Last week I travelled across the pond to Atlanta, Georgia for the first ever North America SHARE conference. I was lucky enough to be accepted to present a session AND run a post-conference workshop at this exciting business user focussed 4 day conference, well a half day pre-session, 2 full days and post conference workshop.
The agenda was awesome with roughly 70% business led case-studies and 30% “consultant and vendor” sessions.
The conference venue (Atlanta, Marriott Marquis) and all its 55 floors (I was on 33rd) was pretty awesome:
I loved the sail inspired bar (above) pretty stunning and the bar area had a great buzz pre and post conference with a great mix of attendees and the fabulous SHARE team all having a fantastic time.
Loved the “special touches” the event team did such as this awesome plate of cheese, crackers and an excellent bottle of white wine I found in my room after the 1st day!
Another awesome and inspired touch came from the speakers briefing, where we got briefed on AV and timings etc and one by one we introduced ourselves including “what is your all time favourite song… I picked Otis Redding’s “[Sittin On] The Dock of the Bay”, you’ll find out why that’s significant a little later on in this post!
The first day was kind of a slow intro to conference life, I spent the morning going uptown to get gifts for wife & sister, a spot of Sushi with Jeremy Thake, then conference check-in and speaker briefing followed by some Free SharePoint Roundtables on a range of subjects. I sat in on Governance with Susan Hanley and then Adoption with Michael Sampson, they were pretty busy sessions, both were very interesting with quite disparate views and experience being shared.
One of the highlights of the evenings entertainment was going to the Vortex Bar & Grill and sampling the huge burger below, witnessing Richard Harbridge demolish (or was it the other way around) his triple bypass burger and drinking a “dirty hippy” (Guiness & SweetWater 420)
The conference agenda was excellent and packed with great sessions and equally great speakers. Dux led a large portion of the “show” in his own inimitable style, including “impromptu” product demo’s megaphone, rapping and a plethora of other coolness!
Quote of the day must be:
“SharePoint Don’t Suck…. You Suck!”
The keynote sessions and the agenda for the day was packed, very varied and efficiently run and all the speakers did a fantastic job. None of the sessions I attended were a disappointment which can be rare occurrence at conferences!
The closing Keynote for the day was undeniably AWESOME. We were treated to a truly inspirational and emotional roller-coaster of a a session by Braam Malherbe, Endurance Athlete, Motivational Speaker, Environmentalist, Humanitarian, this guy and his colleague ran the entire length of the Great Wall of China, end to end, non-stop! If you get a chance to ever see him present take it… and take tissues… seriously I appreciate I was tired, it had been a long day but I was moved, very close to tears.
Following the emotional roller-coaster we went to Hard Rock Cafe Atlanta for some food, drink and dancing as well as the already internet-sensation of Dux’s “SharePoint’s Nice Nice Baby..”, lots of great conversations, beer, nibbles and some very very bad dancing!
Then we moved onto a 24 hour Karaoke bar! It all goes a little foggy then, but it was a great place, loads of people even before who knows how many SHARE2012 groovers arrived. So we finished the night in really bad voice, but really great form, everyone had an awesome time…
This is the official SHARE T-Shirt, pretty damn awesome, I wear mine with pride all the time (good job I got two of them!)
Wednesday came and more great sessions scheduled as well as my session in the afternoon on Hybrid Organisations (or Anywhere Organisation as Microsoft now call it) and how SharePoint Online enables organisations to become more effective.
I got goosebumps and a huge grin when the track I said was my favourite at the speakers briefing, Otis Redding’s “[Sittin On] The Dock of the Bay” was played out LOUD in the room as I got on stage to do my session, great to have such personal touches at a large conference!
Although there wasn’t as many people in the session as I had hoped (I guess people didn’t “get” the title?), it was still a great experience presenting on the “international stage” and the conversations I had through the session were insightful and engaging.
Thursday came and it was time for me to run my all day workshop on gaining Effective SharePoint Requirements using Serious Games:
It was a great workshop, I think the two groups in the session got a great deal out of it, the conversations were fantastic, we had great fun and we came up with even more great ideas and concepts.
There was a definite sentiment that these techniques were very innovative, nothing people had experienced before and had the potential to make a huge difference to the requirements gathering process and SharePoint projects in general.
And then it was basically over…
I spent the evening watching some “important” (apparently) Ice-Hockey game in a proper sports bar with TV’s on robotic arms and beer pumps at every table with Jeremy and a few others with a couple of the SHARE team joining us later.
We finished the evening back in the hotel bar (the one with the sail) for more chilling, drinking, chatting, reminiscing and eating of Chocolate covered nacho’s… yep Chocolate covered nacho’s (with cherries and cream and ice-cream).
So that was SHARE 2012 Atlanta, I had an awesome time, the angle of the conference was really interesting and I think it worked well, I have some feedback and ideas and everyone involved is collaborating with the fantastic SHARE team to make it even more awesome next time, wherever it’s run!