Losing a mentor

In mid-February I left my employer of 5 1/2 years for greener pastures.  It was really hard to leave but the decision was best for me and the organization.

One short week later, the colleague I had sat next to for 18 months passed away very suddenly.  He was 1/3 of our Salesforce team and our only Force.com developer.  To the extent we had time, he was teaching me how to code in Apex and Visualforce.  He was my sounding board for ideas. Travis was more than a colleague, he was a friend.

When he passed away I was impacted in ways I am still struggling to describe.  I lost my mojo.  I stopped engaging in the Twitter community.  It was hard to talk to my Salesforce buddies.  I didn’t know how to tell folks that my colleague had passed away.  That’s not something you put on Twitter!

As I prepared for Dreamforce, I was determined to be as engaged as I had been the year before.  It was harder than I expected. I spent a lot of time navel gazing.  Wondering what Travis would have thought about this session or that hallway conversation.

What I finally came to is that Travis would have loved every minute of the event.  He would have laughed at my navel gazing and told me to “Get on with it!” in his best Monty Python voice.  So, I’m getting on with it.  My mojo is slowly returning and I’m reengaging.  I’m remembering why I was a part of this amazing community in the first place.  I missed it. And I miss Travis.

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Packing list for Dreamforce ’10

Dreamforce ’10 is rapidly approaching.  This is my first pass at a packing list:

  • Power strip – I made a lot of friends at Dreamforce ’09 by bringing a powerstrip.  I kept it in my backpack and whenever I landed in a session I whipped it out.  Instant popularity!
  • Business cards – Bring lots!  You will meet lots of great people.  All of whom will want to remember you later.  Help them remember by having a business card handy!  Be sure to have a place to put their business card too!
  • Old call phone chargers – You probably have a couple in your junk drawer at home.  Someone will need to charge their phone and you can be a hero by having a spare.
  • An empty bag – This is for all the stuff you’ll come away with.  Heck, ship it back to yourself if you can’t stomach the airlines’ bag fees.
  • Swag requests – Co-workers will LOVE you for finding their favorite desk toy (Blinking pens?  Chattering teeth?  Anyone?  Anyone? Bueller?)
  • A jacket – San Fran can be chilly and so can the session rooms.  Bring a jacket!
  • Chocolate chip cookies
  • A sense of humor – The lines for the coffee can be long.  Sessions can be overcrowded.  The keynote is likely to be PACKED.  Be willing to laugh off the logistic gymnastics the Salesforce folks had to go through to get 20,000+ people together!
  • Walking shoes – Screw looking great, the Moscone Center is big and so is San Fran. Don’t get caught in uncomfortable shoes!  Your feet will thank you.

In a similar vein, here are some things to leave at home:

  • Personal space issues – You can’t put 20,000+ people in a building and not be crowded.  Can’t be done.  Be patient with each other!
  • Delusions of getting enough sleep – Last year there was at least one after-party each night.  You will be tired, but the people you’ll meet and the fun you have will make it all worth while.  Besides, you can sleep on the plane ride home!

What will you be bringing to Dreamforce ’10?  What did you bring last year that you should have left at home?

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