There’s 9 days until Microsoft Ignite, Microsoft’s largest technology conference and I’m excited to say the least albeit a tad nervous too.
I would never have guessed that I would have been going to a Microsoft conference in the United States no less but I’m ridiculously happy that I am.
The lead up to the event and getting involved as a community reporter will mean that it will put me into contact with people who are outside of the learning field. This in itself is welcome to me because they allow me to view things and come across perspectives that are outside of my own comfort zone.
What I’d love to be able to learn while I’m there is to simply soak up every opportunity to network and connect with people who are self-directed learners and who willingly share their knowledge and expertise in all different ways.
Many of the people I’ve connected with who are going are active on social networks, have their own YouTube and podcasts, they have their own communities and willingly share their knowledge openly and publicly. I have a feeling that to them, learning – and continually learning – is not an additional thing – it’s just part of who they are.
They are passionate about their particular area of Microsoft and are willing to share this across their chosen platforms. Amusingly, where my gap is that many of these people are considered as experts to their community however, I don’t know who they are. Some people are rattling off names of their “platform experts” they can’t wait to meet. As I’ve not had this prior experience with Microsoft, I’ve had to ask “who’s that?” and by a process of elimination, have had to search online for their names, connect with them on Twitter and LinkedIn and start to build their trust of me slowly. That is, I feel like a “blow in” when it comes to not knowing who some of these Microsoft legends are.
However that’s okay. I’m actually thinking that could be a good thing.
I remember how in awe I was when I first met Jane Hart that I felt all tongue tied. Not knowing the people puts you in a position that you can ask questions because you genuinely don’t know what they do, or what they’re about so it’s like you’ve been given free reign. Of course, I looked at their LinkedIn profiles but seriously, LinkedIn profiles are so staid – they don’t show the real person – just a glorified CV with very little about the projects they’re working on. So I’ve had to do a bit of discovery to try and see if they have Twitter accounts or even better, YouTube accounts or blogs. I think these are a far better way to understand their role and impact to their community to understand.
My preparations have all been done and in the background, I have used the Session Builder app (an amazing app that captures every single thing that you may need to know about the 1600+ sessions and getting around the Orange Convention County).
I’ve added all the sessions I want to go to (and only wish there was some way of colour coding the sessions so you know which of the three buildings they’re in to prevent walking long distances between sessions.
My session planner is now full although priorities will be given to who I’ve been assigned to interview over the four days as it will be live streamed. The co-ordinating committee has organised meetings with the people and I have to be ready, hair and make up done, on location and ready for the “go live” signal to interview the person I’ve been assigned. It’s going to be a first for me – being on camera in real time and it’s a tad exciting. Talk about thinking on your feet. I’ll have to be mindful of my language and slang and always have at the back of my head that there are people out there watching this.
What’s great is that I’m going to have my own crew while I’m on. Someone on camera, a producer another doing audio. I like this team approach.
If you’ve never tried video, I can’t tell you how hard it is to do all this on your own having to worry about how you’ve set up the camera, where your things are, if audio is good – it can be a clutzy approach. I wonder how some YouTube influencers do it and I’m convinced that some of them don’t do it all themselves but have someone to help out behind the camera.
All my travel preparations have been done too. It’s going to be an extra long flight. 14 hours to LA before a 6 hour layover and then another 5 hour trip to Orlando. I’ll be wrecked by the time I get there so I’m going 2 days early to just take it easy and get over the jet lag. I anticipate Ignite will be at full speed ahead from 7am right through to 8pm at night. Long days of walking, listening, interviewing, shooting video, editing, sharing on social media.
I know I’ve not been sharing “learning and development” related posts and my L&D network is probably now already muted my tweets because I may be sharing things that could be irrelevant to them but for the time being, unfortunately this is going to continue. I do try to structure the tweet to have an L&D related flavour around how people are using experiences at conferences to become self-directed learners or how they’re continually learning in the workplace to make it relevant to this network. However, I can’t please everyone. I’m seeing that this just comes part of the job when you have varied networks and most of all, varied interests.
Do I have concerns? Sure I do.
Namely the first thing is a sliver of imposter syndrome.
I keep thinking that this is my first attempt at community reporting at Ignite and my first Ignite and my first connection with a massive Microsoft audience – and I’m not even a Microsoft techie. I’m new to Microsoft products having had a baptism of fire joining Adopt & Embrace, a Microsoft partner. However, my previous foray with social tools and technology allowed me to pick up what I needed fairly quickly. The way I’m overcoming imposter syndrome is to share what I’m learning as a community reporter so that it could help others next year to audition for the role themselves. However, the other thing is that the Microsoft community has been most welcoming to me so there’s that. This is just something I have to deal with myself and I keep thinking that “it’ll be alright on the day. Ask questions, keep smiling, have a genuine interest in other people and I should be alright.
The second thing is not the long distances of walking (to walk off all the food I’ll be eating); not the interviews themselves; not getting sick – it’s Uber.
I’ve lost count with the number of times people mention Uber as their preferred transport and in America, these ride sharing apps I guess are more recognised than elsewhere.
Personally, I hate Uber’s business model therefore want nothing to do with the app. However, people have been saying “get an uber to x” and as it’s now part of our vernacular, I thought I’d check this out.
Turns out that Uber and Lyft are the most used ride sharing apps in the US and preferred over taxis. I did some price comparisons between places I have to get to and indeed, there was a large difference. I know riding a taxi can be an awful experience but still, I believe that taxi companies should be upping their game and service to make them as competitive as Uber.
On Saturday night, I begrudgingly downloaded the Lyft app, (I couldn’t bring myself to download Uber onto my phone) and gone through the set up process stopping short of putting payment details in the app. I then had a thought.
These apps rely on you having internet access to place the ride request and follow the driver. Thing is, I won’t have that in the US as I’ll be relying on public wifi. You can grab taxis easily by getting to the taxi rank or at a pinch, asking someone to make a call for a taxi on your behalf. Phew. Saved. I deleted the Lyft app off my phone.
So THAT was the only thing I was really concerned about. Weird eh?
All that is left for me now is to pack my suitcase and get ready for the long flight by having enough with me so that I’m comfortable with the layovers. I’m hoping Qantas Lounge will let me in so that I can use their facilities and hang out there for the day…
Four days to go before I’m leaving on a jet plane….!