It’s late May 2019, which means I have been with SolarWinds for five years. That’s the second-longest employment in my life. I usually change jobs because of boreout, which happens when the employee engagement circle turns into an engagement spiral.
The good thing is; the chance of boredom here at SolarWinds is quite low, and this is the main reason:
That’s 38 badges, but not each trip “rewarded” a badge. I just checked our portal, and it shows 59 trips overall for me. Not bad, although for obvious reasons I visited Germany most of the time.
Some of these trips are still in my memory for various reasons. And that means a lot, as I tend to forget things the minute I turn around. Like… subnet calculation. I learned it, once. That’s all I remember.
So, let me walk down memory lane.
My very first trip (no badge, sorry) took place in October 2014, and I went to Regensburg, Germany, where one of our distributors, RamgeSoft, held a day event. I had worked with SolarWinds for just five months and was supposed to speak in front of an audience who knew more about our products than I did at the time… that was fun! I met our MVP HerrDoktor there for the first time.
The next memorable trip happened in May 2015, when we organized an event in Germany for the first time. I went to Munich and Frankfurt with a group of five: two ladies and two gentlemen from Ireland who had never been to Germany, and me. We travelled with a vice president and he rented a Mercedes for us, but I was asked to drive as, according to them, traffic is on the wrong side of the road. As they hadn’t been to Germany before, they obviously hadn’t seen a German Autobahn. For the uninitiated: there’s no general speed limit. I’ll never forget the VP sitting next to me shouting in a surprisingly high-pitched voice, “Sascha, I think that’s fast enough for me,” as I reached twice the speed limit of typical Irish roads. Well, I had fun, and the guys in the back had fun as well.
Now, here’s a badge:
October 2016 in Stuttgart, Germany.
I remember it as the most boring show I ever attended. I went there with a business partner, and it was just the two of us at the booth. Attendance overall was extremely poor. Think tumbleweeds. We started some innovative games with the other exhibitors to entertain ourselves, and I felt sorry for the attendees as everyone jumped at them, “PLEASE TAKE THIS PEN. AND THIS USB STICK. AND TAKE ME OUT OF HERE.”
I wanted to find out what became of that show, and I found an article from December 2016 stating they cancelled planning for 2017. “IT & Business” is no more. Rest in peace.
October 2016 in Berlin was my first event outside the private sector, all suited up! I wasn’t sure what to expect besides great food, as the event took place in Berlin’s most elegant hotel, but it turns out there isn’t much difference when talking to an IT pro working private or public—the problems are the same.
November 2016, a road trip to Germany with our distributor Ebertlang. For a week and a half, we travelled through the country, a different hotel each night, different venue, different people, but the same program each day. I began to understand how it feels for a musician to be on tour. My takeaway from this trip: waking up in the morning not knowing what city you’re in is weird.
Ah yes, February 2017, the mother of all trade shows! While CLEUR took place in Berlin the year before, this time, I was the only German speaker in the SolarWinds booth, and people were queueing to talk to me. Next, next, next. The customer appreciation event was celebrated with an old school techno act on stage, but for whatever reason, our group ended up in an Irish pub, and I have no idea when we left. Patrick, do you remember?
No badge for the next trip, Istanbul in April 2017. My colleague Ramazan and I arrived on a Sunday, and I was shocked the moment we left the airport; tanks and army presence everywhere. It was the evening of a special election in Turkey, and I was a little nervous. Scratch the “little.” Fortunately, besides a few fires here and there, nothing serious happened, and the trip was enjoyable. Istanbul is a beautiful city, and the food is fantastic.
April 2017 in Gelsenkirchen, Germany. This one was memorable as it is just 15 minutes away from where I was born and raised, and the city hosts the football team I supported while I was interested in football. Our partner Netmon24 organized the event, and the venue was an old coal mine that’s now a UNESCO world heritage site. The tour in the afternoon was cool. For whatever reason, I had never been there even though it was in my old neighborhood. I think we quite often ignore great things around us because we consider them as normal, without ever appreciating them.
September 2017 in Frankfurt, Germany The venue was the local football stadium (no, I never supported that team), and I remember it because we found a small black box behind our booth an hour or two before the show closed. We asked, “What is that?” and opened it. A HoloLens, if you could believe it. We went upstairs to ask the Microsoft guys if they had lost something, but they said it wasn’t theirs. We asked the on-site security manager if someone had asked for a HoloLens, and he just replied, “Holowhat?” So, we finally dropped it at the reception desk of the organizer. Just after we played with it for…a bit!
In October 2017 I was flying to Mons, Belgium. Or rather, I was supposed to, but Ophelia said, “You’re not going to leave the country.” I managed to leave Cork on the last bus to Dublin, and the driver was fighting to keep the bus on the road because of the wind. Can you imagine what strong winds they were to do that to a bus? That was quite a ride! By the time I arrived in Dublin, the airport had shut down. I stayed in Dublin overnight and managed to catch an overpriced flight the next morning, arriving at the venue an hour before the first day finished. Now, while writing, I just remembered one more thing: they had a DeLorean at the show grounds. Not just a random one, but one with a flux capacitor between the seats and the signatures of Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd. I loved it.
March 2018, Paris I lived in Paris from 2005 – 2007, and it took me ten years to return for a couple of days. The event itself was okay, quite busy, actually, but the usual problem in France is: if you don’t speak French, you’re lost, and I’ve lost most of my French in a decade. Mon Dieu. What makes this show unforgettable was the location: Disneyland Europe. Disneyland closed a little earlier that day and opened again just for the attendees of the trade show. That was amazing! No queues. I repeat: no queues. I probably saw more attractions in those 2 – 3 hours than a tourist could in a full day. Just great.
No badge (well, I had one, but had to return it): August 2018, my first visit to our headquarters, and my first one to the U.S. in general. First, the word “hot” should have more than three letters to express the heat in Texas. Just don’t add an H behind it, as that would be wrong in so many ways.
There is so much space everywhere. The roads are so wide. A single slot in a car park could fit three cars in Europe. I was seriously impressed. With the food…not so much.
October 2018, Dubai
GITEX was probably the most exciting show I’ve attended so far, as there was so much to see. It is a general technology show without a specific focus, just like the glorious days of CeBIT here in Europe. Unfortunately, the organizers didn’t provide badges that allowed me to join any of the talks as even they were much more interesting than usual. The city of Dubai is quite fascinating as well. The heat is like Texas, but most of the sidewalks are air-conditioned. Shiny, modern, and high-tech everywhere…if you stay in the city center. Outside; not really.
Oh, and before I forget: I went to Salt Bae. It’s entertaining. Look it up.
April 2019 in Munich Just a couple of weeks ago. Why will I remember that one? As we finished the presentations, the organizer invited everyone to a free-fall indoor skydiving event in a vertical wind tunnel. I had never done that before, and it was fun even though I wasn’t very talented, to say the least. A simple, but great experience.
Obviously, loads of other things happened, but THWACK isn’t the right audience to share them. Also, I don’t even remember how many flights got delayed, how often I’ve had to stay a night somewhere unplanned, and how often the French air traffic controllers were on strike.
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