G2G (Geek2Geek) is the new B2B!

Howdy from Houston!  Let me first apologize about the informal tone of this post, but I needed to get out some thoughts about this year’s cPanel Conference. Here’s the scoop from my perspective:

I made a few promises to myself going into this conference:

  1. I’d arrive at both keynotes 30 minutes early and at no time during their delivery would I fall asleep.  (Completed, FTW.)
  2. At no time during the conference would I engage in an exhibit hall battles (Failed, and damn you SoftLayer rockets and Black Lotus flying monkeys.)
  3. I would avoid going crazy and robbing the cPStore of cool swag items to impress peers. (Mission failed, but I did make it to day two!)

As luck has it, the one goal I did get off my conference bucket list was attending the keynote sessions and learning from two people (and their brand) whom I totally respect.

Tuesday morning, 9:25 a.m. – 
I think to myself….”What’s that strange sounding alarm going off, and why won’t it stop?”  BECAUSE it’s mine!  Shower.  Dress.  Brush teeth.  Find coffee.  Find more coffee.  Find Nathan Day.  Mission completed.  Remind myself that falling asleep during the keynote while sitting in the front is not good for return business.  And… done.

10 a.m.
Nathan Day was first to bat.  Although telling his story wasn’t the topic of the session, he walked us through his perspective of SoftLayer and the lessons he’s learned along the way.  I enjoyed hearing the SoftLayer story from Nathan’s angle.  Nathan is one of a handful of chiefs who participated in numerous buyouts and mergers and is one of the great legends in the web hosting industry.  With both an impressive background in history and his direct involvement with the SoftLayer startup, Nathan shed some light on successful management and startup wisdom.

Much like cPanel, SoftLayer prefers automating tasks versus expending human capital, and Nathan taught the crowd what it takes to go from zero to a billion-dollar company.  It is refreshing to hear the SoftLayer story from various members of the team, and while similar in nature, each individual member of the team has a slightly different take.

11 a.m.
cPanel Conference is definitely in full swing. The hall was full of exhibitors and attendees.  People were Da$h’ing for cPCache, and the cPanel employee booths were open and ready for business.  I snatched a dog tag from Customer Service, saw cPanel University getting assaulted, and stopped by to watch Jerett and James show off some classy UI’s.

12:30 p.m.
Lunch.  Meeting.  And another meeting.  Coffee… and it’s time to find Troy with Attracta.  We just signed a sizable deal to integrate them into cPanel & WHM.  Troy and I opted to sign in-person at the cPanel Conference since it’d be more fun.  Found him.  Troy!  Pens out.  Signature taking place and…. dated.   Troy’s turn.  Rinse.  Wash.  Repeat.  Contract signed.  Press release being sent.

Man, this day flew by.  It’s 4:30 p.m. and things at the cPanel Conference are winding down.

6:45 p.m.
Off to Pecan Street for dinner.  Front table selected.  I get to hang with Jason Silvergate and a handful of cPanel employees.  Cheesy chicken, yum.  Double up on the carbs and protein to prepare my body for another night of torture.  Find Diane.  Pay the bill.  Off to Roail.

8:45 p.m.
Tuesday evening went off without a hitch.  Like you, I was thinking, “Man, I hope this isn’t another Dan Band experience.”  As a result, we thought it was time to up the ante and redeem our show-stopping, jaw-dropping, over-the-top parties – and we did.

Greet cool people from SingleHop (yo yo Andy Pace), SoftLayer (Nathan Day in da haus), Resell.Biz (woot to Team NJT—Nick, Judah, Terry), HostDime (with their own break dancer), HostGator (with the unusual suspects), BuycPanel (Lance, Tim, and the gang) and the rest of the Web Hosting Mafia (names to be released at a later date).  If I forgot anyone, it’s not my fault.

Fire dancers, Storm Troopers, The Space Rockers (awesome band), an open bar, and a slew of Web-hosting Geeks with no bedtime made for a great first evening. The first night in a nutshell – no one got burned, the Dark Side was defeated, and I lost my voice from cheering at the band and drinking weird concoctions. w00t!

In bed by 3:30 AM.  Great Success!
Operation Blastoff resulted in copious amounts of enjoyment, making the next morning a battle.

It’s Wednesday, 8 a.m.
Alarm clock says: Welcome to October 12th!  It’s 2011!   Back to it

9:45 a.m.
Ditlev was second man up – day two, keynote two.  Upon landing in Austin, TX, he started working on his talk.  The good news- he’d actually been thinking about his topic for some time and only had to filter down the best ideas to fit into the given 60-minute time frame.  If you’re a shared hosting provider, I’d highly suggest getting to know Ditlev on both a personal and professional level.  He’s one of the great innovators in this industry.

Ditlev taught me the word “geek” doesn’t really mean computer nerd but a group of like-minded individuals who share similar interests and are passionate about them.   More importantly, he gave some tasty thought nuggets about selling to geeks, the mass market, and late adopters.  I realize I’m more likely on an average day to have a G2G (Geek to Geek) transaction, versus a B2B (Business to Business) one.  Hooray for having the world’s best job.  

10:50 a.m.
Ditlev just delivered the state of the union address – it’s time to make the rounds.  Blast into the Exhibit Hall.  Lunch with KB and Johnny from CentOS.  Meet with Open-Xchange.  Meet with GlobalSign.  Meet with Logaholic (Log File Geeks).  Picture with Igor and Marv from CloudLinux.  SoftLayer rocket war.  Rob cPStore of more watches, and sunglasses.  Send Dan Ushman packing back to Chicago.

I lost track of time, but the day is over. I have no idea what the moral of my story is or why I though it’d be better explained in an informal way.  What I will say is, we proved at the cPanel Conference that it’s totally possible to harmonize education, learning, business networking, and non-stop partying into a single, awesome event.

So, until we meet again next year, I want to give a special thanks to our kick-ass exhibitors and sponsors, not just for helping make this happen, but for being as passionate about it as we are!