Looking back at MacWorld

15 02 2010

31,000ft provides an excellent environment for a variety of activities.  Looking out the window at the span of land below.  Pushing the little button on the left of your armrest, and tilting back the seat to catch a bit of sleep while hopefully not annoying the fellow air traveler behind you.  Perusing the latest edition of SkyMall and chuckling while wondering who buys some of these items, and seeing great fits for other products.  I, on the other hand, decided to try something different.  Plug in the iPod, fire up the laptop, and use the setting of 31,000 feet as a venue to reflect from an S-80 distance on my experience being part of the conference faculty at MacWorld.  I could write in 5,000 words all my feelings, but there are a few resonating moments worth mentioning.

The conference planners did a great job on taking care of speakers.  And speaking of speakers, to those of you I met, it was a pleasure.  Getting to know other Apple professionals from around the country on a peer-level was excellent.  Each of you has a unique story to tell, a tool-kit of skills, and a perspective backed by experiential knowledge that cannot be quantified by gross earning, salary, or job title.  My co-presenters Ben Greisler and Gerard Hickey; it was an awesome experience to work with you on this project.  I also need to thank Ben and Arek Dreyer for not only asking me to take part but for providing encouragement and giving me some great advice.

Prior to MacWorld and actually setting foot on our stage, I knew it was a privilege to be speaking to others in the MacIT track of MacWorld.  Once you walk into your room and step foot on the stage and survey the soon-to-be filled chairs and tables, the tangibility of the event hits.  Attendees are here with a purpose; they want to learn.  Ben, Gerard and myself had the topic of “Mac Enterprise Integration” and our job was to pick from the wealth of information on this encompassing topic a total of twelve hours to share.  I think of all the content on the web, in books, mailing lists, forums, and to pick only twelve hours is a challenge.  However, that is our job; a job we all wanted to do right.  Our purpose?  To have our attendees leave our session feeling they got excellent value and could apply concepts in their environments.

To attendees, I want to thank you for putting the energy forth to become a better Mac professional.  One story struck and stuck with me from the week.  There was a gentleman who has attended MacWorld for over twenty years.  A University employs him.  It was a story that had reactions on the same topic diverging in two different directions.  One of those was a sense of disappointment in the lack of organizational support in the form of professional betterment toward learning and updating skills.  Contrasting this view was the commendable dedication toward learning.  So, what is the story eliciting these thoughts?  Four of the last seven years he has paid out of his own pocket to attend MacWorld.  Not only does this include airfare from the Midwest and lodging, but utilizing well-earned vacation time to attend.  I can think of a lot of people, especially in this economy, where, if not receiving some assistant from their employer, would not even consider spending money out-of-pocket for something work-related.  Tuesday to Saturday in San Francisco is not cheap.  And he was willing to sacrifice his own money and his own time to attend.  Bravo.

When writing, some have said the setting makes a difference.  Some prefer quiet; Hemmingway had his own preference, others, noise.  And my current altitude is a fitting venue.  From 5.9 miles in the air with the gentile hum of engines, the flips of pages, creaking of tray-tables and clicks of my own and others keyboards is what it meant to me and what I learned from being a presenter.  One trait I found to be true amongst all the presenters was the attitude toward helping others.  Not only from the simple standpoint of creating content for a 90-minute, or one day, or two day session, but being approachable to others and willing to share knowledge; quite simply, to be teachers and resources to others.  Some of us have made this journey and have the scars, grey hair, lessons and pitfalls to prove.  The conference faculty was willing to help others avoid those four items.  I feel great to be included in this caliber of professionals.

To present at MacWorld, one needs to prove their value and commitment to the larger community; you don’t just get picked at random.  Stepping from the role of consumer of information to creator and disseminator requires a different demeanor.  You are not necessarily viewed as the person who presenting a specific topic, but a representative of the presenter body as a whole.  People approach you to ask questions, share their thoughts, and offer improvements.  Being supportive of other speakers, offering insight to attendees, and valuing all conversations is part of the job.  I got some great tips from Arek on this.  Thanks.

That puts me at the point of reflection where you think about what you did, how it went, and what to do differently for the future.  I would love to be on a flight from San Francisco to snowy Chicago at MacWorld time next year.  I’d love the chance to share and facilitate sharing from others what they have learned.  Given the chance to do the presentation again, my goal is to make it better and more relevant.  I’m excited hoping I get the chance to catch up with attendees and others to hear about how they have grown.  There is great potential in the group of individuals I had the chance to meet.

In summary,thanks to all of those who made this happen.  To those who I had the chance to meet and work with, it was a pleasure to get to know you.  To attendees, keep up the great work, and keep learning.  Don’t be shy to ask questions and find resources that can aid you in acquiring new knowledge.  And don’t be afraid to share!  To myself, realize people view you in a different light than before.  To those who will be involved in MacWorld next year, I’d love to be back.

Oh, and to myself again, good job on your presentation.

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