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Synergy 2016 Las Vegas, CTP Style

by Thomas Kreidl, CTP, Steering Committee

Following up on the comprehensive blog that Sacha Thomet, a fellow freshly-minted CTP, published a few days ago along with the three days of Synergy reviews, I thought that rather than to recount similar experiences and go over the daily flow, that instead, I’d take a broader approach and talk more about generalizations rather than so many specifics that relate to the already-familiar hectic schedule. We also both preceded Synergy with a full two-day agenda in the CTP meeting. That was an intensive, but fascinating experience it itself, but the topic here is Synergy, so it’s time to get back on track.

This was my third Synergy, having co-presented at one back in 2013, and because – like Sacha – working to cover duties both as a CTP and member of the CUGC Steering Committee, you find yourself with way less time for either attending sessions or pursuing less formal events such as checking out vendor exhibits, peeking into the Citrix Sandbox or talking to countless individuals and groups about topics of mutual interest. In my case, I also had a number of semi-formal meetings to attend with folks from Citrix and NVIDIA and also was an invited panelist on the Educational Birds of a Feather session. I took on one day of hosting a Table Talk session that was very interesting, especially since those of us in education seem to have very similar goals and concerns, not surprisingly, a main one being how to make the most out of limited funding.

This all left time to attend one stage presentation and around 2.5 sessions (one of which was the I-cannot-miss-this Daniel Feller 90-minute PowerPoint marathon on XenApp and XenDesktop technical updates that was ostensibly packed full of very interesting and useful information. I’m an analytics guy, so numbers and graphs really strike a chord with me.).

Thus far, things don’t seem all that different other than lots of meetings, so what really made this meeting different?

I’d like to start with discussions, which ranged from fellow CTP and CUGC members to professionals in many different areas and roles. Synergy is a goldmine of information and one that one eventually learns to excavate for information. Having access to some of the smartest minds and pools of knowledge is a unique opportunity. Simple conversations can lead to all new insights and a bevy of lightbulbs all going off as a sudden inspiration starts to congeal. It’s also about seeing old friends and making new ones and parlaying ideas into plans. It’s about appreciating that you don’t know nearly as much about a lot of things as you think, and hence is also a humbling experience. At the same time, it’s about being able to contribute something you do know to help someone out.

Along the same lines, networking is a fantastic opportunity at Synergy. Whether you’re looking for like-minded souls, meeting old friends, searching for a new job, or want to get engaged in a group of like-minded (or even differently-minded) individuals, this is a great venue. Some sessions target specific audiences and that’s a good spot to look for such candidates. Try to memorize the faces of audience members who ask really good questions and find them after the talk is another good tactic. Eavesdrop on conversations and if they sound interesting, politely interrupt and introduce yourself. You are far from being alone, as many attendees are searching for the same sorts of answers and connections are you are. I got some great insights even at the farewell event Thursday night.

Next up is observations. Wow, is there a lot to see and experience: vendors, demonstrations, talks, and of course the Citrix Sandbox. Let’s not forget the amazing community outreach and Simply Serve volunteer programs. Some of the best and most touching stories came from those who spent time working with kids to teach them about IoT and computer technology. They are the hope for a better future and what a great way to be able to help nurture that. The Citrix Sandbox was a very engaging opportunity to engage and interact with Citrites and ask anything and everything imaginable.  How great to be able to suggest trying something and turning that discussion into actually creating that scenario and witnessing it really happen on the spot. If you have issues getting technical information talking to sales representatives over the phone or via email, this is the place to be as most vendors have really knowledgeable folk on-hand whom you can ask all your tough questions and get details on products that typically cannot be found in a brochure or online.

Socializing is a big part of Synergy. I always lament that there is never enough time to talk to people about anything and everything, and not only restricted to technical topics. You learn a lot about companies by experiencing them though the representation afforded by their employees. This is a opportunity to build some amazing bridges and alliances and to test the waters to see how receptive or not certain ideas or desires might be. It’s also a reminder that we as human beings are all vendors and consumers and a part of doing business is establishing relations and trust with each other. That and for those involved in the Citrix community, it is a chance to also express the wishes and concerns of community members as a whole, to act as a representative and an advocate. The voice and the pen can be powerful tools.

Expect the unexpected. One aspect of a meeting like this is you never know what you might run into or experience that proves to be a potential game-changer. I was accosted by several individuals who just wanted to say “hi” and always feel obliged to give what I can in terms of feedback, if possible. One such encounter led to an hour-long late-night discussion. It’s not always about yourself; if you have something to give, offer your knowledge to those around you, whether or not you’re looking for actual business opportunities. Much of what you’ll take away will be far more valuable long-term than any of the swag you are able to collect.

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