A month ago I got an invitation from the local chapter of Startup Grind to speak about 356labs, my story and the presentation world. It was a long, but incredibly interesting and more importantly honest conversation.
Microsoft Ignite 2016 is the biggest, most important yearly conference in the world! A conference that is attended by more than 20 000 people (yes, you read that right) and has the best (and in hundreds) speakers from the whole world.
This year, after not being accepted last year, I am happy and feel privileged to share that I(and respectively 356labs) were accepted to speak at Microsoft Ignite 2016.
My sessions are the following:
Wish me good luck and to all of my friends in Bulgaria – we will organize an event immediately after I come back from Ignite in order to share the overall experience and the leanings. I think it would be useful to everyone in the speaking / presenting community.
Update 1: Obviously, my first session got some serious attention because just a few days ago Microsoft asked me if it would be possible for me to deliver it twice in order for them to be able to handle all of the attendees that want to see it. Of course, I agreed without even thinking about it.
Update 2: At the end of the day, Microsoft were not able to organize the repeat of the session, but actually put my name on another one for Hybrid Cloud Storage. I am addressing this issues from the first time I noticed it (second day of the event) and up until now (October 5th) it’s still there.
Update 3: The main take away from the conference now. Here’s the thing. Microsoft Ignite is probably one of the biggest conferences in the world. With 25 000 attending it is seriously hard for you to imagine how much people this actually is, how many rooms there were and what’s more interesting – how you organize breakfast and lunch for so many people. The latter was done just incredibly well and to be honest, almost everything at the conference was on a very high level. The expo area had almost 2000 companies you can network with and the sessions were more than 1400.
As for my sessions:
The first one started a bit problematic as the display on which I was presenting died just when I connected to it. 5 people from MSFT were trying to fix it for almost 10 minutes with no success and I thought it’s Game Over and they will cancel the session. However, they made it work magically and I was able to start. The talk went perfectly well and there was some serious interest after it! Here are the resources I used together with the slides:
The second one that was on Sway went completely smooth! No issues what so ever and yeah, as it was 95% demo, there are not that many slides. However, the key takeaways are there, so sharing them here just for info:
What else can I say? I am already looking forward to Microsoft Ignite 2017 in Orlando!
Forgetting that meetings in an enterprise environment are different.
A few months after I launched 356labs, we were invited on a meeting with the CHRO (Chief Humman Resources Officer) of one of the biggest telecommunications company in Bulgaria because they were interested in the presentation design service we offer + a training on a storytelling.
Great, right? Indeed it is great to hear that companies that big have interest in your services. The problem was that I understood from the person who invited us that “we were only about to meet with CHRO”. Whatever that meant in my mind…
What I completely forgot is how corporate works. And I have worked in a corporate for 3 years. I should have remembered…
In a corporate environment and when you have a C-level executive with you on a meeting, you should have a really important word in mind — time. Because time is precious to those individuals(and to everyone of us nowadays), there is a pre-defined agenda, let’s call it, on meetings like this. So even though I thought we are “going to just meet”, the 30 minute meeting didn’t exactly go like this.
When the CHRO arrived at the room, she was one of those executives that displays 0 emotions on her face. Normal for the corporate world, I told myself. The interesting part was just about to start, though. She sat on her chair and directly fired her 1 question at me and that question and my respective answer screwed up the whole meeting. What she asked was something really simple and something that I should have expected knowing we are in such environment:
What is the goal of this meeting? — she asked.
This question, for some reason, threw me off guard. I don’t remember what exactly I responded, but let me promise you that I didn’t answer in the below fashion:
We are here to help you communicate more effectively. It really is that simple. We know and understand your presentation challenges and we are happy that you invited us because we are the team that you are looking for.
That… was not my answer and because it was not my answer all that followed was… not as good as it could have been.
The moral of the story — make sure you know what to expect on every meeting and prepare well. And I mean very well.
Have you been on a customer meeting which didn’t go as you expected it?
Believing and relying on partners to find us work.
A month before I officially announced 356labs, I was reached by a friend of mine who works on a very senior role at a training & consulting company. Their clients are the biggest and most renowned companies in the country — from banking institutions to huge IT and telecom organizations.
We met and I shared him the services and the trainings that we were about to offer and he immediately decided they want to partner with us for the trainings. The reason? We agreed that we will split 50/50 — they find the customer and provide the logistics, we deliver the training.
Great! — I said to myself. That’s big!
8 months later non of our trainings were sold by them. What’s more, they were not even able to upload our training portfolio on their web site for this time even though we gave them all the information needed — they just had to copy — paste it…
So now imagine that we were, for some reason, completely dependent on them? I personally can’t. That’s why, after allowing them for 2 months to figure out how they would sell our trainings(again — they will get 50% of those!), I decided to move forward and start pushing all the sales by myself. I told that if at some point they “figure it out” and bring us a customer, that would be great, but I don’t have the time to wait for anyone’s help. 356labs needed money in order to survive and someone had to… figure out how to make those money. Guess who this guy was.
So my lesson for you is this one — partnerships are great thing to have, but as Guy Kawasaki says:
Focus on sales.
It’s a podcast after podcast, after podcast! This time I was invited by a friend of mine from the SQL Server community – Chris Bell to talk about my shift from the world of databases to the world of presentations and presentation design. We chatted for an hour and discussed a ton of things around what it takes to become a successful speaker and how to create stunning slides that differentiate you as a presenter. I shared quite some really practical advises, so go ahead, click the link and enjoy listening!