It’s been a helluva summer.
I haven’t blogged in a few weeks – and I hope to get back to my regular cadence. But here’s a tl;dr version of what I’ve been up to.
Outside of work
At the end of June, my family and I closed on a new home, after a whirlwind of real estate transactions. We love our neighborhood and street, so we bought our next door neighbor’s larger condo and sold ours. Don’t kid yourself, a move next door is still a move.
We took a quick vacation to the Cape, then started on a small set of renovations in the new place. mrDiva traveled for work in the weeks before and after vacation, while I shifted into heavy-duty prep-for-VMworld mode.
We moved into our new home, spent a few days in the Adirondacks with mrDiva’s family, then he traveled again, while I managed a sick dog and leaky ceiling. Oh, did I mention that at some point in there our car was damaged and in the shop for several weeks? And that our favorite babysitter moved away to Denver, our dog stayed sick for weeks, and our fridge broke?
But it was a #firstworldproblems kind of summer – we are so lucky to have a beautiful new home, two amazing careers, and most importantly, a healthy babyDiva who is talking up a storm and learning by leaps and bounds.
The work I put into prepping for VMworld was unlike anything I’ve ever done professionally. VMworld is the biggest tradeshow my company participates in each year – 20,000+ attendees, all of our competitors and partners, and this year, our opportunity to launch version 2.0 of our product.
Leading up to VMworld here were the major projects I was involved in:
- Training the entire booth staff on our messaging, our product’s new features, and how to talk with prospects about common objections.
- Designing the demo of our product we were showing in the booth. Fortunately, we have amazingly awesome (is there where I’d use the word “amazeballs”?) technical people who wrote the software and set up the demo systems, so all I had to do was determine how we wanted to tell the story.
- Working with our technical leaders to write our deck for Tech Field Day, a unique event during VMworld where we can present our story to top bloggers and customers.
- Writing new collateral to support our major use cases.
- Writing new messaging to describe our 2.0 product value.
- Writing content for our new website, launched to support our product launch.
Phew. It was late nights, weekends, work on vacation, and more iterations than I care to remember. And yes, I am going to the spa tomorrow. But I would not have traded it for anything. Having this level of impact is exactly why I went to a startup. And coming out of VMworld with all this having executed successfully I am (#humblebrag) appreciating what I’m able to accomplish with hard work.
What I learned
I learned a lot and I’m sure that over time I’ll assimilate even more of it. Here’s my first pass.
1. Events like this are a force function for articulating strategic direction. Our senior technical leadership is unbelievably talented, and has a great vision for the company. However, getting it out of each of their heads and creating a single message for the company’s direction isn’t something we’d have spent time on unless we needed it. Having done it, there are so many derivative assets and projects we can follow-up with now that we have a clear, written articulation of where we are in the market and where we are going.
2. It’s really hard to switch between marketing for the broadest audience and marketing for the most sophisticated audience in short time. Our booth staff training and our website marketing has to be accessible and educational. Our marketing for TFD is predicated on having an audience who already has a strong baseline of the industry, the newest technologies, and even what we do. Knowing one’s audience is necessary for great marketing, but that doesn’t make it easy to create content for two divergent audiences at the same time.
3. I am beginning to appreciate more dimensions of what it means to be at a startup. My personal work is very visibly impacting our company’s success. We are in a segment of the market that is definitely forming right now – we’re one of only two or three vendors who is successfully executing I/O optimization software, and customers and press are paying attention. What we put on our website and say in the booth and put in our press releases is actually shaping this part of the industry.
4. Absolutely nothing is a substitute for a hard working team. I have never ever worked with a team who worked as hard as our staff did during VMworld. We demoed until we were hoarse, kept going long after official show hours closed, pitched people in elevators and taxis. Our salesguys were indefatigable – not looking at their watches, phones, or even breaking for lunch when there were customers around. I was so proud to work for Infinio and so excited to see how busy our booth was and how many great conversations we had.
5. Being a working mom is awesome. babyDiva is just over a year and a half old, and I am so excited to see her grow up. Nothing gives me perspective on a long day at work like discovering she’s learned new words (“plate” “stroller” “melon” “thankyou”) and can’t wait to use them. Or grabbing a granola bar to stick in my bag and seeing her do a happy little ‘granola bar’ dance. I don’t feel torn, I don’t wish I were home all the time, but I love having a life where I can have both.
My memory of this summer will be one where the stars of work and home life aligned. I have no illusions that it will always feel this way, but I’m happy to enjoy it