I am on the road with my friends from Shopify, taking photos at their adws tour. An event series for the Shopify community, Shopify Partners and those who are interested in this. My photos set of the stop in New York is available here. Shopify ran this event in the lovely Greenpoint Loft in Williamsburg.
Sitting at the airport in Düsseldorf waiting for my flight to Frankfurt to connect to New York. Am in New York until Friday, before leaving for Vancouver until Tuesday. Reason for going is an event by my long time partners at Shopify called “A Day with Shopify”, which they started last year in Bristol and run in several cities around the world now. Looking forward to also use this chance to catch up with a few friends.
Roland runs this event series for people who want to learn programming. Topics vary and this time the topics are TYPO3 and Symfony. Join the free workshops on September 23rd and register here.
Yesterday at around 8:30 in the morning I started my trip to Seattle to attend the Microsoft Edge Web Summit. Right before I got on the train, I got notified, that my Air Berlin flight to New York, where I’d have to change planes, was cancelled (I booked this flight before they announced their insolvency). I upgraded my flight to business class as I have plenty of miles still with Air Berlin – god knows what that is worth these days or in the future. I called their hotline and they were able to get me on a British Airways flight that was leaving at the same time, but was getting me to Seattle earlier and was via London Heathrow. So I thought I was lucky in the end and would enjoy my upgraded flight with British Airways now.
I was waiting for my flight to LHR to depart at 10:50, but then they said, due to a technical check we’d have to wait another 20 minutes. Ok, I thought, 20 minutes is not bad, as I had a long layover at LHR anyways. My flight to Seattle was at 15:30 (16:30 my time in Düsseldorf). About 20 minutes after the announcement was made, the captain of the plane came out and spoke to us. She said, that a wheel got a cut, when they started in London and the tire had to be changed. The tire was changed already (quick, isn’t it?), but when the wheel burst, a small piece must have hit the wing of the plane and caused a dent on the wing. They now had to do paperworks to have an engineer look at the photos and give the ok that they could fly this plane with the dent.
About an hour and a half later she came out again and said, that the first engineer gave the ok, but they needed a second one to also review this to be on the safe side and this paper work always needs quite some time to be written and also read. By this time I still was sure to maybe catch my Seattle flight. I, though, checked the following flight at 14:00 for seats already. One seat was open in this one, as in the morning the first BA flight was cancelled due to bad weather. I had a bad feeling, but still hoped to catch my flight.
Some time later the captain came out again and said they would be ok to go – people applauded – but that the start would need about another 30 minutes to an hour. It was past 13:00 already (12:00 in the UK).
About 13:40 we finally started boarding and chances were small, that I catch my flight. The 14:00 landed in Düsseldorf already, but it was clear, that this machine would leave even after us and the one seat that was left before, was taken now anyways. Around 14:40 we finally took off. 13:40 in the UK and my flight was at 15:30. Usually a flight to LHR ist about 1 to 1,5 hours from DUS. So still: a very small chance I make it. I was discussing chances with the flight attendance, who was doing a fantastic job btw. and it was not looking good as this was one of the longer flights to LHR. We landed at 15:17 UK time and I was hoping that the Seattle flight maybe was delayed, as LHR often has delays. It was not. Bummer.
If I’d been 15 minutes earlier, I might have gotten my flight. But now I was stuck at LHR and went to the service desk. They had a few options, but none that would have gotten me in on the same day, so it was sure, I’d miss part of the Microsoft event. One flight leaving the same day but via Calgary > Vacouver (with a 6 hour layover in the night, no lounge would be open and no hotel, so I’d have to sleep somewhere in the waiting hall) > Seattle. I’d have arrived at 8:00 in the morning in Seattle to then rush to the event and I guess I’d have been crazy tired. Another options was to stay at LHR as BA would put me into a hotel and then to take a Virgin Atlantic flight at 13:20, which is the first direct connection to Seattle. That brings me in around 15:00 and I sadly miss more than half of the event, but at least I gonna make it and see Kyle and Chris and other people I’d like to meet. Another benefit is, that I never flew Virgin Atlantic Upper Class and also never the newer Dreamliner. So I am kind of looking forward to this. While writing this all, I am sitting in the Virgin Atlantic Club House lounge and am waiting for boarding.
I mean, yes, this was a lousy trip so far, but you know, seeing the positive things in this is what makes it better: the dent on the wind could have been not seen and maybe would have been too bad to fly and I prefer to better be safe than sorry, I have to say. I also am going to make a new flight experience maybe. But while sitting here and thinking this all through, I was thinking about my damn first world problem. I have seen on the tickets, how much the rebooking to BA and then to Virgin did cost – no idea if the airlines actually pay this, but that, I guess was the ticket prices that I’d have had to pay in case I really booked it. Also I have seen how crowded the lounges at DUS and BA’s lounge at LHR, as well as the Virgin Club Houser now are and I can just imagine how much money this all is. And then I felt bad.
I mean yes, I had a bad day, but that is nothing. All the money that is sitting here, the free food and drinks I got over the last two days: I do not actually need this. I am just stranded on a trip to Seattle and not suffering from not having anything to eat or even plain water to drink. I got vouchers for three meals in the hotel, visited three lounges. All with free food and drinks. And yes of course that is nice to enjoy. In the first place. But I can’t help, but feel bad about all this if I look at the world and how it is these days. So I am sorry to be lucky like this. I’d have to look at what I can do to help more, I think. We are doing small things already with my family, but there must be more that can be effectively done without having the small amounts of money we can donate without being deflagrated in bureaucratic things. I will definitely look into this.
When I started beyond tellerrand back in 2011, I had no idea how people will follow this idea and join me for an event, I was about to create on my own and partly for my own as well. I invited speakers, I really liked to see and they luckily said yes to come and speak. Then I invited people to join me watching them speak and luckily people did. I remember the feeling I had when I started selling tickets back then: excitement, anxiety, doubt and self-doubt. Every single ticket sale gave me a kick and I was tremendously happy that one more person liked what I was doing and wanted to be there.
I was successfully running beyond tellerrand in Düsseldorf for three years, when I decided to add Berlin as a second city. I remember how scared I was about it. Was it the right decision to do this? Does it mean just because Düsseldorf was working, Berlin would as well? I remember asking Eric Spiekermann, when he was speaking in Düsseldorf in May 2014, if he thinks that Berlin would work. He answered something like ”Marc, why shouldn’t it? Don’t be stupid! When I tell someone I was about to speak here, everybody just had lovely words for your event. Of course it will work” – I mean, I wish I had Eric’s confidence. But the first edition in Berlin was a huge success and sold out in the first year already. So did all the following shows in Berlin and Düsseldorf.
Somewhen last year I was looking at the German map. I also checked where attendees in Berlin and Düsseldorf come from. I thought it would be nice to also add a show in the southern part of Germany. But most importantly I was listening to my inner voice, which was telling me that this could work. At the same time Malte from Microsoft was asking, if I could imagine doing something in Munich. So I leaked this idea to a few people and it seemed everybody liked it – apart from asking me if I’d be crazy to run a third event on my own. I thought about time and place and have chosen Munich in January. Here is a little blog post about why I run it in January in Munich, as I don't want to go into detail in this post here.
I knew that it would be a bit hard to run #btconf Munich at this particular time. Right after the new year is born and so short after Christmas. Also Berlin is just two months before and that means I’d have at least 4 months were the organisation of Berlin and Munich would overlap heavily. Self-doubt grew. Was it the right thing to do? Am I selling myself and the event out now? Will speakers come so short after Christmas and so early in the year? Will I get the money together to run it, as Munich is an expensive place to run an event in. I don’t know and I still, to this moment, don’t know.
Then I announced tickets sales for Munich and posted the blog post I mentioned above. The feedback I got to this was so lovely that I got a confidence boost and I was looking forward now. Even if it turns out to be too much for me with three and so close to Berlin or if the experience won’t be the same as in Düsseldorf for Berlin, I would try this now and decide after the first one, if I do another one. People who know me know, that I will work my ass off to make this event a welcoming and nice to attend event anyways.
Days passed and over time, the doubt grew again. Was I doing the right thing? Now, today, was the day, when the tickets for Munich went live. Like a little child with shaking legs, I was sitting in front of my computer to wait for 10:00 when the tickets would be available. The early bird tickets for Berlin and for Düsseldorf usually sell in under a minute, but I wasn’t expecting this for Munich, as I never expect for the other two cities either. Every time I am equally excited to see the tickets going live. I got myself another cup of coffee and was excited to see what would happen.
Finally the tickets went on sale and all early bird tickets went in just under 20 minutes. As said, I was not sure what to expect, but the fact, that so many people already reserved their seat for Munich made me very happy. Now regular passes are on sale and are also selling good.
I never expect any of my events to sell out or the early birds to sell quick. Not expecting it protects me from being disappointed. It also makes me more happy to stay humble like this, if then in the end tickets sell quick or an event sells out, because I am very happy to then seeing this happen. Yes, I am also proud of what I achieved so far with beyond tellerrand. Especially as a one-man-band. Every single conversation at an event, where people have lovely words about beyond tellerrand, make me absolutely happy. As happy as for the first event. For me – as well as for many other people, which I know, who run events – these personal chats, where people tell me they enjoyed it a lot or heard so many good things about it and want to come one day, are the actual payment. When people spread the word about it, that is what event organisers like me need and what has so much value, as we all don’t have a huge budget to advertise our events somewhere. Again: I also never expect this and therefore I can’t be disappointed if people don’t, but the more I am happy if people do.
So please: stop me, if you see me running around at any event and let’s have a chat. Thanks a lot!
Beginning of August Eva Ferreira has written ten mostly quick to do guidelines and tipps to improve your web accessibility. A nice read for an important topic. And I think she is right, when she says:
Website accessibility is not always easy to implement, but if you make it part of your everyday workflow (instead of a last-minute checklist) implementation and testing will become easier over time.
Read the full article here.
In early 2016 Brian Suda, who spoke at my very first beyond tellerrand show in Berlin, and Joschi Kuphal, who was my partner in crime for border:none in 2013 and who is a restless doer, always on the hunt for new event adventures to set up, set up a Kickstarter for an event called Material, which they planned to run. The concept sounded lovely, but it wasn’t funded on Kickstarter and they did not run the event, sadly. This year Brian wanted to move ahead and start/run this event on a probably small, but good scale to get started. I had a couple of conversations with Joschi (and indirectly with Brian through this) and knew their fear of putting this event up, but also knowing the fear I’d have with this event. I mean, Iceland, at this specific time (the time when there is kind of a holiday season, I think – correct me, if I am wrong), next to the fact that there are soooo many other events taking place all over the world.
I was planning to go and even bring my family as we have got holiday season over here, but time and other circumstances sadly stopped me from going. But being who I am and following the stuff friends of mine do, I certainly was following what was happening, and was even more sad to not having attended.
Now Joschi has written a fantastic write-up with a bit of a back story and I simply love stuff like this. Insights into why someone decided to run an event and what they had to do/suffer during the time before. I so much wish I had been there, but I hope there is another chance … even though I missed the first one. Over all I want to thank people like Joschi and Brian, unrestingly doing stuff, even with the risk they know about. Those are people the event landscape needs to create events with a certain, a special atmosphere.
About two weeks ago we arrived back from a lovely vacation on Sardinia. I really used the time again to recharge my batteries, stay away from devices (I only opened my laptop once) and just enjoy the time with family and not having to do anything. It was wonderful. Not only the time away, but also Sardinia is a lovely place on earth.
But like it is, when you have time, you also have time to think about certain things. Right on the day when we left for Sardinia I found a letter from the court of justice in my post box. I thought ”Oh dear. What have I done now?” not expecting what was coming. It was the estate proceedings for the death of my father.
After reading it and being on the way to the airport, I directly had to think of what I had written earlier last year, with a post titled Use the chance you have. Those of you, who read it, might remember that I used the death of both of my brothers as a chance to get in touch with my dad, who left the family a long time ago, to have the chance to connect again. Not only for me or him, but especially for my three kids, as I though they might be curious about their grandfather they never have met so far – and for my father, as I thought, he might be curious as well. Of what happened to me during the last twentysomething years and to meet his grandchildren. And my lovely wife.
The reaction back then, when I tried it the first time in 2013 was not what I wished to get, but I somehow was expecting something like this. Also not to be disappointed by a no. I remember that this E-Mail arrived, when I was running the first border:none event together with Joschi and right before we were about to kick of the event.
I was even more happy, that I did not give up and tried it another time, after my second brother died. After asking my father, if it would help to meet at another place and not where he lives, he agreed to maybe meet one day. Not a strong yes, but there was a possibility for us to meet again. Even if it was small. And this, because I tried to use my chance and not gave up.
When I got notice of the death of my father now, suddenly I realised, that this chance we had was not used. I certainly can’t say, I did not try, but maybe I could have tried harder? A different way? Did he mean it, when he said, that we can meet? Should I have acted directly to use this chance then? No idea. I used a small chance that then wasn’t used by my father. Now he’s gone, we won’t get another chance and my kids never will see and meet my dad, their other grandfather. I will never get any questions to my answers anymore, but a certain feeling in me tells me to write his wife and speak to her about my father. It is curiosity that drives me. Not that I think I will get any answers anymore.
Why am I telling this to you? I mean, yes, I still think, you should use the options and possibilities you have, like I have written earlier, but surely sometimes you will be disappointed about what you find out or what happens afterwards. This, though, should never stop you from trying to use these chances.