Two years ago I posted on a data center LV social and questioned whether the event would continue with Steve joining Schneider Electric as part of Lee Tech acquisition.
MONDAY, APRIL 4, 2011 AT 9:53AM
Well on Tues Steve delivered again on the best social with more people, many new and it is all working better than ever for an event that has people flying in from all over just to attend a party. Steve had a new shirt and the rivalry for who has the coolest shirt continues between Joe (another Data Center Industry Exec) and Steve. Katie was back. And Steve’s wife attended for the first time. Mike Manos was there, which drew a lot of former Mircosoft and AOL Data Center leadership, Quite a few Chicago based data center professionals that in some cases have worked for both of the Manos brothers. There is a Texas crowd. And, even a Seattle collection. Three of us were all on the same flight from LAS to SEA on Weds. Many who attended are well known in the Data Center industry, and are keynoters and speakers at conferences.
Before the Manos party, I went to another get together at The Mandalay Bay where almost everyone there was attending AFCOM. I luckily found the corner next to the air conditioning vent where I was probably the only one who didn’t sweat in a room with too many people. Hey is there a cooling engineer in the house. :-) The suite had mostly vendors in there as there were groups of same colored shirts all over and lots of gray hairs. I have lots of gray too, but I didn’t dress like everyone else and work for myself. There were a handful of those people who were going to the Manos social, and most for the first time as one proud decked out female bragged “I am all dressed up because I am going to PURE tonight!” Note: Many of the people attending this DC Social don’t go to AFCOM or Uptime and this is time for them to network with their peers. Oops, the reason why people say they were in LV was AFCOM, but they were actually in town for Manos’s premier networking event.
At about 8:30p the group starts to collect in the Shadow Bar, you can get an idea of who has made it into town. It’s kind of a pre-party warm-up. The real party starts at 10p. By 12p the weak leave. By 3p the party moves from the roof to the dance floor. Then there is gambling, the breakfast, and an exhausted trek to the airport or finally crashing in the hotel. You wouldn’t think Steve had been up for 24 hours by looking at this picture of him with his wife Cindy.
Steve has done a great job of refining and iterating on what works for a good data center social.
Here are six ways to understand why the social works. Using Webster’s definition of social, let’s go through the six.
Definition of SOCIAL1: involving allies or confederates <the Social War between the Athenians and their allies>
1. The core set of people who have attended for 3 of more of these social events are friends - allies or confederates - who know what it means to work together in this industry. There are suppliers and consumers of services, but it is not about selling as much as figuring out who you can work with and trust. One of the new guys at the party was one of my good friends Kevin who needed facility operations expertise and for the past 6 months he has been working with Steve to run his data center facility operations, and he fit right in.
2 a : marked by or passed in pleasant companionship with friends or associates <an active social life>
b : sociable
c : of, relating to, or designed for sociability <a social club>
2. The people attending are sociable and people enjoy interacting with. It has been interesting to watch some of the big so-called networkers try to attend and they fade out as they really don’t fit into the group.
3: of or relating to human society, the interaction of the individual and the group, or the welfare of human beings as members of society <social institutions>
3. One of the top characteristics that defines whether people get invited and attend 3 or more events is whether they are concerned about the welfare of other people. Many of these people were close friends of the departed Olivier Sanche who was probably one of the best at being a caring person. If you are a selfish person, you probably don’t fit in.
4a : tending to form cooperative and interdependent relationships with othersb : living and breeding in more or less organized communities <social insects>c of a plant : tending to grow in groups or masses so as to form a pure stand
4. Do you work well with others? Part of what gets compared is who can you work with and who is more difficult. Simply watching who talks to who is interesting in itself.
5a : of, relating to, or based on rank or status in a particular society <a member of our social set>b : of, relating to, or characteristic of the upper classesc : formal
5. Formal is not what the social is, but there is a rank. Not necessarily how much you can brag about your latest container on a roof or chicken coop design, but how well are you networked into the attendees. It was funny getting introduced to the well networked by first timers. I think I got introduced to Sean 5 times by various people. Sean and I would play along and pretend we met for the first time, getting a good laugh. Shows how important Sean is. :-)
6: being such in social situations <a social drinker>
6. Being a social there is drinking.
In 1 1/2 weeks it is my turn to host the Data Center Downtime Social in Santa Clara, where I get to see many of the same people I saw in LV, and there are many who couldn’t make it out to LV. Most of the people who go to the downtime social event don’t go to data center conferences. Which brings up an interesting side effect on Data Center Socials. Data Center Conferences are marketed as the place the customers go for expertise. But, if you are an expert who tells the vendors what to do, then the conferences are kind of irrelevant, because many of the presentations are from the vendors. Note: many of the data center social attendees are the ones who are in demand for keynote speakers.
One of the first rules we had tried for who goes to the data center downtime social is if you are a vendor you are not invited. But, one of the smartest nicest guys I know who really can run data centers works for a vendor. Ahh, how about if you are a thought leader is the criteria for whether we invite you or not. Who you work for is not important. Part of the reason why this concept is working is it is about the people and their social skills, not about the companies. If you look at Webster’s definition of social, being social has nothing to do with what company you work for.