Historically, conferences (big or small) have always been really good for us. After all, that's how Anthony got the first thousand customers onboard with DNSimple back in 2010! 🍭👏
By virtue of being a globally distributed team, conferences also tend to turn into convenient meeting points. What I didn't expect, however, was how attending a conference as a team could also act as a bonding experience.
Now, let me start with an apology to Jacobo, Luca, and Mak who stayed in Madrid, Rome, and Mexico City respectively to safeguard the DNShip. Guys, I don't mean to stir the FOMO—fear of missing out—in you with this post. See note in the last paragraph. ❤️
Sharing a couch
My CodeMash experience began 300 miles East of Sandusky, Ohio in Chicago. My mission was to assist Aaron in hauling all the furniture and swag destined to build the DNSimple Living Room™.
So I flew to ORD, picked up a rental car, and went over to Aaron's to share meat sweats at a nearby Argentinian restaurant and eventually crash on his couch. I consider it an opportunity to be hosted in the intimacy of my coworker's home. Every time that I've done it in the past, it has given me the chance to share unique moments with my teammates outside of "work", on their own turf. So far I've had the chance to visit half a dozen of cities this way (Ole, you're next! 🇩🇪)
The next day, Aaron and I played cat and mouse on the I-80 until we finally made it to the Kalahari Resort, home of CodeMash 2017.
Building "real things"
First things first, let's all agree that building IKEA furniture should not only be an Olympic sport, but also a mandatory team workshop. Here's why: we're used to build things together, but not real physical things.
Needless to say, we had a blast building the furniture and cracked up laughing most of the time; but we also learned, in a rather implicit way, how each of us approach a "problem".
I won't go as far as to suggest that work ethic can be directly extracted from putting together a Klippan couch but it's definitely a good way to understand each other.
Pitching dnsimple to strangers
It wasn't long before our DNSimple living room was finished, and-as Laetitia predicted—attendees flocked to our display to see what was going on.
This was the whole point, right? Get attendees to come chat with us so we can tell them what we're working on and what our domain management automation tools are all about.
The interesting part is that none of us are salespersons by trade. Yet, all of us have some sort of "selling" experience from past endeavours. This resulted in having essentially nine different ways of pitching the DNSimple's value proposition.
For some marketing folks, this sounds like a messaging nightmare: — "OMG, your team is not aligned under the same message. How can you sleep at night?" 😱
To me, it's quite the opposite: it was an eye-opening experience to hear my teammates describe our service in their own words. It made it clear to me that the fabric of the company is so much more that just a rehearsed sales pitch.
And of course, it provided Laetitia and I with new ways to "pitch" DNSimple via our online channels.
hat tip to David who had not only a TinyP temporary tattoo on his forehead but also had mastered a really tight pitch
Attending team members talks
The 'ah-ha' moment that eventually inspired me to write this post took place while I was sitting in Sebastian and talking about UX—I remember thinking to myself:
"Ah, that's where he is going with the dashboard!"
By listening to Sebastian talk about UX, or Anthony laying out all the work that went into building APIv2, I got to get a deep understanding of their vision of where DNSimple should go. I realized that very rarely do I listen to my coworkers for an hour straight. 😂
I'm bummed out to have missed Aaron's anatomy of a DDoS talk 😔
It also allowed me to see my teammates in a completely different element… one where all of them excelled and seemed comfortable. I remember feeling super proud whenever they'd nail a good joke and the crowd would erupt in laughter.
Roaming as a pack
With the nine of us sitting at the restaurant, we could really feel that we were a team.
Inevitably, if you roam as a pack, hilarious situations will come up. Like this time we were with the people in charge of making the promo video for next year's edition approached us to interview our team… which went really well:
I don't know what they're drinking... but I want some. @dnsimple @codemash #codemash pic.twitter.com/ulpMieQnHo— ZAGG Studios, Ltd. (@ZAGGStudios) January 13, 2017
This may not apply to everyone but I noticed that screaming with your teammates while rushing down a waterpark slide was a great way to share our fears. 😂
Sad takeaway: MOBs 😔
In sailing, there's a term called "man overboard". Pretty self explanatory, right? Well, it kind of felt that way by not having the remaining three members of our team there with us.
It's obviously not an easy task to round up the whole team in one spot. It definitely brings all sorts of financial and logistics challenges but, in hindsight, I guess that it would be one of the biggest takeaway: avoid MOBs.
Happy takeaway! 😁🎉
On a positive note, being able to live the intensity of a conference with the team changed my whole perception of both our team and our company. I sure hope we'll be able to do more of those in the future!