I’ve had to wait a couple of days after Cisco Live ended to do my write-up of the last day of Cisco Live. This year was by far my favorite Cisco Live, and I can only attribute that to being more involved in sessions, events, and socializing than I have been in the past. Participation in the Cisco Champion program has really helped me to lessen my introvert bubble and get to meet some really amazing people. But now, as I’m back home and reflecting on the week, I’m seeing how much this event has helped me grow in many ways.
The Thursday 8 AM session began with the legendary Denise Fishburne (@denisefishburne) giving us a great speech on the Techniques of a Network Detective. Historically, the morning session following the Customer Appreciation Event sees about half of the people signed up for it being a no-show. This was not the case, as people know that Fish is going to give a great lecture and here was proof of this:
In the five Cisco Live’s that I’ve attended, this single session had more people in it than any I’ve ever attended. After getting to hear Fish and talk to her, there is a reason why: she is an all around awesome person.
Later in the morning, I had the distinct pleasure of being invited to be on a panel with Cisco Champion’s Justin Cohen (@cantechit) and Ed Walsh (@vEddieW), discussing Building Your Personal Brand Using Social Media. There were more people in attendance that I’d expected, and I really enjoyed giving my insight on this great tool that has helped me to expand my network and meet some great people. It was really good to listen to Justin and Ed as well, as they had really great insights on this and we had a great discussion. The panel was moderated by one of our fearless Cisco Champion leader’s, Kim Austin (@ciscokima).
Following the panel, I had my final session of Cisco Live: Three Secrets of VIRL. This was another very insightful lecture and I was able to learn some great new techniques for using VIRL in my CCIE studies. If you are working on any certifications, I highly recommend looking into VIRL to help you with learning the technologies. It has really helped me to set up labs without needing the physical equipment like we needed in the past, plus it’s helped me learn a little more about virtualization in general.
The final keynote of the event was given to us by the legendary actor Kevin Spacey. This was an event that was in a league of its own. When he began, I thought this was going to be a lighthearted speech filled with stories and characters that he has done, but what I got out of it was something I didn’t expect. He really inspired me to follow my dreams and to constantly push myself to go against the grain and to challenge myself. I honestly didn’t expect the kind of motivation that he gave, and I was really glad that Cisco Live was able to book such a talented and inspiring speaker for us.
The day ended with the farewell tweetup and final picture in front of the huge Cisco Live sign at Mandalay Bay. This was bittersweet, as it meant that it would be another year until I saw most of these people again. It was also the first year that I really was sad to be leaving Cisco Live. I can only attribute this to the amazing time that I had this year. I can’t emphasize it enough, but if you want to get the most out of Cisco Live it means getting out of your comfort zone and doing the things that normally you would avoid. For me, it was getting out and talking to others and being more of a social butterfly.
My final summarization of Cisco Live is that if you have the opportunity to attend, I would implore you to go. There are so many fantastic aspects to it, that even after five of them, I’ve still not been able to see everything that it has to offer. It has given me the opportunity to find out and then be accepted into the Cisco Champions program, which has been a great experience. I’d like to also thank Brandon (@prebynski), Kim (@ciscokima), and Lauren (@lauren) of the Cisco Champion program for everything that they did for all of us this week. I’m honored to be a part of this great program.
Thank you to Cisco and everyone involved for putting on another awesome Cisco Live. I look forward to seeing everyone again next year in Las Vegas!