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Summit 2019 - "The Hidden Figures"

Most of the articles written about Summit addressed the technical side of the story. However, I will share in this article my experience from a non-technical point of view. I will use my “trade shows and events management” hat to point some key aspects that you could appreciate during the next Summit.
Of course, after having an outstanding experience, it is not easy to write about “my magical moments” without getting closer to a Facebook story. But, if I don’t share it, it won’t be fair to those that worked so hard to make them a reality and to ensure you, that if you follow your heart and passion, each one of those moments could be yours shortly.

Not going next year, but still interested…?

Assuming that you already know that going to Las Vegas on March 30, 2020, is not an option, the Atlassian Team covered your situation this year, and I think they will do it again in 2020. To learn more about virtual attendance, please read the article from an Award Winner Community Leader, @Jody LeBlanc  as she shares her Virtual participation. Don’t miss it, you will still be there with the rest of us as she did during this Summit.

Looking for a more technical wrap up?

@Boris Berenberg -Atlas Authority-  has an excellent post that will help you navigating 80+ hours of recorded presentations: Atlassian Summit 2019 Top 20 Talks 

My 2019 Summit Experience

Tokens of appreciation

Making the story short, to the whole Atlassian Event team: Congratulations!. You Made it! Thanks a lot!. (As I develop the sections below I will mention some names, but I am sure I will miss most of them. So, when I said “the whole team,” I really mean it. Please share my appreciation with them.)

The Venue

I think the venue selected for this event was perfect. I attended to the Exhibitor Show at Mandalay Bay for a few years to complete the required courses for Certified Trade Show Marketer (CTSM). I learned to appreciate what is behind the scene, especially at this venue. In fact, those courses provided a holistic view of trade shows and change the way you see an event like the Summit, it is quite different. For this wrap-up, I will share my experience interacting with those that are behind the success of the event, I called them “The Hidden Figures,” the teams behind the teams.

Pre-event

Early birds discounts

It is a common practice to receive early bird discounts a couple of months before the Summit. However, as Community Leaders, we have special codes that are not included on the first wave. In fact, I faced the challenge that one of the DevOps Simulation Workshop was filling up quickly and I was not able to register as I have to wait for our codes. I contacted @Ashley Elder (Community Manager at that time), and she immediately pointed me to  Audrey Winslow, she quickly sent the code and I registered to the class without any problem. It looks like no a big deal, but I certainly want to point the celerity they had to solve this "minor" inconvenience.

Observant to Details

Just before the Summit I wrote an article sharing our experience at DSS, Inc. about our company Summit. I mentioned the special prize for the volunteer presenters, where the audience voted for the best two presenters, and as a prize, we were giving a trip to the Atlassian Summit. Just a few minutes after publishing the article @Angela Smith  posted a comment about Atlassian joining to our efforts offering free admission for those two team members. It was stunning, she is the Head of Event Marketing at Atlassian, juggling all the details of the Summit and despite that, she took the time to send me that comment. Again, another demonstration of engagement and professionalism. Having two paid registration allowed me to add two more team members.

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The TEAM behind the teams... @Angela Smith , @Hope Stone , @Amy , @Kyndal , @Jillian Carey , @Colleen Fry @Katie Louey -Atlassian- @Lauren Tierney @Brooke Hammel @Chris Donaldson , @Ashley Edwards @Leonie de Jong 

Sweet 16

When you share the Summit with co-workers, you enter in another dimension. You not only enjoy the event, but you also live the intensity of every moment as a team. We ended with a group of 16 participants from our company, 3 of them from the IT Atlassian team and the rest from other business areas, the actual users from QA, Product Development, Business Process Management, Operations, and PMO. All thanks to our CFO (Robert Missroon) and the help from Atlassian with the discounts and free passes for our Summit presenters.
With a group of this size, it is inevitable that changes will occur and as coordinator I was responsible for managing those changes. Considering the magnitude of the event, I tried to minimize the interaction with Audrey, so I checked my requests before sending my emails to her, it didn’t matter, she jumped right away to address the issue, providing the right solution and even checking to be sure everything was OK. Her service was outstanding and simplified the whole readiness process. 

DSSTEAM.jpgThe DSS, Inc team at Summit 2019 - @Fabian Lopez , Jeff Smith, Jeff Simpson, Mike Troynel, Carl Allen , Jeremy Price, Brent Berrios, Jenn Weser, Deanna Benz, Julie Yost, Greg Skillman, Naomi Brown, Grant Kirkman, and Michele Burst, Felicia Hearing and Joe Lo Buono.

Arriving at Las Vegas…!

First impression

Finding the location of the Summit at Mandalay Bay could be a challenge and more if you try to find it on Sunday evening before they close the registration. However, a friendly individual with a smile and a Summit sign waiting outside the elevators circle was a game changer. He quickly provided the directions needed, and I was right on target. He was not the only one, I found many of them along the way.
Their friendly attitude was contagious, my excitement about the experience was growing as I was seeing the other guides. They were not just a sign, they had personality, they had a good mood and the desire of providing a great moment for all of us lost in this huge convention center. I corroborated with this experience that the group managing the event set the tone for all the staff and I was able to see it in action.  It was the same rewarding experience every single day.

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Of course, some Community Leaders, like @Ed Gaile [Atlanta, GA] assisted with directions as well ;) 

The role of the Extended Team

For an event like this, finding the right number and quality of staff members is a challenge. It is impossible to fill all the positions with company team members, so you need to rely on contractors. The issue here is that they need to morph to be part of just one staff. As attendees we will always look for that feeling. The photographers Amy Tolbert and Drew, that are part of a third party company, clearly understood the professionalism required and they acted as one more Atlassian team member. No difference at all, the same attributes and professionalism just focused on capturing great memories.  In the same way, those assisting with the audio like Billy and Jeremy, did the extra mile so all the presenters could be relaxed and just focused on their presentation.

DevOps Simulation Workshop

Monday morning and ready for the DevOps Simulation workshop. All training rooms and breakfast available, our instructors, @Nick Silva and @Mike McGreevy  were on the “launch pad” like expecting the next SpaceX rocket to be launched.
Well executed realistic simulation, and tools agnostic as expected. In fact, if you are planning to navigate the waters of DevOps, this simulation will avoid the situation where you have the cart in front of the horses. 

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DevOps Simulation Workshop

Community Day… Yeah!!! The world in the house!

Monday afternoon, a day before our great meeting, @Celina Zamora-Torres@Bridget , @Cassie ,  @Stephanie Grice@Stephen Sifers -DFW-  were working on those details you don’t see. Celina was carrying all the swags boxes like an Olympic athlete and the rest of the team were setting up details. 

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The Community Team excelled on Delivery

Tuesday morning, the feeling in the room was different as each one of us arrived for breakfast, the “family reunion” with members from all over the globe was just starting. A well-oiled machine and massive announcements.

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You need to experience this, it really makes a difference in your Summit journey. During the morning we had presentations from the Community team members and @Robert Chatwani.

My presentation was right after lunch, so I opted to include some music from Argentina (a little Spanish and good rhythm “Hola Como Va” from Pinon Fijo, just to shake the nap time…). I shared my perspective about the “Community Under the Hood” and how we could work together to serve better those that are members of the community. I hope it helped to spark some ideas.

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Community Team, every one of you created, once again, one of the best days of the Summit. No device was invented yet to measure the level of a positive vibe in the room, but if it is created, I am sure they will have to increase the maximum level to measure what we perceived there.

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If you were wondering who is behind the questions and answers posted in this Atlassian Community Website or behind those locals Community Events... here are some of them, proud members of a Global Community.

First Timer presentation

Rachel Wright and I were invited to do a first-timer presentation based on our experience attending Summit. While we were preparing and checking the stage I had the opportunity to meet in person @Jillian Carey . We had a missing a clicker adapter, and we were experiencing some issues with the audio. She was in full control, just relaxed so we could keep the calm to continue with our presentation.

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General Session

 @Robert Chatwani told me, “Don’t miss the General Session, we have some surprise.” . Well, I thought, “ great, thanks! I will be there”, thinking about some new product or acquisition. Of course, I was wrong… few minutes after starting  @Scott Farquhar  was showing my picture on the big screen with my wife and the veterans from Warfighter Made (related articles).

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I was speechless, he was using his precious time to talk about our service project and this organization instead of talking about sales, success, customers, and acquisitions. What a precious moment of my life, to see my friends there on the big screen and to hear the audience. I told you, the organizers set the tone of the whole Summit, and Scott did it right there again just in case it was a doubt about the type of TEAM they are.

The rest of the evening continued in the same way, the speaker selected this year was amazing. It was a fantastic start for another beautiful journey, my 10th Summit!... and it was just the beginning… there is much more than this team had for us.

The first big day!

On Wednesday we had the sessions, the exhibit hall and then the Community Dinner, one surprise after the other. Here we go…

Well if the Community Day was our "family reunion", the exhibit hall was the "extended family reunion". The tone and friendly environment there is unique to the Summit. I was waiting for that moment to visit my old friends from the Atlassian Ecosystem, a relationship that we started years when they were just doing their first steps in the Atlassian Ecosystem. It is such a good feeling that it is impossible to describe it in just a few words. 

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The Deiser Team, international happiness!

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As Argentinean voting, Roberto Dominguez, from Comala, had the best swag: a comic book and a "Yerba & Mate" kit!

Community Leaders Dinner

While I was having a chat with my colleagues, Celina told me that @Mike Cannon-Brookes had a question for me, so I get closer to chat a little bit with him as it was time to announce some awards for Community members. I was not expecting another surprise that day, but it happened while receiving the Exceeding Everest award from Mike and Scott.

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I would like just to say thanks again! and express that what I do it is because they inspired me since the first time I met them in 2010 at the Atlas Camp in Half Moon Bay, California. I do it because I believe that there is no success without a team and because they led us to unleash the potential of all the teams, especially our DSS team.

What a moment, speechless again. Am I able to dimension the experience?... It is impossible. The whole community team really care about those that are with the keyboard just sharing our passion for the tools that allow us to improve our collaboration. The tools that enabled me to work semi-remote for 10+ years accomplishing amazing things with my team at DSS, Inc. , in the Electronic Health Records (www.vxvista.org) area, the Open Source community and wounded and disabled veterans service.

And there is more…, it is the Atlassian Way!

The Bash. Again the Community Team had another surprise for Community Leaders, a VIP area, and for those that did a certain number of events and contributions during the year another surprise: a private picture with the band before their presentation.

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Community Leaders, VIP Area - Atlassian BASH

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Exclusive picture with B'52

What can I say?… I probably had a different summit that the one you had, but I am sure you get your own jewels collected as well, and I hope you can have a unique one next year.

 

Going Home...

This summit was special for me in many ways and very emotional moments will be in my memory forever. I am working in a great company (DSS, Inc.) where our executive team really understand that adopting Atlassian was more than just turning on the switch of collaboration software, it is a cultural change, an effort that has to be continuously supported. By allowing 16 of us to attend, is an example of their understanding of how to implement enterprise solutions empowering teams to excel as we usually do with our EHR Solutions.

 

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To me, they are not the Hidden Figures

In any event, you can do the job, good enough to get to the end of the day, but if you add a great attitude, good manners, professionalism and a sincere smile, you will do magic and what better place for magic than Las Vegas?.

Each one of the names mentioned here (and many that I didn’t mention) are anonymous for most of the Summit participants, to me they are not the "hidden figures", they have a place in my heart, they were the ones that generated "magical moments" for all of us and especially for me. Thanks and keep working in the same way, just overcoming the obstacles you could face to guarantee a memorable time to all Summit 2020 attendees. You are THE TEAM!.

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4 comments

Cassie Community Manager May 09, 2019

Thank you so much for sharing your experience @Fabian A. Lopez -ACL -Mentor- ! Our Community is so lucky to have a Leader that shares, empathizes, and delivers the way you do. 

Like # people like this

Thank you Fabian including DEISER as part of your highlights. An incredible honor! The Atlassian Summit wouldn't be the same without you. you came to our booth the very first time we attended at Summit in 2012 and every time it's taken place in US you visited our booth. 

 

I hope to see you again next year at our booth in Vegas 2020 :-)

 

You're great, mate!

Like # people like this

Excellent article.

You're an amazing human @Fabian A. Lopez -ACL -Mentor-

P.S. Thank you for all the effort you put in to helping our Veterans! I can't thank you enough for this.

I'm just now seeing this for some reason... love it.  Very nice meeting you while at my first Summit.  See ya 'round the Community!

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