Las Vegas is a long way from home, but when you are at Autodesk University with nearly 9,000 fellow CAD professionals it is easy to feel at home. And that is exactly the sense you get because just about everyone is there to help and learn. It’s really quite fantastic.
So after a long Pre-AU run-up Tuesday began with the General Session Keynote. Now there are a few people who decide to skip the GSK, but not me. Anytime you can take me to a stadium normally reserved for sport events and concerts so I can see if filled with nerds, I’m there! Seriously, this joint normally holds like 10,000 screaming fans and aside from the stage area this place was full!
Personally I found Jeff Kowalski’s portion of the talk to be the most interesting. It really is amazing when you stop to consider the full breadth of the Autodesk software catalog and all of the industries that it touches. Still when you hear a practiced speaker like Kowalski and Bass talk about the long-term strategies for Autodesk, how can you help but be interested? Sure some of it is the sort of “rah rah, yay company” cheerleading you may expect, but I feel that there is alot of genuine desire to create a better world there.
A big feature of this year’s AU were the Innovation Forums. I have to admit that even though I wanted to attend a good number of these, scheduling conflicts made that impossible. But not to fear, these great sessions were recorded and are coming online at AU Virtual. So I am going to have to pop some corn and check them out. What I did get to see of the “Reality of the Cloud” session, there is some good content that ought not be missed.
So what else can you say about AU? Great breakout sessions and some of the world’s best training brought together under one roof. Even more fantastic is that that some of these speakers are not normally speakers or trainers. So their content and expertise isn’t available to any other student, anywhere else in the world! That’s pretty heavy when you think about it.
Speaking of speaking, this was my second year to be an Autodesk University speaker and I just can’t say how fulfilling it is. My first session was on the topic of AutoCAD Certification and I felt that it went well. I had several of my attendees come to me during AU and say that they had been motivated to take the exam and were excited to be certified professionals. So I am going to call that a win.
The big win of this year’s AU came in my second session, which Marielle Covington agreed to co-speak with me. For reasons I have never understood, there are not very many (or any, really) career oriented sessions at Autodesk University. That is something I have wanted to change for several years and this year I got my shot to present a course of personal branding. “How to Win Projects and Influence Bosses: The CAD Professional’s Guide to Personal Branding” went off without a hitch! And if the verbal feedback and after class conversations have anything to do with it, Marielle and I have a hit on our hands!
If you’ve ever thought about being an AU speaker, go for it! I cannot express how rewarding it is to have someone come up to you, after a class, and thank you for sharing your expertise or insight. Many people feel that these classes are “free,” but I could not disagree more. First, you obviously paid for the conference. Still I feel that the real payment for the sessions you choose at AU is made in time. There are only so many classes you can fit into the schedule and scores of them that are great. So for these people to decide that our session was worth their valuable time is fantastic!
So how do you end a fantastic week of media events, networking, good food, and great sessions? Well this year Autodesk decided to end it all at the Hard Rock Hotel and they went all out. I have to admit, after a few years of parties that were … let’s say less than awesome, this was a 180 degree change. As if the 80’s – 90’s concert at the Hard Rock’s “The Joint” weren’t good enough (and it was) there were plenty of smaller, awesome music events. From groovy dance floor to black jack table with a dealer who couldn’t count, there was something for everyone. I went down there just to see what the Hard Rock looked like and had a so much fun I stayed all night. There could not have been a bigger or better end to the week’s activities.
As good as the week was, and as fantastic as all the contacts I made are, all good things come to an end. And with that another AU slips into the distance and I slipped all the way back to Texas. So now it is back to the real world of work and expectations. Or as I prefer to think of it: the long wait to Autodesk University 2013.
See you there …
- DCM -