First up to kick off the day was keynote speaker Matt Broberg from Red Hat. By the way, my older son Andy Braren now works at Red Hat, small world! Now back to the story.
Just a few minutes into Matt's presentation, I suddenly realized my face was up on the big screen. Yes, he was being nice to me. What an honor to hear some very kind words from Matt, sitting there among so many friends in the community, and knowing every face on the big screen personally. Matt was one of the very first "strangers" I met at a VTUG many years ago. I'm so glad I got to know him, thanks to Chris Harney inviting me to a VTUG after party many years ago, where I happened to sit right next to Matt. He quickly introduced himself to me, and quickly drew me and my story out of me, and I was immediately amazed by his conversational talents.
Matt has given me the fortitude to handle multiple job changes with his incredible Geek Whisperers featuring also-legendary John Mark Troyer (@jtroyer) and Amy Lewis (@CommsNinja) and I cannot thank them all enough for all the wisdom they've blessed me with, listening to their insightful podcasts while on the road. A lot.
I'm so glad I had a chance to thank Matt personally at this last VTUG for his shout out, and for all he's done for me and my career, which has thankfully moved head-first into hyperconverged infrastructure after my 21 years of all kinds of adventures at IBM.
Not only did Matt do this surprise shout-out, he inspired me years ago with sage wisdom. Don't just hang out at user groups with folks you know; make a point of reaching out to folks you don't know and help them get connected to the people you do know. Wise words. Always leads to good things.
At VTUG lunch I intentionally sat at a table full of strangers and introduced myself to the person seated across from me. He soon opened up to me, and shared that he was in the midst of his first job change after 20 years in IT with an offer from a particularly large vendor. I shared with him my stories of working for vendors, but quickly realized this guy needed some of Matt's far more insightful wisdom. After introducing my new friend, Matt sure asked all the right questions I wish I had thought of including what was motivating his job search. Matt soon invited this very sharp individual to join us in off-site conversations with Chris Williams (@mistwire) and a few others from the community. Collectively, we had a lot of candid first-hand stories to share. This kind of help is exactly what makes attending user groups so valuable, well beyond the usual vendor pitches and general career advice. This was specific data this guy needed to make an informed career decision.
I also had a chance to catch up with Chris Colotti, Josh Atwell, Luigi Danakos (now at VMware doing HCI!), and Sean Thulin, what a day! They're also featured in the videos below.
It's making potentially life-changing magic moments happen that are only possible in-person, and the VTUG helping make that happen in New England is something I'm forever grateful for.
Later on, reconnecting with NYC VMUG Leader Mike Martino (@wildcard78) was extra awesome, he's always been so very nice to guys like me and Mike Foley, who has presented at VMUG NYC with me, thanks to Mike Martino! One of the NYC VMUG leaders that Mike knows well now works at the same vendor as the guy thinking of working there. See how we're all interconnected? It's remarkable, the magic that happens when you break out of your shell and force yourself to get to know at least a few new people at every user group you attend. Something Matt inspired me to go about doing. Which I keep doing.
Below, you'll find a series of excellent interview by Stu Miniman (@stu) from SiliconANGLE theCUBE. Stu is one of my idols in the world of mad interview skills that I so covet, and he even interviewed me at VTUG! His personal conversations on camera make for a wonderful final tribute to all those who have benefited from the VTUG organization. They also bookmark the end of the great 16-year history of these twice-a-year legendary New England meetups: the Winter Warmer and the Summer Slam.
Thank you Dawn Harney, Chris Harney, and more recently Chris Williams for your many years of making it all happen! I even got to present on vSAN with my new VMware manager a couple of years back, what a joy, what an honor!
My wife, my kids, and even my mom thank you for some very fond memories of visiting lovely Freeport Maine for many summers, and for the incredible number of vendors and invaluable new friendships formed only because the VTUG existed. I even got to know some folks at Microsoft that typically wouldn't be at VTUGs, which was one of the unique strengths of the VTUG organization. For all that and so much more, I'm eternally grateful!
Farewell Chris and Dawn Harney, know that you've done so much good here!
- All VTUG mentions at TinkerTry.
- Attend VTUG Summer Slam 2016, your chance to choose a FREE TinkerTry'd Supermicro SuperServer Bundle 2!
Jul 19 2016
- How I landed on SiliconANGLE TV's theCUBE at VTUG Winter Warmer 2015 to talk about virtualization home labs and blogging
Jan 16 2015