THAT Conference 2018 - Continuous Learning

So once again this year the Przylucki clan loaded up and made the drive up to Wisconsin to attend That Conference.  This was our fifth year going up for a few days to spend some time at Summer Camp for geeks.

So you can go back and read some of my other blog posts from past years (and you can probably guess from the fact that this is our fifth year) to know that I think attending That Conference is really worthwhile.  I know, I know,  it's at the Kalahari, in the Wisconsin Dells, so yes, I rode many waterslides... but that is not the draw for me to keep returning (though choosing THAT Conference is certainly influenced by such family-friendliness).  Attending That Conference is my attempt to take some dedicated time to continuously be learning.  I feel like I am learning something 365 days a year.  There is always something up-and-coming, always something I need to dig deeper on, always something I can get exposed to that will make me a better consultant, better employee, better co-worker.  Attending a conference, I have found, has been a wonderful way to gain a lot of knowledge in one big dedicated chunk. It allows me to get out and get exposed to things that I might not get exposed to otherwise.  It gives me a chance to learn things.  It makes me get out and meet people.  It (in the case of That Conference) allows me to eat lots and lots of bacon.

This year I was really happy with my That Conference experience.  For me the Keynotes every morning are always a highlight, and this year they were really strong.  Lots of strong motivation to go out and be the best "me" I can.  To work together with a team.  To focus on more than just the tech.  To embrace the sense of adventure. It was really strong this year..  But I also found so many great sessions.  I ran out to grab all the Docker & DevOps related sessions I could find.  I am in the middle of working with a client that is looking to begin adopting Docker with some of their new projects, so this was PERFECT for me to get a ton of real-world knowledge and experience from the stories and ideas shared in those sessions. Could not have come at a better time for me! I also found a few challenging "Soft Skills" sessions to help me focus on things like team communication and goal setting.  Good stuff.  I have a lot to work on. 

Another thing that can not be lost is the interaction with other people in the community.  Every day I meet new people. Every day I get to hear stories about what people are doing and the problems they are facing and the solutions they are working on to get through those problems.  I've come a long way in the last five years, first at embracing that interaction, and now also at recognizing the value there.  I was listening to the Out From the Cube podcast the other day, and George was talking about the value and importance of even simply starting out with "Hi my name is _______" .. And it struck a chord with me because I spent 3-4 days doing that.  Every meal, sitting down at a new table of people.. "Hi, my name is Jeff".. walking around the booths talking to sponsors "Hi my name is Jeff".. talking to people in sessions "Hi, my name is Jeff".  That was not natural to me the first year I was doing this, but man, it was so natural now, and it just opens things up, having conversations, meeting people and doing a little networking.  

So now I am back at the office, working on my day-to-day.  BUT now, I have more knowledge than i had two weeks ago. I have more confidence in what I need to do on the Docker front.  I have been exposed to new ideas and heard about new trends.  I am feel I am stronger for it.. 

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