I was very lucky when I was invited to TechEd North America in 2007 to proctor hands-on-labs for TechEd audience. I was not an MVP, not an MCM. I was an MCT, still am. That was my first trip to the US. And I also had no idea what TechEd in North America is?
TechEd North America 2007 was happening in Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, world’s largest convention center. So if a conference is happening in world’s largest convention center, you can imagine the size of it – its larger than life, truly!
Huge exhibition space, huge conference rooms, huge halls for keynote, huge Hands-on-labs area – everything about that place and TechEd was HUGE! I felt like an ant, seriously! And it was my first time and I was enjoying every moment of it. I was running around like a kid, seriously!
And look at this, my pic on HOL TV 🙂
While I did what I was supposed to do at the conference and what I was called for, I also watched SQL stalwarts presenting at the event. And I started dreaming: WOW, speaking at TechEd North America would be awesome. Over-ambitious me, as always. And some would call me a fool, not a day dreamer!
Well, I enjoyed thoroughly at TechEd 2007 including the attendee party at Universal Studios. Met many SQL geniuses, learnt a lot, dreamt a lot 🙂 – packed my bags and my dreams, came back to India.
Not to mention, I met, the then SQL Server Director, Francois Ajenstat.
And also my friend Dandy Weyn 🙂 – the only Dandy I know 🙂
Well, loads of pics to share, but in another post.
So TechEd 2007 was my first global TechEd, I cherish the time, great experience, I was privileged that MS chose me to be there. Very nostalgic!
1st October 2007, I get awarded at Microsoft Most Valuable Professional for SQL Server.
“Call for speakers”? Did I read it correct? Or was that after-effects of my day dreaming at TechEd 2007?
It was real. As an MVP, I could propose sessions. But of course, it was for Microsoft to decide whether my sessions get selected or not. And neither was I the best abstract writer, nor was I known speaker on global platform. However, I submitted my sessions with conviction on topics that I thought I know well.
Day dreaming is a bad habit, but not so bad afterall. After a few weeks, I get an email from TechEd 2008 team. “Congratulations, you are speaking at TechEd North America 2008”. And I was allotted two sessions, WOW!
Day dreams can also come true. I started believing more in day dreaming 😉
Packed my bags again. Flew this time to TechEd as a speaker 😉 – this was indeed special!
The same hugeness was just better, it’s TechEd again for me! My first TechEd session and I made a mess of it! Despite all the practice, speaker coaching, etc, I messed it up big time. Huge room with 200+ audience sitting in front of me, on a foreign land – lights go off, clock starts and a spot light beams at me! I forgot everything! Don’t ask me what I was going through! Somehow I managed to complete my session. People around me were not happy including my track owner. And rightly so. How can I mess up at TechEd North America? There is no second chance! I get a score of 2.82 out of 5. That was very bad, if not worst. Comments made me cry, literally.
I was allotted two sessions at TechEd. I told my track owner that if he decides to cancel my session or replace it with another speaker, I will not complain. He was very supportive. He told me that he believed in my technical skills and he thinks I should get a second chance.
My second TechEd session. What was I going through? Similar room. Similar audience. That spotlight! What that moment was, I cannot describe in words. I felt like, do or die!
Clock ticked. I started. I don’t know what I did and how I did it but I had my audience coming out of the room and congratulating me for a “wonderful session”. I scored 4.52 out of 5. That came in top speaker slots in SQL Server category.
Phew! Everyone was happy. My track owner smiled and said, “Well Done Amit”!
So who was my track owner? Well, Darmadi Komo, his name is. And I am very thankful to him for giving me an opportunity to speak, not once, but twice. I am was happy I did not let him down!
I felt much better. But of course, my first session went very bad and that cannot be undone.
Packed my bags, flew back to India. Mixed feelings. The kind of personality I am and being a Virgo (a perfectionist), if I do bad, I will beat myself over it, again and again!
Looking at my scores of my second session, I was invited to speak at TechEd Europe in 2008 in Spain. I delivered a few sessions, all with good score and feedback. I probably learnt a lot of things speaking to global audience and was getting better & better.
And here, I want to thank Gunther Beersaerts, the then track owner for TechEd Europe 2008. It was indeed a pleasure working with him. He too was such a support and a fantastic human being!
And this was my first trip to Barcelona!
Back to TechEd North America, I did not get an opportunity after 2008. And probably it is justified, only the best of the best go to TechEd. And I thought I was not amongst the best! Well, that was a fact and I have to live with it. But I always thought, if I would have done better in my first session, would it be the same? May be not. And I always wanted another chance to prove that I could be one amongst the best, if not the best!
Not so easily, not so soon!
Year 2012, brought that news. I was selected as a speaker again. I was happy and I was determined to rock this time. And I think I got better as a speaker as time passed by. Time gives you more experience and more maturity.
I was back in Orlando, where it began from 🙂 – same hugeness. I remembered TechEd 2007 and how could I forget TechEd 2008? And I delivered my session on Indexes at TechEd North America 2012. How did it do? I scored 4.61 out of 5 and I came in top 3 speakers in Database track and 6th spot in SQL Server category (DB & BI combined). My track owner was happy and also blogged about it.
Virgo, you did it! My TechEd North America 2012 session video is here
So who was my track owner this time? None other than the only Dandy I know, Dandy Weyn. I am thankful to him, he believed in me and provided constant tips and encouragement.
Next came TechEd 2013 Europe at Madrid, Spain. Its TechEd again and glad to be a speaker again at TechEd. What a privilege to be performing well and getting selected again!
Lights, camera, action! And I delivered. My session on Indexes with refreshed content came in top 3 speakers in SQL Server category with some awesome comments. My track owner wrote to me that “I have a score to be proud of”. It was 4.72 out of 5 and some of the best comments I would have ever got from my TechEd audience. My TechEd Europe 2013 session video is here
Well, speaking at a global TechEd conference is my best speaking experience. It brings the speaker out of you. Very challenging and it’s an awesome learning experience. I will always cherish speaking at TechEd – it has taught me a lot. I believe I was privileged. And thanks again to all my track owners, once again. Someone apart from you has to believe that you can perform 🙂
Back at home, I delivered sessions at TechEd India 2009 & 2011. Thanks to MS India, DPE team, especially Sandeep Alur, Ramkumar Kothandaraman, Harish Vaidyanathan, Pradipta Sharma, Vinod Kumar & Abhishek Kant for again believing that I can add value to the TechEd audience. The joy and pleasure of speaking at home is always different.
Update: March 11, 2014
What a rare privilege, I speak at TechEd North America 2014. Once again. This will be my 6th appearance at a global TechEd and 8th overall. Thanks to Microsoft and my track owner, Dandy, once again!
Hope to do well this time too…
I look forward to your comments and do share the page if you liked the journey 🙂