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Cisco Live 2014: Dipping my Toes into the Social Side of Cisco Live

Trying out the Social Side this Year

New to CiscoLive? At some point we all were there.  The mixture of emotions, of course, is different for everyone.  For me?  Crazy excitement coupled with a huge dose of adrenalin and fear.

Why? Not only was Networkers 2006 going to be my first time ever going, I was going to be presenting.  

So in 2006 I pretty much just stuck to doing the two things I love and adore the most: teach sessions and met with customers individually.  Other than that?  (smile)  I really don't think there was much else. Just a matter of hours in the day and needing to pace it for the next full day of doing what I love. So pretty much I disappeared. Breakfast and dinner via room service. Routine was pretty much early to bed, early to rise. It probably looked a little something like this: wake up @ 5am, coffee, cardio, breakfast, teach sessions and meet with customers individually, hotel by 6pm, dinner, bed by 9pm.  Rinse repeat. 

Speaking of "rinse and repeat", that has pretty much been the routine for 8 years of CiscoLive US. No, I've never been to the Customer Appreciation Event. In 8 years I can count on 1 hand the number of times I have gone out to dinner.  I think also I've only been to two parties thus far - a CiscoPress party and the CCIE event in SanDiego.  For those wondering, yes, I was "dragged" to both, and yes, afterwards I was quite pleased that I had gone to those two events. 

Why Not the Social?

It always seems to be a surprise to some of my Cisco co-workers that I'm like this at CiscoLive. They find it kinda odd since I'm actually high energy, outgoing, and pretty much "out there". 

So why?

The super easy answer, which is ~99% of the reason, is really that it comes down to making sure I have "real" energy for those two things I love the most at CiscoLive: teaching and meeting with customers. CiscoLive is about you, the attendee. If you choose a session I teach, you deserve nothing less than for me to do the best I can.

So what is that other 1%? I think, for me, it's 2 things.

  • "The Mask" - I really like "just being me". It's probably one of the reasons I've stayed in my job in the Cisco Proof of Concept lab (CPOC) for over 13 years. I can just be "me" with everyone. Craziness, warts, hugs and all. It is a "safe" area to just be myself. Yes, even in front of customers who are strangers to me.  After all, their visiting "my home". I'm going to be just me in my home. (smile)  Cocktail parties?  Large gatherings?  I can get a little uncomfortable when I'm in large social settings with strangers.  Especially strangers that I think have a "preconceived notion" of who I'm supposed to be or how I'm supposed to act. Because of my being uncomfortable, there is just such a temptation to toss on "the mask", to "chameleon".   
  • "The Pedestal" - I'm not a big believer, personally, in anyone being "better" than anyone else. We are all in this "life" thing together.  Yes, some people might have more "certifications" than someone else. But I am personally not a believer that this makes that person "better" as a person than someone else.   So I have a bit of a hard time when people put me on a pedestal.  I feel really quite awkward about it. Truth be told, I'm human, and I will fall from any height higher than just being me.  But it is kinda funny I don't like being put on a pedestal.  Cause despite what I say about pedestals, I still put people on them myself. In 2012 in SanDiego I met Beau Williamson on the way to the CCIE party. Beau is who taught me multicast back in 2001 during a 5 day course at Cisco. I remembered him and I just thought he was just the neatest and coolest. So, in true "Denise" (aka "Fish") fashion, I dropped to my knees in the streets of SanDiego (yes, I really did) and transformed into a 14 year old girl who just came face to face with a teen idol of theirs.  Some time later Beau and I were talking the pedestal. I mentioned something about not liking being put on a pedestal. Yup. You guessed it. He pointed out that I did it to him just earlier that evening. Seems to be this human desire to want to have "role models" and put people "up" on a pedestal.  But the pedestal concept tends to then breed the "I'm better than you" mentality. I'm not real keen on that attitude.

Dipping My Toes into the Social World of CiscoLivemember of the Cisco Champion program.  

With all that said, why dip my toes into the Social World of CiscoLive? I think 2 reasons.  One is curiousity. The other is because I've been selected to be 

What is the Cisco Champion program?  I'm about a month or two into it, so I don't think I'm enough of an expert yet to answer that question.  So here are a few links:

So what about becoming a member of the Cisco Champion group has made me consider "dipping my toes" into the social world of CiscoLive?  

Well, I've been to a few virtual events thus far and everyone seems pretty cool.  Everyone's pretty "real" and I haven't once been tempted to be anything other than myself. No one in the program seems to think that being in the program makes them any better than anyone else.  So that's pretty cool.  

So it got me wondering something. Has it just been fear that has kept me from the social side? Fear of the unknown? Fear that I'll chameleon and not be myself?  Yea, I think so.  So I'm going to dip my toes in the water a little.

No, you still won't see me at the customer appreciation event. No, still doing pretty much the same "routine" so I'm rested and ready for meeting with YOU. But I think I'll go visit the Social Media Lounge for the first time ever.  Go check out the certification lounge. Maybe even sync up for coffees (love coffee) with groups of people.  Who knows?  Maybe blog afterwards about how the "toe dipping" experiment was.  Truth be told, I can't tell you the experiment will for sure go well.  I might dip my toe in, and then run away.  Who knows?  (smile)  

See you there!!!!

A little Extra for those New to Cisco Live

New to CiscoLive this year? I'm so happy for you that you are going!  CiscoLive is my favorite work week of the year.  For those of you who know a little about my day job in the Cisco Customer Proof of Concept lab (CPOC), you know this actually speaks huge volumes about CiscoLive.

The choices of what to do with your time while at CiscoLive seem to just get more and more for the attendees every year!  Something, honestly, for everyone!  But I can't talk to you, as you can see, about the social aspect of networking with people. 

So for those new to CIscoLive this year, I'm going to suggest going to the Cisco Live 2014 Blogs of Interest. This same page also has blogs from 2013 that are also still very relevant.  If this is your first CiscoLive ever, I would suggest Cisco Live 2014 – May 18-22 – San Francisco, CA – Jeff Fry @Fryguy_pa as well as Herding Packet's 2013 Cisco Live Tips.

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