Powershell Summit = Expectations Exceeded

13 minute read

Holy cow, that was one of the best weeks of my life. This is more of a story than a direct event recap, but I hope that you will follow along. I was fortunate enough to attend the PowerShell + DevOps Global Summit after becoming their first scholarship recipient. I could preface things more, but let’s just jump in.

Pre-Scholarship Quarter-Life Crisis

A few months prior to discovering the Scholarship application tweet from Don Jones I had what I refer to as my quarter-life crisis. My best friend passed away after a long battle with brain cancer. He was sick for a while, but I wasn’t really emotionally prepared for his death, even though we knew it was coming.

He was the nicest person that I’ve ever known and helped me grow so much as a person. During the time that he was sick we spent a lot of time together and shared a lot of deep, raw moments together. He was a really well-rounded and compassionate person. His passing left me wondering what life was really about and how I should live mine.

That was deep. Relevance

I realized how fragile and temporary life is. I began reevaulating if I was living my life with purpose. I noticed how people could fall into patterns and just see the years fly by without even noticing. I’m afraid of this. I learned that being a nerd is a great thing and I should embrace it. I should totally geek out on things that I love and follow my dreams. The timing of this is important because I feel like it left me primed and ready to pounce on whatever cool things life had to offer.

Scholarship

Speaking of cool things that life has to offer, one day I was browsing twitter and stumbled across a tweet from Don Jones. At the time, I had no clue what a profound impact discovering the Scholarship application would have on my future. As I started reading through it I knew that this was an amazing opportunity that I couldn’t pass up. I got a babysitter(Thanks, Mom!) and began writing my application with my wife as my sounding board. I submitted my application not feeling all too confident, but was satisfied that I pounced on the opportunity. It’s hard to put words to it, but this felt like such a perfect fit.

In the backseat of a car driving home from a small nearby Security conference I got the mail from Don. It was freaking happening, I’m going to the Summit! It felt like a dream come true and the fact that I got the email while I was driving home from the only other IT conference that I’ve been to was a nice cherry on top.

So now that I have the scholarship, what am I going to do with it? I had no choice but to capitalise on the opportunity and dive as deep into PowerShell as I could. Even before the Summit began I kinda new that me + PowerShell were going to be a ‘thing’ :). Receiving the scholarship was the catalyst that kicked me into gear and made me realize that the only barrier between who I am and who I dream of being is just time and dedication.

Trip Time

Whew, I had an insane amount of anxiety prior to this trip. I’ve been working from home for a while now and leaving that environment was really strange. I didn’t sleep at all the night before my flight, but I knew that I was going to have fun once I got there. I got some advice from the community that I should definitely do a lightning demo. They told me that it was a fantastic chance to get some experience speaking. I decided that I wasn’t going to worry about committing to the lightning demo quite yet. I needed to arrive and get acclimated before I threw on a bit more stress. It was always in the back of my head though, darn anxiety!

I arrived at the airport at 5 AM and hand the TSA agent my ID and boarding pass. She takes a quick glance at my ID then makes eye contact as she asks me if I’m 17 or under (I’m 24). Apparantly I’m much more of a morning person than I thought! Once I’m past security I calm down a bit and realize that it’s actually happening. This thing that I’ve been stoked about for months is real. I had a smile that I couldn’t wipe off. I was going to the Summit! Time to board the plane.

After several hours I arrived in Seattle. I tried meeting up with Brandon Lundt to share an Uber, but it wasn’t meant to be. I hopped in an Uber and just as I was turning the corner I saw Kris Powell! This was freaking awesome! Are you kidding me?! I haven’t even left the airport yet and I have already run into one of the people who GREATLY aided in me getting started in automation. I yell out the window “Kris Powell you’re awesome!” He gives me a surprised look and an awkward wave as my Uber driver drove off. NO RAGRATS!

Hotel, Motel, Seattle Marriott

I arrive at the Hotel and get settled in. The anxiety is gone for the most part and I’m STOKED to get things started. I decide that instead of waiting in my hotel until the welcome event that I was going to explore Seattle! I’m usually more of a stay at home kinda guy, but I was feeling like I couldn’t let this amazing opportunity go to waste. I got some awesome coffee and made small talk with the employees. I went back to the Hotel and I ran into Jeff Hicks. This was rather surreal for me because I’m a massive fan and consumer of his content. He is one of the rockstars that I HAD to meet while I was here. Shortly after I also ran into Don Freaking Jones. Holy crap what a way to start things off.

There was an event that evening that involved alchohol and talking, which is a combination that I’m fond of. I met up with this awesome dude, Mark Kellerman and we chatted for a bit which broke the ice for me at the event. This was his first time at the Summit as well and I felt much more relaxed after having a conversation with someone and realizing that everyone here is a person, not an actual rockstar like I wanted to believe. I went full social butterfly mode. I don’t really know what it was, but everything felt so right and comfortable. I felt like I was with my people. I had a lot of great smalltalk at the vent, and eventually ran into Fred and Mathias Jessen. We went out for dinner and I had a blast. The whole time I was just in shock that I was getting along so well with everyone and how nice they were. It felt like a big family. I went to bed reassured that I was in the right place and I knew that the rest of the trip had a whole lot more awesome in store.

Dinner and Drinks - Hey awesome guy

Another night, I went out to dinner with a large group and ended up stumbling into Kris Powell (the man that I yelled at from an Uber) and Jordan Hammond who both work for a company that makes a product that we use at work, PDQ. They both post blog articles and occasionaly host the weekly webcast that they do. We got to talk shop about their product and got to talk about some awesome PowerShell stuff as well. These guys know their stuff!

Kris Powell (left) and Jordan Hammand(right)

I went back to the hotel bar/lounge and ran into a whole slew of fantastic people that I would grow closer with as the week went on. It was so special to just feel comfortable walking up to a group of PowerShellers and just hop right in. I got so much fantastic advice from people over the course of the week in that bar/lounge area. I got to become friends with quite a few killer people as well. A lot of the social events ended up being more valuable than some of the sessions and that isn’t to downplay the sessions; they were fantastic.

Lightning Demo

After going back and forth several times I decided that I was going to go through with the lightning demo. I nervously typed up my entry and submitted it to Warren Frame. I’m usually comfortable on stages, but it was pretty intimidating being in front of a whole bunch of people. I nervously sipped down my coffee and headed on stage. It went well and I was relieved that I had actually done it. I look forward to being more comfortable on stage next time and it was a great chance to get my feet wet. Thanks so much to Chris Gardner and Herb Martin for really encouraging me to do the lightning demo. There were a lot of really interesting lightning demos, but I was mostly just relieved that I had gotten it out of the way.

Lightning Demo! -Photo by @LazyWinAdm

Dinner Time

After the lightning demos were over I decided to get a few people together to go to dinner. I think that a conversation with Fred, Josh King, and Mathias would be fantastic so I reached out to them and made plans. We went to a great dinner and got a couple of friends, Jeffrey Hayes and Scott Dowling, to join us. If you are going to be a first time summiteer you definitely should reach out to people and take initiative. We went to a place that Fred really raved about. We had great food and great conversations.

Andrew Josh Fred Me, Josh, and Fred!

postdinner Mathias, Jeffery, Scott, Fred, Josh, and me!

Meeting Mentors/Friends

It was surreal running into so many people who have helped me along my PowerShell journey. Every time I walked into a room it was a near guarantee that I would run into someone who inspired or influenced me in some way. You can’t put a price on that and it’s not as intimidating as it may seem in your head. People actually like it when you tell them how they have helped you. Following are just a few of the awesome encounters that I got to have with some killer people.

Early in my PowerShell journey I stumbled upon Josh King. He would stream himself coding on youtube. He would always read the comments and answer any questions in a friendly way. He taught me how to write a function that accepts pipeline input. He demystified what a high level PowerSheller is really like. Seeing him code made me realize that I could do it also and I didn’t have to be a super-genius who has been programming since age 8. I just needed to plan things out appropriately. Several months after that he DM’ed me on twitter asking if I had started posting on Github yet. Thanks to his encouragement I got started! I was lucky enough to run into him several times at the conference, even having an awesome dinner with him. In the months leading up to the summit he was one person that I would always recognize in the Virtual User groups because he, like me, cant get enough PowerShell! Thanks, Josh!

I had a great conversation with Adam Bertram, who won a PowerShell Community Award for his contributions! As a matter of fact, the comment from community-submission for him was displayed on his recipient powerpoint slide along with a few others. My comment began with ‘Adam knows his shit..’, but continued on to talk about how the most impactful stuff that I got from his was actually more of his self-help content. It ended up being a funny conversation starter and I had a great talk with Adam. His article on how to handle conferences was particularly useful. He also encouraged me to start blogging and here we are!

Josh Duffney was freaking awesome to meet! He wrote a blog post a few months ago about being a craftsman that really resonated with me. I started to realize that I should treat what I do as a craft. I discovered this article around the same time that I read “Be the Master” by Don Jones. It’s exciting to see the whole craftsman mindset really flourish in the community. Thanks for the great content, Josh.

I ran into Mark Kraus and had to get a photo with him. My long term goal for myself is to have a grasp on technology to the degree that he does. It’s so awesome to see what he’s done with the web cmdlets and he is super helpful in the community. I actually bought him reddit gold at one point because I was shocked at how friendly and open he is to sharing his knowledge so it was cool to meet him in person. Rock on, Mark! Mark

Mike F Robbins is such a down-to-earth and wholesome guy. Have you checked out his blog? The man is a work horse! What got me the most about Mike is how approachable he is. I tune into his usergroup meetings frequently and look forward to unmuting my mic next time and saying hi! MikeRobbins

Richard Siddaway was a name that I knew was well-respected in the community, but I wasn’t familiar with his content going into the Summit. I had several conversations with him over the week and he really made me feel comfortable and welcome. The week started with him introducing me to Jeffrey Snover, and ended with him hooking me up with signed copies of his books. PowerShell in Action is the best technical book I’ve ever read. It may be the timing of me starting to read it directly after priming my brain at the Summit, but it’s pretty technical and still manages to keep a human voice behind it.

Fred really helped me feel like I was ready for the Summit. He helped me a bunch leading into the Summit and even went so far as to walk me through my first contribution to a project on Github! He re-ignited my fire for PowerShell Studio as well. His passion for Powershell is infectious and I really appreciate how much time he spent on me!

Chris Gardner is super active on the PowerShell Slack and has helped me on several occasions. This guy loves talking about PowerShell. He was so friendly on the PowerShell Slack and made me feel a lot more comfortable posting questions. I’ve been able to provide for others what he provided for me, which is awesome. He works with this lively developer, Riccardo Viglianisi, who is an absolute blast to hang out with. After the pub crawl on Thursday 7 of us got an UberX to head back to the Hotel for the night. It turns out that we had the coolest Uber driver ever and she let us play music. We had our own version of Karaoke and it was so much fun just letting loose. ChrisGardner

I made so many great friends at this event and didn’t want to spend too much time thanking everyone, but to everyone that I got to meet and spend time with at the Summit, thank you for being awesome.

Major Takeaways

  • I’m in the right place doing the right things in life right now.
  • I’m insanely passionate about PowerShell and want to empower others. To quote the twitter bio of Michael Lombardi “just trying to be a force multiplier for everyone I meet.”
  • It’s okay to be super into something and totally nerd out on it.
  • PowerShell rocks!

The real magic of the event doesn’t come from the PowerShell content, but from being immersed in the community. The secret sauce that makes the Summit such a special place is the people. Thank you so much to Powershell.org for everything and I hope that I can be a good model for future scholarship recipients to emulate.

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