Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Sunday and Monday and Tuesday

The past few days have zoomed by very quickly. They always do when you are at Catalyst Conference. The good news is I did leave the hotel today. We walked out the door, decided that we could not have a European meal in the timeframe that we had and walked back in to eat at one of the hotel restaurants. It was a good meal, plus I got to actually leave the hotel. Haven't done that in a couple of days. I promise to take more than 10 steps outside the hotel tomorrow.

I have been talking to the wife every day. It is important that I let her know that just because I am 7,000 miles away it should not hurt our communication. I am happy to be coming home in a couple days and it is good to see that I have plenty to do once I do get home. It should be a good time. I don't think things will slow down until after the new year at this point. With Halloween next week and then Thanksgiving and Christmas right around the corner. Doesn't it sound weird to say "Happy Holidays" right now? Believe me, it will be here before you know it.

Sunday was a final day of getting ready for the conference. I did get out of the hotel a couple times and that was great. Saw a little bit of the town. Had Italian for dinner. We always have Italian at least once while we are gone. When I said that the best Italian I ever had was in Munich it made KBeard and Ivan think about the Munich trip and their favorite Italian. This is when Ivan said his favorite Italian was during the Monaco trip. I did not go to Monaco, it was before my time. I knew once Monday hit I was in for good (for at least a couple of days). We set as much signage as possible on Sunday, as well as making sure everything was set up for the next day. Registration even opened on Sunday.

Monday was workshops for attendees. I was not the workshop coordinator for Europe (first time I have attended a Catalyst Europe without doing this task). It was nice to just be a helper. Sid did a good job. I helped with signs in the morning and talked Sid off the edge because he can get a little hyperactive sometimes. With my role at Catalyst I had to help with stage setup and to ensure that things were acceptable for the content team. This was not hard, just time consuming. It is very fun to see everything get put together. Also on Monday is the room coordinator meet and greet with the audio/video staff and a separate meeting for Burton Group analysts to see the stages, learn about the clock and prepare themselves for Catalyst. These meetings were good and afterwards there were changes to the stage that had to be done. Monday night is the opening reception and I attended and ate a very good meal.

I should also let you know that on Monday I was also trying to get some "day job" work done. This is work that I do at Catalyst that has nothing to do with Catalyst. I have a bunch of work to get done and I got about a quarter of it done Monday. At the time I had hoped to get more done on Tuesday, but you will see later that did not happen and I now have to hope that I can get something done on Wednesday.

Tuesday is the first day of general sessions for the conference. We have record attendance at this Catalyst and I was very interested to see just how many people were actually here. We have well over 400 people checked-in to the event. With more hospitality suites (thus, more check-ins tomorrow). It is a really good sign for my company that even in these trying financial times, we were able to get this great attendance number. The first day of general sessions is always crazy. I try to be laid back, but always end up running all over the place. I decided this year that I was not going to do that. I decided I would get up really early to ensure no problems. I was to the office before 7:00AM. The show starts at 9:00AM. One of the room coordinators beat me. I helped this room coordinator get all set up with her room. And then started moving through all the other rooms. I was talking with AV and Burton Group people, preparing for the day. The morning went pretty smooth and I let our a huge sign of relief when the sessions started. I hung out for a while to make everything was working and then I went to breakfast.

I was so late for breakfast it had closed and I was forced to go to the hotel restaurant for breakfast where I had my usual. From there I was back in the sessions making sure everything was working. I had to have master of ceremonies announce to have everyone turn off any network scanning devices as they were interrupting the network. I had to ensure that that was worded correctly and got to all the rooms. Many other small things happened (laser pointer was needed, printed signs, etc.) and it prohibited me from working anymore in SharePoint (I guess I could be doing that now, but I am trying to get ready for bed).

I room coordinated for Sid for the last 20 minutes of the day. I was IMing with Diana while I was room coordinating. I picked up and went back to the office where I chatted with all the room coordinators as they came up to the office. They all agreed that the day was pretty flawless. Tomorrow will be interesting. We have 2 roundtables tomorrow afternoon that have a combined 13 people on the stage at once. Plus, we still have the other two rooms at that time. Things could get crazy. I am sure it will work out though.

At this point in the day I was ready to go to the hospitality suites. I ran through those, did not really eat much, and I was done. This is when we (Ivan, Kristin, and I) decided to try and get out of the hotel. This did not happen as explained above. Well, technically it did happen, because we did leave the hotel.

I type this while I wait up to talk to Diana. I am missing the family and am getting more excited everyday to come home and be with them again. Just two more days to go for me.

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