SWUG began in 2016 as a largely-volunteer effort, cobbled together using spare time and budget by a core set of dedicated SolarWinds staff and THWACK fanatics. The effort hit its stride in 2017, standardizing the format, honing the style, and gathering data from attendees.
And then in 2018, all hell broke loose. SWUG went to more cities than ever before, presenting on a wider range of topics and inviting speakers from every corner of the SolarWinds organization, and even inviting some of our MVPs to take the podium and share their valuable knowledge and experience with the audience.
And it was that last part—the variety of speakers—that caused a very small but beloved change for me. As Head Geek, I had the best seat and the best job in the house: emcee. I got to introduce each of our speakers, frame their topics, and then stand back and watch in awe as each and every one of them brought the house down with their skills and knowledge.
The introductions themselves became something of a labor of love for me. This group of superstars needed more than a simple recitation of their name and title. They needed to have their praises sung and their accomplishments shouted from the rooftops so the SWUG attendees understood just what an incredible individual they had in front of them, and how deep the SolarWinds bench truly was.
However, in retrospect, I may have gone a bit overboard. But I'll let you be the judge. Because as we move into 2019, SWUG is once again evolving, and it might be time to set aside these introductions in favor of some new form (note: I say "might").
Nevertheless, I submit for your reading pleasure "A Year of SWUG Introductions", i.e. all the ways I introduced speakers at the 2018 SWUG events.
Consistency Is the Key
In many cases, I was remarkably consistent when we had regular speakers such as Chris O'Brien, Steven Hunt, and Kevin Sparenberg:
Chris had two main variations:
- A man whose name is literally part of the source code for NPM, who is known as the father of NetPath, PM Chris O'Brien.
- A man whose name is literally part of the source code for NPM, who had an Easter egg built in his honor, PM Chris O'Brien.
Similarly, Steven (aka "Phteven"):
- My kayfabe arch nemesis Steven Hunt, Windows fan boy, and Principal Product Strategist (Systems).
- My kayfabe nemesis and, conversely, my little Linux protégé, PM Steven Hunt.
And Kevin only had this one intro...
- The only person here who's landed gentry as well as a SolarWinds PM, a former customer, and a THWACK MVP, his Lairdship Kevin Sparenberg.
...until the very last one, because it was such a special moment for him:
- This year he's acquired more titles than some people change shoes. He's also the only person here who is both a member of landed gentry as well as a former customer, SolarWinds employee, and a THWACK MVP. Please help me congratulate him on his 10-year THWACKniversary and welcome our DM of community (or THWACKbassador), his Lairdship Kevin Sparenberg.
Variety Is the Spice of Life
For the UX team, I just kept doing variations on a theme:
- Combine the observational skills of Sherlock Holmes with the empathic skills of a Betazoid ship's counselor, you pretty much end up with our manager of UX, Tulsi Patel.
- Cross rainbows and sunshine with a Betazoid ship's counselor asking, "How does this wireframe make you feel?" and you pretty much have Kellie Mecham, User Experience Researcher.
- Combine the observational skills of Sherlock Holmes with a Betazoid starship counselor asking, "How does this wireframe make you feel?" and you pretty much have Katie Cole, User Experience Researcher
While at other times I was clearly at a loss
(admittedly, these all came from one of the first SWUGs where I barely did any introductions at all):
- On Drums, SE extraordinaire Mario Gomez.
- Director of Cinematography and Certification, Cal Smith.
- Itinerant food critic and Fed SE, Andy Wong.
- Chief roadie Kyle Lohren, video production manager.
For the guest MVP speakers, I tried to roll out the red carpet:
- From Atmosera comes a person who's been an MVP as long as I have: Byron Anderson
- From Loop 1, we have a programming force of nature and an avid learner of all the things, THWACK MVP Steven Klassen.
- When I was at Cardinal, Josh joined our team one month before I ended up getting the Head Geek job. He's had every right to punch me in the face, but I lucked out because he's not only Canadian, he's just an all-around amazing guy as well as a THWACK MVP, Josh Biggley.
- He began his IT career with a walk-on role in Star Wars, but now he divides his time between monitoring and specializing as a Mini Cooper stunt driver. Please welcome THWACK MVP Richard Phillips.
The “Bodyguard to the Stars” shtick ended up being a go-to for newcomers
(Those I may not have known well enough to tease):
- Bodyguard to the stars with top secret clearance, Federal and national Sales Engineer Sean Martinez.
- Bodyguard to the stars and former stunt driver for Tom Cruise, Federal Sales Engineer Arthur Bradway.
- Bodyguard to the stars, world-famous He-Man cosplayer, and Virtualization PM Chris Paap.
Saving the Best For Last
But for many folks, I let the originality flow:
- A pretty pink unicorn with rainbow painted brass knuckles and top-secret clearance, Head Geek Destiny Bertucci.
- Forget about knowing where the bodies are buried or who has the pictures. This person knows which NPM questions you got wrong – Nanette Neal, Program Manager for SCP.
- Formerly a Calvin Klein model, before he gave up fitted pants for NetFlow packets - Product Manager Joe Reves.
- Just like Locutus, it takes incredible willpower to escape the Borg collective known as the SolarWinds sales group, and yet Robert Blair did the impossible and is now our Customer Advocacy Manager.
- Whenever you see Tom Cruise doing a mountain climbing scene, you're actually watching his stunt double, Product Manager Serena Chou (they're about the same height).
- We sometimes find him sleeping in his car, not because he's fallen on hard times, but because he simply loves his Jeep that much. Please welcome Network Management Product Manager Jonathan Petkevich.
- Clocking in at 6'5", he's officially the tallest person in our department and therefore the most important to us because he can reach the really good Scotch up on the tall shelves - Senior web properties manager Ben Garves.
- Out at conventions he has fun playing the role of Patrick Hubbard's kayfabe arch-nemesis, but in the office, he's got veto power for every new feature or upgrade – Our VP of product strategy Mav Turner.
- In D&D one of the most interesting PC's is the multi-classed character. At SolarWinds we value our multi-class staff. She started out as a UX illusionist and is now part of our rogue’s gallery of product marketing managers -Katie Cole.
- What happens when someone with a degree in mechanical engineering takes a right turn at San Antonio and ends up at a software company? You get a product marketing manager who can tech you under the table. Lourdes Valdez.
Last But Not Least
And finally, as I have done at every SWUG this year, I'd like to introduce and Thank the people who make THWACK a reality every day:
- And of course, Ms. THWACKniss Everdeen herself, the heavenly source of THWACK point blessings, Community Cat Wrangler Danielle Higgins.
- And of course, the woman whose THWACK ID sends everyone into spontaneous giggles, who can repeat, from memory, every post ever banned from THWACK – Wascally Wendy Wabbot... I mean Abbot.
If you were able to join us for a SWUG this year, I hope this brought back some fond memories. And if you couldn't make it out to join us, I sincerely hope you'll have that chance in 2019. Read more from SWUG Head Master, Kevin Sparenberg, on what you can expect at these events this year.
Or just cut to the chase and join us for FREE at a SWUG in 2019: