Gloriously unstuck

That didn’t take long. There is nothing, I guess, that makes me happier than putting puzzle pieces together. Of course, there remains a lot of analysis and work to be done. But through the haze of exhaustion I am feeling tremendously excited …. At least about work.
So my last whirlwind week of living out of a suitcase, at least for a while. Monday was Seattle where I caught up with two ex-coworkers who now work for Microsoft. It’s actually quite amusing in a way, the scale of the operations these guys are running or working with. Oh, you know, 500 people working for you, oh, just working on software that a gazillion people use every day …. Just another day at the office. Amazing. Well, I promised next time I’m in the area to come and spend more time and reminisce about the old days at Jeeves. I won’t say good, I won’t say bad, because they were kind of both.
Monday night I flew to San Francisco then drove down to Sunnyvale where I had a late night Skype call, followed by falling into bed because I had to be up at 6am or so to drive up to the city. I still hit traffic and arrived late to the conference I was attending.
Now this conference, called the Wireless Broadband Association Global Congress, is kind of just that. It had CEOs and execs of all manner of companies that relate to Wi-Fi and wireless communications, so it was a great networking opportunity for me. I had a couple of names of people I should look for coming in but at the end of the day I didn’t know anyone, so it was a bit of an uncomfortable situation for me.
I’m a strange character …. I’m shy until I’m comfortable, then I’m anything but. In this case, I didn’t really have a choice. Attending the conference was not cheap, and you’re not going to get your money’s worth by sitting and listening to presentations (although in a way it was actually worth it from that perspective alone). For me, networking is a joy if I’m in the mood. If I’m not …. I really can’t do it at all. At least I’m pretty good at getting myself into the zone; it just takes energy to be charming and outgoing when you don’t know a single person.
What can I say? Not only did I have a great time and learn a lot but, for the most part, I did what I had to do. There are a few companies I didn’t get a chance to speak with but they are ones we already have a relationship with. And I did make some quite interesting new acquaintances. Some of the guys I found just really really interesting as people: one product marketer ex-physics major and likely soon-to-be author in particular; we spent the entire pre-awards dinner drinks pretty much ignoring everyone else. New friends are always fun!
I did also manage to go out drinking with some of the friends of the guy who had my job before me. I met them at 4pm on the second day of the conference and by 9pm we were happily drinking martinis. Good fun, including laughing at a decapitated Christmas tree. What was not so much fun was the next morning when I had a hangover so bad I could barely move my head. Oh my word. Well, hell, I deserved every second of that headache.
My one regret other than the aforementioned hangover was the timing of the conference, because Tuesday November 6th was election day in the USA, and as I was on the west coast all the results came in early in the evening given my time zone. I had so been looking forward to being in America for the election because the Presidential election is like nothing else …. You sit there, with your friends/family, and watch the states be ‘called’ as red or blue, Republican or Democrat, in this case, Romney or Obama. You watch the electoral count, and, in recent years, all sorts of statistics to make a numbers nerd get excited.
This year I missed all of it, because I was working. Well, networking, if you can call that working, at a rooftop bar at the Clift Hotel. Right about when I wanted to leave to go to Cathleen’s election night party was when I was introduced to the people who were two of the most valuable connections I made the entire conference. And, as we were standing there talking about Cape Town, and ice hockey, and tailgating, someone loaded up CNN on the smart phone and we saw that the election had been called. Just like that.
I got home just in time to see Romney’s concession speech, eat some totally non-paleo food, and then watch Obama’s victory speech. It was actually quite emotional for me for a couple of reasons. I was happy Obama won. I was sorry I missed all the fun. I was sorry that I’m not actually living in America to experience the results of this election, although I did cast my ballot proudly (my district had a 75% turnout, by the way, which is impressive). I was missing Cape Town like crazy. I was also missing living in San Francisco, and going to parties on rooftop bars, and watching football, and being within a few hours flight of friends, family, …
Then came Thursday! I was meant to train with my friend from Jeeves days but when I went to bed at like 4:30am that was clearly not going to happen. I did manage to rouse myself for lunch up in beautiful Marin with another ex-colleague who has worked in sales his entire career and is another guru. He gave me quite a few great tips all for the low low price of a California roll and an iced tea. But there’s nothing like talking about sales to get me excited, even with a headache so bad that I could barely eat my food. Good heavens.
Afterwards, I went to a Starbucks for the free Wi-Fi which wasn’t really free because I indulged in a $5 gingerbread soy latte even though I know the sugar and the soy are not optimal but damn, it’s a treat every once in a while. I needed the Wi-Fi because I had a conference call to review the new version of an interesting mobile app … good stuff.
Then I drove down to Sunnyvale for an after-hours meeting with one of the companies I’d met at the conference. Now I was impressed: firstly, that you could schedule the day before a meeting for 6pm. Secondly, that when I was caught in traffic (it took me two hours to drive from Sausalito to Sunnyvale!!) they were gracious that I was a half hour late, AND managed to bring a South African product manager to the meeting just so I’d feel at home (ok, ok, he also happened to be a logical person to include). Now there’s a company that’s hustling. I love it!
Afterwards I had a dinner meeting in Mountain View with another potential partner, and the CEO there is a very interesting guy. Young, smart, dynamic, confident, driven. Good stuff. We have some fun people in our industry.
Then I went to the airport where the TSA confiscated my canned pumpkin that I was trying to bring home for my friend Amy. Apparently it counts as a liquid. Unbelievable. But I was too tired to argue. I was so tired, in fact, that I slept through almost all of my Virgin America flight and was aroused when the plane landed in JFK five and a half hours later.
From there, I met an interesting guy who was kind enough to let me hop into his taxi to midtown: a personal tax consultant out of London for one of the big consulting firms, and he just happens to specialise in tax situations for high net worth Americans who live overseas. Not that I’m high net worth or anything, but maybe some day! So I took his card, and then we found a Starbucks. Because that’s what one does before one finds a Dunkin Donuts.
I was in the city to run some errands, wound up feeling like I’d won the lottery although in some ways I most definitely hadn’t won anything at all, and after I finished, headed back to the airport. I was again so exhausted that I napped on the bus to the airport. I don’t GET this tired. I blame the martinis.
A few hours later I was reunited with my family in Vermont. Happy days! I think, I was so tired I can’t quite remember. But considering that I’m returning to South Africa shortly I wanted to spend the rest of my time with my family, as one does.
So all in all, a relatively quiet weekend. I even took most of Saturday off from work but then again I didn’t have a choice because I was still exhausted. This living out of a suitcase, not eating properly, not sleeping well, not training, etc has most definitely taken its toll.
But whatever issues I may have had last week are over now. My health & training will sort itself out; competition season starts in 10 weeks or so, so ….time to get serious. Soon. Just to be back in my home, with my normal food, and training, I cannot wait!!
If it’s possible, I’m even more excited now about my company and my job than I was a week ago. The trick now, is making the right choices that don’t box us in, and executing as rapidly as possible.
I’m also excited to be getting home in time for some fun stuff: Southern hemisphere Thanksgiving, a friend’s birthday, a powerlifting comp, a summer camp for business people, company holiday party, and a few other things.
This is going to be fun.
  • “I see now why they’re called Ruckus.” – Ellie
  • “Some …. Handle noisy environments better than others.” – Andy
  • “Hurricane Sandy did us a big favour.” – Michael
  • “I know you’re a believer. You work for a startup.” – Shadi
  • “So do we.” – Mark [spend the majority of money on drugs/alcohol, transport, and telecommunications]
  • “They’re French.” – David  
  • “One.” – Steven
  • “Two months? How is it that you’re sitting at this table, then?” – Nigel
  • “I work until I go to bed.” – Zach
  • “I will stab you if you do that again!” – Cathleen [I had it coming!]
  • “So he’s American.” – Alex
  • “I feel like I just won the lottery!” – Ellie
  • “You were a snob.” – Mom [still am; just smarter about it now]
  • “Easy, and easy for you are two different things.” – Mom
  • “I don’t think he was expecting Romney to lie quite that much.” – Cyrus [on Obama in the first debate]


One comment

  1. It's good grabbing a snippet out of your life every once in a while… more than facebook gives, but less than your face! If you know what I mean 😉 looking forward to catching up soon…

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