Year End Review for the Conference warriors

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I don’t do Merry Christmas or Chanukkah holiday cards. I also don’t really like next-year-predictions. What I do from time to time is looking back at what happened to what we do or has happened to me. Looking back at 2013 there is one specific point in time that I will never forget for the rest of my life; Leaving Las Vegas, after PEX (aka VMware Partner Exchange).

Leaving Las Vegas

It’s 7am. I booked an early flight so I’m already at the gate. Tired as hell after a whole week of working the show-floor bright and shiny plus socialising afterwards till dawn. My flight is delayed … more than an hour. I start thinking back about this whole week.

At Partner Exchange everyone is kind of in the same boat. We are all working either for VMware or a technical partner. We are also all part of this travelling trade-show, sometimes it’s even a circus (think of VMworld). I met so many new people again but most of all I got really close to a few I only knew from previous occasions or even just from Social Media presence.

And then it happened; I cried. Of course being tired as hell helped here but the real reason was the emotion of leaving some true friends. Every time I go home from Las Vegas, or San Francisco or New york for that matter, it’s a cross-atlantic flight that seems so far it could be a farewell forever. That moment made me realise I sometimes feel equally sad leaving conferences as I feel leaving home.

The School of like-minded

It’s very hard to explain to other people (family & friends) why we like to go back so much to people you have only met once or twice in your life. Something that comes close is the following quote from one of those new friends: “I’ve met some of the smartest people in the industry. Not just one-dimensional geeks but people who apply psychology and the arts in technical discussions”. That comes close to how it feels for us but still doesn’t explain it to strangers. For that we need another analogy:

Think back about your high school days: amongst 1000 students you had about 10 close friends with whom you truly connected well. Now think about that same high school with a 500 students with whom you instantly connect well. THIS is how those conferences feel.

My advise

Lynn sometimes calls this travelling circus my “second life” and that is of course absolutely not what we want. The work/family balance is the hardest part of being a roadwarrior. This year I’ve seen one too many really good roadwarriors changing jobs or just quitting because the balance was lost. A travellers life only works if every aspect of it gets truly embraced by everyone involved. They need to want to be part of it! If not; get out! It’s not worth it.

For the roadwarriors’ manager: if you have those 100k miles, 50 cities people in your team and you want to keep them there, make sure they get to make that skype call every day. Make sure you got their back when they feel homesick one day. And above all; if you truly want to show your appreciation, do something awesome for their family! Make them feel how much you appreciate them being disconnected from their loved ones so much for you.

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