I've spoken at Lotusphere three or four times over the years, and this year will be my fifteenth straight Sphere, a record equally by a fairly small crew and surpassed by an even smaller elite handful.
But even though I am for the first time paying my own way to Orlando this year, and the free registration that comes from speaking would have saved us a decent chunk of money, I thought about it a while and said, "nope."
This has been a problematic year at my day job. For many years, I worked with a management team made up of hands-on technical people who evolved into great technical managers, the sort of team a lot of people work a lifetime and never get to enjoy. In less than a year, that's all been demolished, as many of those technical managers retired and a reorganization shifted my team to where we are now controlled by a group of people whose primary experience and expertise is in the softer skills of a federal agency.
In short, we work for completely nontechnical management, and the world kinda sucks.
Couple that with what's likely to be a difficult budget year and a lot of local, parochial political games, and it was clear we weren't going to get approval to go to Lotusphere under the imprimatur of my day job. The enormous brain transfers, the high profile with a major vendor, the technical and professional and personal contacts that our previous fourteen yearsat Lotusphere brought us just doesn't seem to register on this management crew, even though several of them have actually experienced it themselves. The fact that my day job got much more out of sending us than they ever spent just doesn't seem to matter.
We're going anyway, of course. Just like tetanus, Lotusphere requires periodic booster shots, the little burst of immunity you need to work in a world of Microcentrists when you're miltantly not one. Without it, I'll probably fall over and die, quivering, so I need to go. The unspoken agreement I've had with my day job is that the year I have to take my own leave and pay for my own participation is the year I will look upon Lotusphere as professional development and job-hunting activities, and deduct them on my Federal taxes accordingly.
That's a loss for everyone, but mostly a loss for my day job.
So why didn't I try and see if I could get a speaker slot and save myself the $1895?
If I did that, I'd be focused on trying to make your Lotusphere experience as amazing as I could, in my own little way. I'd be tense about making sure my show was up to your expectations. I'd be hacking code till 4am the night before my show. I'd be up for weeks thinking about what I can do to make my 75 minutes memorable for you.
I can't afford to do that. I need to give myself a big recharge this year. For once, I need to focus on me. I've never done that in 14 years... I was either going to sessions I didn't much care about but which I went to because I knew it'd benefit my day job, or I was focused on my session in the years I spoke. And as you know, for many years, I put an enormous amount of energy into Gonzo Lotusphere, to benefit anyone it could benefit. Even the couple of dozen cow-orkers who went to Lotuspheres from my day job over the years.
I can't afford to do that.
2009 is my year, OK? I need to learn new things and not give a fuck if they benefit my day job. I need to go to sessions that interest me, not the ones that my organization might have an interest in. I need to evaluate my place in this business, and go seek something better if I can.
You won't see me up on stage this year, but you'll see me everywhere else.
If you think your session is something I can use, tip me off, OK? If your organization thinks it might benefit from somebody with the fire inside, someone who has spent all these years coming up with new and interesting approaches to technology, someone who believes in the right solution, not the expedient and safe fallback, grab me and talk to me about a job. If you just wanna pick my brain about our world, or just ask me where you can find a decent steak in Orlando, grab me.
Even in this year that's gonna be for me, I'm still there for you. But I am most definitely not there on behalf of my day job.
Let's see what happens.
1. Deb Latter09/30/2008 08:45:44 PM
Somebody ought to do you a t-shirt or something.
See you there!
I hear ya 100%. I'm going for the re-charge this year. No abstracts submitted from me either.
2. John Smart09/30/2008 10:47:30 AM
I wish you great luck at finding your next job, Turtle! Besides learning from you, you've been a great... landmark... one of those people who, when I see, I think "Oh, good, I'm in the right place." I hope you stay in the Lotus community in your next job.
3. Todd Carpenter09/29/2008 02:58:08 PM
So it's safe to assume that sushi and karaoke are still on for Kimono's?
Seriously, that happened to me in 2000. I went to Lotusphere and changed employers shortly afterward.
See you there!
4. Scott Gentzen09/29/2008 06:22:55 AM
Good for you. I might have to do that some year.
5. Keith Brooks09/28/2008 09:40:29 PM
Last year i thought would be my first paid trip, I split it with the company. This year, the company is paying, but it's my company.
Still submitted sessions, there are things to be said, taught or mentored for the masses, the free show is just a side benefit to me at that point.
Since you are free so to speak, please let me know if you can spare some time for the blogger's lounge. We will make you work for your freedom
6. Bob Baehr09/28/2008 12:07:53 PM
Hope I see you at Lotusphere - if so - first round is on me!
The Unofficial Poster Child For Lotus Notes, Domino, and Lotus Foundations
7. Jim Casale09/28/2008 06:54:56 AM
Much like Duffbert and many others I cannot see myself not going to Lotusphere. I find it refreshing to network with like minded geeks. I have never had the opportunity for a company to pay for Lotusphere, so consider yourselves lucky if you have had that luxury. The biggest issue aside from trying to budget for Lotusphere is to figure out what to put for company name when registering. I figure if the company I am working for is not paying for Lotusphere then they don't deserve the credit of having their name on my Lotusphere badge I solved my dilema very simply - Me Inc.
8. Turtle09/28/2008 01:41:30 AM
Anybody who has read my site pretty much knows that for me, I love getting BACK to work after Lotusphere because I'm so exhausted and need a vacation FROM the Sphere!
9. Duffbert09/28/2008 12:56:11 AM
It's great to see someone who values Lotusphere in that way, that *not* going is not an option. And on those rare occasions when work doesn't pay, you're willing, no... *eager*, to pay in order to experience the event.
I'm sure I'll get the joking "so the company's paying for your winter vacation this year, huh?" comments like I usually do (and they *do* no that it's not a vacation). I look forward to answering "no, I'm paying my own way because my career and professional development is *that* important", and then watching the glazed, stunned looks on their faces. :)