Cisco Live 2014 – Recap

CLUS Social Media

Cisco Live Twitterati and Social Media Rockstars

Cisco Live 2014 was a rollicking fun ride from start to finish this year.  Lots of people to see and things to do.  The social media aspect of Cisco has come full circle as well.  No longer are social folks trying to borrow chairs at lunch tables or finding spots to camp out for keynotes.  Social is integrated into everything now at all levels.  And that’s because of the people.  But I’m getting ahead of myself here.

The Places

Cisco Live seemed a bit spread out this year.  But that’s not the fault of Cisco.  It’s because Moscone wasn’t designed to handle an influx of people like this.  Who has a 25,000 attendee convention?  Cisco Live overwhelmed the place.  You couldn’t walk on the streets without seeing CLUS badges.  Mel’s Drive-In was packed every day.  Moscone was built for a day when 10,000 people was a lot.  Now it’s just too small.  Sessions spread across three buildings.  People loading for the keynote through the tunnels.  Moscone needs an upgrade before CLUS comes back again.

That being said, the location of the Social Media Hub (upgraded to the Social Media Routed Bridge on Foursqure) and the Tweetup area were spot on this year.  Right inside the doors at Moscone South.  Easy to find.  Great to hangout within.  Easy access to keynote monitors.  Except for the ever-present DJ, it was close to perfect.  Seeing how the  hub has grown really makes me proud.  Social is starting to be a bigger part of everything. And that’s because of the people.

The People

People make the event.  Plain and simple.  Cisco Live is like the biggest family reunion you’ll ever get to attend.  Catching up with old friends.  Meeting new ones.  Staying out until the wee hours of the morning discussing routing design with four people you met two hours ago.  Those are the kinds of memories you won’t forget any time soon.

This year was packed with greatness.  People that wanted to get involved.  People that helped make the event bigger than it’s ever been.  The first introduction of the Cisco Champions at Cisco Live.  The Tech Field Day roundtables.  Even walking the show floor and bumping into friends working the booths.  That shows me that the power of a single person on Twitter or on a blog is starting to have a huge impact on the perception of a brand.

One voice makes a difference.  One person can influence a group and bring about change.  Sometimes it’s small, like getting getting friends to meet up to got to lunch.  Other times it’s the CLUS Scavenger Hunt, where dozens of people competed for prizes.  Still bigger is the Sunday evening tweetup, where 150 social media rockstars showed how powerful our voices can be.  It’s important to remember that people are watching the things you say.  You can have an impact.  When you realize that, you’ll know just how powerful you can truly be.

Tom’s Take

I was talking with Amy Lewis (@CommsNinja) during the Customer Appreciation Event about how far we’ve come since Tom’s Corner just a few years ago.  In fact, we took a pic that someone remarked “made us look like proud parents”.

AmyTom

We are proud parents.  But only because our kids, namely you, have shown everyone how to make it on their own in the crazy social media world.  We’re a community now.  This isn’t a club or a clique.  This is about awesome people coming together to be a part of something greater.  That’s what gestalt means.  We’re greater than the sum of our parts.  Cisco Live is our chance to shine.  Sure, we have goofy jokes.  We give each other bats and t-shrts and tiaras.  But that’s because we want to show each and every one how important they are.

Every year we have more people at Cisco Live.  We have more and more people joining the community.  But we also have those that can’t make it back for one reason or another.  They are always missed.  But it does show everyone how the community keeps going every year.  And that’s what makes me the most proud.  That the community can and will endure.

Thanks to everyone that said “hello” during Cisco Live.  Thanks also to Cisco and their great staff for making CLUS 2014 so amazing.  We always appreciate everything you do for us.  Next year in San Diego is shaping up to be epic again.  Let’s make our voices heard once more!

The SDNicorn

SDNicorn and the CLUS Princess

SDNicorn and the CLUS Princess

Cisco Live is a conference full of characters. Larger than life people like Scott Morris (@ScottMorrisCCIE) and Terry Slattery. Even I’ve been known to indulge in the antics sometimes. Remember the tattoo? This year, I wanted to do something a little different. And with some help from Amazon I managed to come up with one the best and worst ideas I’ve ever had.

The SDNicorn

Why a unicorn head? It’s actually an idea I’ve had for Networking Field Day for quite a while. The Wireless Field Day folks already have their own spirit mascot: the polar bear.

GlassPolarBear

I wanted to give the networking folks their own mascot. What better animal than the unicorn? After all, when things just seem to happen for no reason, who says it isn’t because of unicorns? In addition, Amy Lewis (@CommsNinja) of Cisco is a huge unicorn fan. If you’re going to go for something, go all the way right?

The SDNicorn Rides Again

When I pulled the mask out at the Sunday evening tweetup, it got a huge round of applause. People started lining up for pictures with me. It was a bigger reception than I could have hoped for.

Bn-pIhACIAIcevP

I thought it would have a few laughs then I would retire the unicorn head until the next day. That’s when it took on a life of its own. I started looking for picture ideas. Rob Novak (@Gallifreyan) got a picture of me drinking an energy drink.

Bn9iuY0CYAAs9hY

It is unicorn fuel after all. The best part came when a random group of Cisco interns shooting video for an executive event asked me to put on the mask for a quick pickup shoot. That’s how you know you’ve made an impact.

The rest of the event was just as fun for me. I wore it to the CCIE party when Amy Arnold (@AmyEngineer) got a great shot of me enjoying wine.

853790947

George Chongris (@th1nkdifferent) got a nice selfie too.

BoIWUaKIAAAkf6d.jpg-large

A few people even remarked that I was a little bit scary. I took the mask down to the World of Solutions and ran into Mike Dvorkin (@Dvorkinista), where he proceeded to borrow the mask and trot around the WoS asking for hay. I was doubled over with laughter the whole time.

BoGD514IgAABf0M.jpg-large

I also got J. Michael Metz (@DrJMetz) to admit that Dynamic FCoE is really powered by unicorns.  Hat and all.

BoHnH-OIAAIN6WO.jpg-large

The Customer Appreciation Event had to be the highlight, however. I wore the mask with the CAE hat of course. But people started borrowing it to do other things. Bob McCouch (@BobMcCouch) got a great shot of Kale Blankenship (@vCabbage) in the mask enjoying a beer.

BoNln58IEAAwBSy

James Bowling (@vSential) was a highlight with his cloud-powered video too.

Tom’s Take

I admit the unicorn was a bit silly. But it was memorable. People have been tweeting about it and writing articles about it already. I plan on bringing the SDNicorn to Networking Field Day 8 this fall as well as VMworld in August. I think this idea has a bit more life left in it yet. At least I’m covering something up instead of showing off again, right?

BoInJcTCQAAbm2u.jpg-large

Cisco Live 2013 CAE – Don’t Stop Believing

CiscoLive2013Logo

Cisco Live 2013 is coming to you this year from Orlando, FL.  After a 5-year absence, everyone’s favorite networking company on Tasman Drive returns to the Sunshine State to bring information and discussion to legions of network rock stars with Open Arms.  However, all work and no play makes networkers very dull.  That’s why there is an event to make us all feel appreciated.

What would Cisco Live be without the Customer Appreciation Event (CAE)?  In the past six years that I’ve attended Cisco Live, I’ve been a part of some very exciting times.  Watching Devo in the middle of San Francisco Bay.  Seeing KISS in Anaheim.  Watching the Barenaked Ladies on stage at the House of Blues in Orlando.  There’s always fun to be had and good time all around at the CAE.  This year promises to be no exception.

Universal entry with Cisco logo

The 2013 Customer Appreciation Event is going to be held inside Universal Studios Florida!  I had a great time in 2008 wandering around the Universal backlot.  I got to ride the rides, see the Back to the Future DeLorean, and watch an awesome concert.  It’s nice to have access to such a wonderful theme park and it’s super nice of them to host 10,000 invading nerds looking for geeky t-shirts and lots of pictures next to the T-800 outside the Terminator 3-D ride.  I’m going to make sure to bring an extra poncho again this year just in case we get one of those famous Florida thunderstorms, but I hope the rain holds off long enough for everyone to have a good time. With all the available attractions at Universal Studios Florida, there’s almost too much to do in one evening.  Really, there’s a good time to be had pretty much Any Way You Want It.  And that’s not even taking into consideration the star attraction for the CAE.

The headline band for the CAE always generates a lot of buzz.  Whether it’s KISS, the B-52s, or Weezer, people want to see the best.  The attendees Faithfully come to the CAE to be entertained.  In the last couple of years, Cisco Live has given fans the opportunity to vote on the headline band for the CAE.  This year’s vote was a close one that included some great artists like Beck and Jane’s Addiction.  But in the end, the fans went their Separate Ways with the other options.  I give you the Cisco Live 2013 headline band:

_AS__DSC1361DD.1 copy_JC

The Cisco Live 2013 Customer Appreciation Band – Journey!

Journey!  Folks, I can hear the kareoke now.  While I’m still a huge fan of all the other bands, I think having a headline act with such wide appeal promises to have an epic level of fun for everyone.  I’m really hoping that unlike last year, I’ll get to Stay Awhile at this CAE and enjoy all the entertainment to be had at Universal Studios.  I also hope I get to see all of the awesome attendees there as well.  I promise to keep the Touchin’, Lovin’, and Squeein’ to a minimum.  Okay, I promise I’m done with the Journey puns.  For now.

Cisco Live 2013 is still a few months off, but stay tuned for more great info coming up.  Once I find out who the special guest keynote speaker will be, I’ll be sure to let everyone know.  We’re also in the early stages of planning the big Tweetup and I’ll have the Cisco Live 2013 Twitter list posted soon.  There may also be a few more surprises in store, so be sure to keep your eyes peeled.