community is like no other. They are open, friendly, welcoming. It only takes a couple of conversations at the bar to became integrated into this community. When you observe the interactions between people, you can see the fondness everyone has for one-another, the shared jokes based on recent conversations online, or past history. This community gets social, in all its forms. That evening we all gathered at a local bar, and basically took over. There were lively conversations, a lot of hugging (I'm looking at Mat Newman, specifically).
Day 1 - kicked off with an awesome keynote by our new GM Inhi Cho Suh. Inhi, being new to the Collaboration space, did her homework. She gave us her take on the rich history surrounding our community, and related it to her own life along a timeline. She was funny, earnest, compelling, and most of all, open. There was also a big announcement! IBM Connect 2017 will be February 22nd at Moscone West in San Francisco! Serious tech companies hold their conferences there, and IBM is serious about investing in Collaboration Solutions, that message was clear. Next up was the Toscana demo team, Suzanne Livingston, Chris Crummey, and Sarah Gibbons showing a compelling story of how project Toscana can help the completely mobile worker get their job done, no matter where or how they work. And the keynote was rounded off with Warp Speed Sponsoring. This was brilliantly done. Each of the sponsors had 30 seconds to tell you why you should visit their booth in the showcase. The mic cut off after 30 seconds, which was entertaining in and of itself, and the sponsors who got cut off were brilliant sports about it. The rest of the day was filled with sessions and plenty of chances for interactions with sponsors during breaks, and rounding the day off with speed sponsoring, where attendees are divided into groups, and start at a sponsor booth. Each sponsor gets 3 minutes to tell the group about heir product, then we rotate. That evening the VIP dinner was upstairs at the Evoluon. Great food, good conversations, and a couple of surprises behind the bar!
Day 2 - sessions continued all day with plenty of opportunities during breaks to talk to sponsors, and occasionally people were found taking a power nap in the beanbag area outside the speaker room. The event came to a close with the traditional prize drawings. People were randomly chosen by Theo's random name picker app to receive prizes from the sponsors. And last but not least, a well deserved surprise for Theo and his wife Hilde, who have worked so tirelessly to put this amazing event together! IBM Champion, René Winkelmeyer put together a collection to give Theo and Hilde a thank you gift from the community. The response was overwhelming and René had a big budget to work with, resulting in a wonderful gift package, including a bottle of very nice wine that Theo had been coveting, but it was a little too pricey, a BB8, because everyone needs a tiny robot, and best of all, time with each other away from the hustle and bustle of work in the romantic city of Bath, England, complete with flights, hotel, and dinners for two at Bath's most romantic restaurants. Shout out René for putting all of that together. And I think for the first time ever, Theo Heselmans was rendered speechless.
Bonus event - that evening, Theo had a surprise event lined up. We were divided into two groups. One group went to the Philips museum for a tour, the other group went to The Escape Room. I got to go to The Escape Room, and it was fun and frustrating! The point is that you get locked in a room as a team, and have to solve puzzles to get a code to get out of the room. Sad to say that NONE of the teams actually made it out of their rooms, but on the bright side, that means that nobody will have to hear about it for the entire year! This community is competitive!! Then the two groups were reunited for a fabulous dinner. Much laughter and sharing of stories about our evening.
So a big THANK YOU to Theo and Hilde Heselmans for yet again a brilliantly done event. One that is used as the yard-stick by which all other user group events are measured.
Some blog posts about Engage that I've found around the web:
Martin Jinoch: http
Patrick Kwinten: http
Kim Greene: http