July​ ​23,​ ​2016:​ ​News​ ​&​ ​Views​ ​Roundup​ ​For​ ​Events​ ​Wranglers​

Here is the July 23rd curated smattering of recent events wrangling news and views. My goal is to have this Saturday’s items inform you or inspire you. Maybe you’ll even do something a little different for your next event because of what you read here! For complete details on any of these goodies, click the headline link and read the juicy cyber-details at the source.

What the Pokémon Go Craze Means for Venues and Eventspokemon go

Venues and existing events are already taking advantage of the popular augmented-reality game. Posting a photo to Instagram or taking a Snapchat video are commonplace at events, but now it’s quite possible that catching Pokémon will become the new norm for using phones in a social setting.

…Pokémon Go has become one of the most popular mobile apps ever, and it’s already taking over venues and major summer events. The global augmented-reality scavenger hunt, which through GPS tracking encourages users to catch Pokémon by walking to various locations on a map, has led to mass amounts of players flocking to locations…that range from event venues and restaurants to national and city parks, museums, and historic monuments.

In just two weeks, there have been a slew of community-organized events such as park meetups and bar crawls for people to gather and catch Pokémon en masse…”

So I’m going to get the obligatory Pokémon GO article out of the way first.

pokemon go 3[For those who wondered, the upper case GO is the format used by Niantic, the game’s primary creator. The “Go” format is the lazy, uninformed or misinformed version. Which I had also started using until I read a couple posts by John Hanke.]

There are many cyber-opinions being voiced regarding the longevity of Pokémon GO, as well as most other PokéTopics. Although I feel the game has a better than even chance of continuing strong for years, my main opinion is that the initial wave of opportunity is HUGE. People and organizations who don’t try to quickly and appropriately leverage the massive interest in Pokémon GO will miss out on two things.

  1. A very significant potential boost to their venture or organization.
  2. An opportunity to practice strategies and tactics for the next major innovation wave.

Pokémon GO is a product — a single game. It may be a long-lasting success, or it could end up being a short-lived, but valuable, learning opportunity.

Niantic Labs is a platform. It will be a long-lasting success. John Hanke did his Masters degree work at UC Berkeley in the mid 90s on essentially creating a platform like Niantic Labs. Before Pokémon GO, he created Ingress at Niantic Labs, which became the foundation for Pokémon GO. Before Niantic Labs, he was the lead person for Google Maps. Before Google Maps, Hanke was the founder of Keyhole, which Google bought to build Google Maps. Mr. Hanke knows what he’s doing…

If you don’t get Pokémon GO involved in some way at your next event, you’re missing an opportunity. And there’s a 99% probability that most events wranglers will be using some aspect of the Niantic Labs platform at one or more of the events they do in 2020.

[For more on Pokémon GO, see last week’s News & Views post and “Pokémon Go & Social Interaction.”]

Get Your People Enrolled in PreCheck!tsa precheck 2

Your attendees’ experience starts as soon as they walk out the front door. You can give them a smoother journey by showing them how easy it is to enroll in the Transportation Security Administration’s PreCheck program—and by helping them do it.

Through TSA’s partner MorphoTrust, companies can arrange for mobile enrollment on site at the office as well as set up corporate accounts to pay for the program on behalf of employees…”

If you have to fly commercial airlines frequently, you probably are already in the TSA PreCheck program. If a significant number of the attendees at your future events will fly commercial to travel to your event, this article recommends you consider helping tsa precheckinterested registrants get plugged into the PreCheck program.

As pointed out by the article, the “attendees’ event experience starts as soon as they walk out the front door” of their home (or office), assuming they don’t leave through the back door of the building when they head to the airport. If they miss their flight due to long TSA security lines, or if they make the flight but have a horrible experience getting to the gate for their flight, they may show up for your event with a very poor attitude. You probably will then have to expend extra effort or resources trying to improve their attitude.

If those long TSA security lines cause them to miss your event, well, you won’t even have a chance to improve their attitude.

7 Tips to Extend the Value of Teambuilding Activitiesfacilitate success

Teambuilding activities such as retreats, community service projects, competitive games, and problem-solving challenges can be great tools for companies to strengthen employee relationships, improve communication, break down barriers, re-energize staff, and ultimately improve the work climate and positively impact the bottom line.

But those outcomes don’t just happen—they require advanced planning and follow-up. We surveyed four teambuilding professionals for ideas on how to create long-term value from a teambuilding activity…Here are their tips for extending the value of teambuilding activities…”

As the subtitle of this article puts it, it just makes sense to “keep the collaboration and communication going long after the event ends.” As I mentioned in the post “#6 Priority: Follow-Up For Greater Impact,” extending the value of events long after the last person leaves the event venue can have a multiplying effect. Doing the right follow-up will make your event far more successful than immediately moving on to your next project as soon as that last attendee gets hit by the door on the way out.

The Planner On… Balancing the Pie of Lifepie of life

In our profession, stress is quick to the plate. Those 90-hour workweeks creep up, and next thing you know, you are up at 2 a.m. scribbling to-do lists. In 2016, I set forward to allow the pieces of my “life pie” to match my priorities. Here are four tips for balancing your professional pie wedges:

  1. Make your schedule transparent…
  2. Limit smartphones and email…
  3. Cross-train your colleagues…
  4. Take your out-of-office one step further…”

Any way you slice it, your pie of life only has 24 hours per day. That’s pretty much a mixed metaphor, but my point is that most people want to get more done, and that can only be done by making better choices.

This “pie of life” post is a short one, but we can all take away two valuable lessons from it:

  1. Four is a good number of tips.
  2. Do more by delegating.

pie of life 2Google can help us find at least 44 tips for balancing our life.

Wait, what am I saying?? Google can find us 444 tips for balancing our life. At least. Probably more. But I’m a mere human. And you probably are, too. Unless you’ve been biohacking. The thing about humans is that we can only focus well on a limited number of ideas or tasks. This means establishing a list of four ways to improve your life pie is plenty to start with.

To a certain extent, each of the author’s four tips involve delegating. Rather than doing everything that everyone wants or asks you to do, delegate some of your authority and some of your responsibilities. Cross-training is especially important for delegating. The first manager I worked for when I got out of college told me the most important objective for someone who wants to be promoted is to deliver fantastic results on their high priority responsibilities.

The second most important objective is to find someone who can replace you. My manager said that if you make yourself nearly irreplaceable, bosses tend to leave keep you in your current job. If you cross-train colleagues, not only can they help you or fill in for you, but managers will be less hesitant to promote you.

The author’s four tips might not be exactly what you need to balance your hectic work life, but they are good ones to consider when you start making your life pie improvement list.

Does Your Team Say Your Mandatory Workshops Are Unbearable?weird face, kids, unbearable

Mandatory training…even trigger groans in the presenters. They are usually long, tedious and unforgivably mind-numbing as well as butt-numbing. Most of us despise them…

For those of us in the training design and delivery world, mandatory training triggers a triple-groan. Not only do we need to create or update mandatory training every year, but we also have to complete it, and then spend countless hours cajoling, begging, or threatening our trainees to complete it. So how do we move beyond the collective groan and design it to feel a little less like an annual punishment?…”

Per the previous post “Value Of Events And Meeting For Coffee” on Events Wrangling, a significant number of people recommend not going to events, or at least greatly limiting the number of events you spend time on. My daughter, wife, and sister all feel mandatory workshops are “unbearable” and should be made a thing of the past, no more than a distant and distasteful memory.

However, government bureaucracies, corporate policy makers, and professional certification organizations will never eliminate mandatory training. In upcoming years, a portion of in-person mandatory workshops will be reduced by online training and certification, but there will still be IRL events which require your butt in an event facility’s seat.

The above “mandatory workshops” post presents an infographic with ideas on how to make Torture Time Training less painful. Maybe even useful and enjoyable…


Digital Nomads & Events Building Regional Culture

Events & Regional Culture

Events are one of the things that help build the culture of a region.appleton, wi

A pretty smart tech guy once told me that part of the reason he moved to Appleton, Wisconsin, USA, was because of the weekly tech meeting I helped start. He said something to the effect that he figured there must be a decent amount of tech stuff going on, or we wouldn’t have done a weekly tech meeting for years and wouldn’t have had a long term blog related to the tech meeting.

He had other reasons for moving to this area, too, but the tech meetings and tech blog did have an influence on his perception of the area.

Yesterday’s post raised the question of what the value of events are and whether people are using their time wisely by participating in events. Because events help build a region’s culture, having a variety of tech and entrepreneurial events appear to have value directly related to the following article I read today.

Digital Nomad Discretion On Where To Live

The Case for Working in Silicon Valley and Living in the Rust Belt,” suggests that ultra-high housing costs in Silicon Valley (which can also be seen in other large cities with major tech hubs) may be causing an increasing number of tech workers to move to other Golden Gate Bridgeareas with a high quality of life but much lower housing costs.

A new wave of tech workers is house hunting in Middle America. When software engineer Eric Anderle and his wife, Rachel, decided they were tired of renting and wanted to buy, they quickly realized that any place in their neighborhood—San Francisco’s spiffy NoPa district—would be out of reach. Rather than look in surrounding towns or across the bay to Oakland, the 25-year-olds staged an escape. Last fall they moved into a four-bedroom house an hour south of Grand Rapids, Mich. The monthly mortgage payment on their 3,000-square-foot home there is about the same as the rent on the couple’s old 600-square-foot apartment. Best of all, Anderle didn’t have to give up his Grand Rapids, MIsweet Silicon Valley gig at Twilio. He persuaded the cloud communications company to let him not only work but also live remotely…”

Although America and the rest of the world are still in the very early stages of learning how to effectively work remotely or in distributed teams, this mode of work will be much more common twenty years from now. An increasingly large sector of the workforce will have the option to live hundreds or thousands of miles from their employer’s headquarters or legal address. Greater freedom to choose the location of a primary residence means other factors become more important than employer location, including

  • Housing costs.
  • Other cost-of-living factors.
  • Climate.
  • Quality of Life.
  • Family / relatives.
  • Regional culture.

If people in a region want to work to make their area more appealing to remote and distributed workers, especially ones with high-paying jobs, they can’t do much to change the climate or where relatives live. Probably the easiest thing to work on is making the culture of the area appealing to those highly mobile workers. Tech workers, especially digital nomads, will judge the culture of an area in many ways, but an important factor will be what type of presence technology and entrepreneurism have in the region.

Does Your Region Support Tech & Entrepreneurial Events?

It’s not that expensive or difficult to have a good variety of events for like-minded people in a region. A typical starting point is participant-driven informal events like those found through Meetup.com, with the cost for using the site’s name and services covered by meeting registration fees or an event sponsor.

partners and sponsors 2There can be a wide variety of more organized events focused on building the culture of the region if:

  • Someone is available and willing to organize and promote events.
  • Regional or national companies and organizations support the events.
  • Local media provide publicity and visibility for events and the community of like-minded people.
  • Appropriate venues are available for groups events.

If you want a better tech culture in your area and you’re a civic leader, an executive or decision-maker at a local company or organizations, or a highly influential person in your region, do you feel tech events help improve the culture of your region?

If the answer is yes, what are YOU doing to support more or better tech events?


101: Post #, Unconferences, Blogging, Highway, Ideas

Post # 101

According to my WordPress stats dashboard, this is post number 101 for Events Wrangling.

101Back in April, in the early days of this blog, I wrote the post “100…150…200 Consecutive Days” in which I set a goal of publishing a post on at least 200 consecutive days. Well, I’m halfway to that goal now, and it’s been fun thus far.

When I go on a road trip, four hours seems to last a long time if I’m only going on a five-hour journey. Similarly, if one has a goal of writing 120 consecutive daily posts (or 3 months worth), getting to the point of 101 consecutive posts would seem like a relatively long trudge. On the other hand, the first four hours of an eight-hour trip or four-day trip seem to fly right by. Because of that same mind-altering effect of perspective and expectations, the first 100 posts of this 200-post Journey seem to have flown right past in a flash.

Writing and publishing a post hasn’t seemed overly taxing on most days, although on the days immediately following my bout with food poisoning, it was a struggle to put together more than five or six words that made sense (to the extent that my words ever make sense), and it was even more of a struggle to proofread and publish them in a blog post.

timezonesAlso, in the early days of my Events Wrangling publishing, I didn’t realize that my WordPress account timezone was set five hours ahead. I just assumed WordPress would set the publish time for my blog the same as the clock setting on my laptop, which is generally local time where I am. But one day I noticed that WordPress was showing the same publishing date for posts that were written on two consecutive days. I couldn’t figure out what was going on at first, but then I poked around in my WordPress account and found the timezone off by five hours. That meant when I published a post after 7 PM local time, WordPress would stamp it as having been published after midnight (i.e. the next day). So I was sort of publishing in the future! 🙂 I promptly changed the timezone setting to correct that minor issue.

I’m looking forward to the next hundred posts. There are still hundreds of post topics I’d love to ramble on about, although another one of my goals is to work on writing shorter posts which still feel like they’re worth publishing. It’s challenging to cram all the thoughts about one topic zipping around my neural network into a cohesive story which is short enough that people will take time to read it…

Unconferences 101

unconference 2One of the informal goals for this blog is to be an advocate and resource for participant-driven events such as unconferences. I’m writing a series of posts about unconferences, which began with “Events Wrangling Basics For Unconferences.” There is also a separate page / tab on this blog for Unconference Resources.

[Which reminds me, I need to spend a few hours working on that page to make it more useful and complete…]

The article “How far does the Pokémon brand have to carry Pokémon Go?” examines in detail the value users can add to Pokémon Go and how user-generated value contributes to the success of gaming platforms. In today’s internet-connected world, there are many other examples of users creating tremendous value pikachuor being the driving force behind events and movements. When the users have the permission and tools for making their desires known and helping push their own agenda, that’s a great start towards making something people want.

The best way to get people to support and be involved with an activity is to convince them it was their idea to start with. Well, if an event is participant-driven, it pretty much was their idea to begin with. No convincing needed. From my perspective, “users” will add a tremendous amount of value if only the events wranglers will let them and can figure out how to effectively involve them in the design and execution of events.

If you feel there is significant value in highly-engaged meeting attendees but you don’t want to go to the hardcore unconference end of the event spectrum where every event goer is a participant and there are no attendees, check out Adrian Segar’s Conferences That WORK. His goal is to “create engaging conferences around the learning your attendees really want and need…to build meaningful, mutually beneficial connections between participants.”

Blogging 101

An intentional goal for the Events Wrangling blog is to improve my blogging and writing skills.

blogging fundamentalsYou may be thinking that’s a fitting goal and wishing me luck. And hoping that the improvement happens soon. So do I.

To assist in my quest for Bob’s Better Blogging, I enrolled in the Blogging 101 course, also know as Blogging: Fundamentals, at Automattic’s WordPress.com Blogging University. I learned a few more blogging skills and tips by completing that course, but still have a lonnnnng way to go.

I definitely need to take Blogging 102, or Blogging 201, whichever comes next after 101. In addition to Blogging: Fundamentals, WordPress.com’s Blogging U also offers the courses below, all for the nominal registration fee of zero, which happens to be my target price point.

There are also other free online courses designed to help you become a better blogger, but there are only so many hours in day, and not all of them can be spent blogging.

Highway 101

101 highwayI mentioned road trips at the start of this post. One of the roads I mentioned in “Road Trip Events, Part 2: History” was US Highway 101, which goes from Los Angeles, California, USA, to Tumwater, Washington. Of the 1540 miles of road between those two cities, my favorite miles are the ones that go through Humboldt County, California, especially the ones near Arcata. Redwood trees, almost-mountains, Pacific Ocean, mist-in-the-forest, and, at times, a two-lane road twisting and turning to avoid huge trees that have grown tall over hundreds of years. The best road trips ever happen on 101…

When Automattic hires me as an Events Wrangler, I can guarantee that at some point I’ll be on Highway 101 in Arcata while on my way to or from ahumboldt redwoodsn hours-long online session of events-focused work. I already know of at least six Arcata-area locations with reliable WiFi and an ambiance well-suited to a working Automattician. When not working, I’ll be walking through the redwoods, watching the Pacific Ocean waves roll in, or enjoying the nearby mountains. And maybe I’ll even be helping Humboldt residents organize and put on WordCamp Humboldt for people from Arcata, Eureka, McKinleyville, Fortuna, Petrolia and other far-flung parts of the county.

101 Post Ideas

I’m an engineer, so it seems useful to me to develop a list of future ideas to write about on this blog. I think I had a list of 20 topics when I wrote my first post for Events Wrangling. 100 posts later, I think that list has increased to approximately 101 ideas to write about. Some people have said they can’t think of anything to write about. I’m on the other extreme of “what should I write about?” There are so many things to write about that it’s mildly annoying not to have time to write all the posts that are struggling to be launched into cyberspace.

My Halfway-Post pretty much wrote itself. My mind is already thinking about post #201, wondering what it will say, hoping that the post quality has improved by then, and curious about whether I’ll revise my goal of 200 upward to a more ambitious goal of 365, 500, or even 1,000 consecutive daily posts.

My mind is also wondering if by the time post 200 rolls around I’ll be an Events Wrangler (upper case) working for Automattic… [By the way, they’re hiring!]


Road Kit: Events Wrangler & Digital Nomad

Peace On A Plane

Today’s post takes a look at what constitutes a respectable road kit for someone who is both an events wrangler and a digital nomad.

In her recent post “The week we had,” Pam Kotke highlighted two pieces of air travel kit she bought to have a more restful plane trip from the USA to Spain.airplane big pillow

“…Saved up some Amazon gift cards and got some amazing (and eye-wateringly expensive) noise cancelling earbuds. I feel quite confident that I’m going to snooze like a baby on the airplane next week because of these as well as this travel pillow I bought. YES I DID.

I don’t care in the least how goofy this looks if it means I can get a few hours of sleep on the plane. Erica and I arrive early Friday morning, and that night we have a presentation to give. So if I don’t sleep on the plane, it could get really ugly…”

Pam’s post got me thinking about stuff I take on a plane trip, an assortment of airline accompaniments put together over years of travel.

The gear, services, and practices one person needs to have the optimal experience, or at least an acceptable journey that leaves them smiling, from the time they walk through the door of their airplane until they walk back out that door upon arrival at their destination, will vary greatly from what many of their fellow travelers need.

Seven Items For POAP

boarding, peace on a planeHere’s a general list of the Seven Items I consider extremely helpful for achieving Peace On A Plane:

  1. Preparation.
  2. Attitude.
  3. Comfortable clothes and shoes.
  4. Smartphone & glasses.
  5. Boarding pass (hardcopy or on smartphone).
  6. Red backpack that will fit in overhead compartment.
  7. Personal bag that will easily fit under seat.

Preparation is the top item on the list for me. It’s on everyone’s written or unwritten list, but each person will prepare differently. And what you actually carry through the plane door isn’t preparation — it’s the end result of your preparations for the flight and for the overall trip.

peace symbolPeace is tremendously influenced by your mental and spiritual situation, so I also listed Attitude as one of seven carry-on items you’ll need — and this item applies to every passenger and crew member. One section of a single blog post isn’t going to change anyone’s attitude, but if you’ve never looked into mindfulness meditation, consider it. I’m certainly no expert on the topic, but I think most people could benefit from it if they got acquainted with mindfulness meditation through guided sessions and regularly practiced it. You’ll be able to use it whilst waiting for the flight to board and when sitting in your less-than-perfect aircraft seating.

Comfortable clothes and shoes, smartphone, glasses, and boarding pass are all items without which I would feel slightly naked, or at least uncomfortable. And they’re sort of “worn” rather than carried onboard. No explanation needed for clothes and shoes, and everyone has a different idea of what’s best for those items. A smartphone has become indispensable for digital nomads, as well as for many non-nomads around the world who can afford one and have available cellular or WiFi networks. For me, the glasses are needed to be able to use my smartphone… 😦 The boarding pass has two functions — the gate agent seems to want to see it before letting me board, and it shows my seat number.

Items Six and Seven are the two which get physically carried aboard, although they may be over your shoulder or on your back rather than in your hand. My goal is to have only two items to handle when walking onto the plane — a backpack and a personal bag. The backpack should contain most anything I’ll need for a couple days when my checked lostbaggage gets misplaced or we get stranded on an island like in Lost, Wrecked, or Swiss Family Robinson. My personal bag has everything I might want to access whilst seat-belted in during the flight or don’t want squished and squashed in the overhead. That includes a bottle of water and a paperback, as well as a couple survival items in case my backpack goes missing in that Lost scenario…

So that’s my list of boarding essentials. In future posts, I’ll spend more time on the details for each of the Seven Items.

Digital Nomad

As a digital nomad, I’m keenly interested in having quality tools (within my budget) that make connecting to the ‘net from (pretty much) anywhere an enjoyable and effective experience. Having been a digital nomad since the early 2000s, I know that having the right gear, tools, services, and practices can have a huge impact on your digital productivity and overall cyber-experience.

digital nomad backpackI’ve seen a number of posts over the past ten years about what digital nomads carry with them. A good recent example is Matt Mullenweg’s post, “What’s in My Bag, 2016 edition.” A couple others are “What’s in my pack?” (see picture on left), “Essential Entry-Level Work Gear for Digital Nomads,” “The Ultimate Digital Nomad Packing List for Travel,” and “The Digital Nomad’s Packing List (From a Girl Who Knows).”

I’ll describe my Digital Nomad Bug Out Bag contents in a future post, then update this post with a link.

As they say at Capital 1, “What’s In Your Digital Nomad Backpack?”

Road Warrior

road warriorUsing the term “road warrior” in this post is presumptuous on my part, but since that title is one to which I aspire, I used it anyway. I did much more airline travel in the corporate world than I’ve done in the past few years. Now all travel expenses are paid for out of my own pocket, and I don’t have a company paying me to work in different cities. When my goal of becoming an Events Wrangler is realized, I’ll likely be flying here and there more often. At that point, I’ll be leveling up my road warrior skills and kit.

As Abraham Lincoln is reputed to have said, “The best way to predict your future is to create it.” So this blog post and the future post wherein I will itemize my roadtrippin’ essentials are snapshots of me creating my future as a road warrior.

No links are included here for others’ posts about Road Warrior Gear because people’s needs and equipment lists vary so widely that it’s hard to find posts which relate well to my current situation and to the future I’m creating. This post will be updated with a link to my “road warrior essentials” post that I expect to publish roughly six months after being hired as an Automattic Events Wrangler…

Inspired By Neighbors

opte map of internet

Locate my neighborhoods on this Opte Project map of the internet?

As extra credit for my Blogging: Fundamentals course at WordPress.com Blogging University, I am launching an online search project to find (and get inspired by) cybercitizens in three neighborhoods — the ones inhabited by Airborne Adventurers, Digital Nomads, and Road Warriors. To help me find those neighborhoods, I’ve got Blogging U’s suggestions for finding good neighbors. Maybe it would even help to use some of the internet’s maps, like the colorful Barrett Lyon / Opte Project map mentioned by Kasperksy, or possibly xkcd’s map of internet communities (although that’s a bit dated).xkcd map of internet communities


It’s good to see new areas of the metaverse, meet new like-minded and complementary-minded people and stretch one’s knowledge, skills and comfort zones. Now if there were only a couple more hours in each day. Sigh…

Bon voyage! 🙂


Blogging U Homework

Blogging: Fundamentals, Day Nine — Get Inspired by the Neighbors

  • For Day Eight, you left comments on four other blogs.
  • Write a post that builds on one of these comments, and link to the other blog.
  • Give your post a few tags, including bloggingfundamentals, and publish it.

Blogging: Fundamentals, Day Ten: Build a Better Blogroll

  • Use a widget to create a blogroll, a list of links you love that you want to share with your readers.
  • Decide what kind of widget you want to use: the Blogs I Follow widget, or a Text widget.
  • Open the Customizer, then select Widgets, and add the widget you want to use.
  • Customize the widget’s settings and/or add your text, then click Save & Publish.

blogging fundamentalsYesterday’s post just didn’t lend itself to Day Nine’s assignment, so I combined Nine and Ten for today’s post. The Blogging U instructor said that was ok, and gave me ten points of extra credit for using my discretion rather than blindly following the course assignments…

A minor issue regarding the blogs listed in the blogroll text widget I added to Events Wrangling today is that I haven’t truly developed a list of cyberneighbor blogs that I want to advertise as “These Are My Favorite Blogs On The Internets.” What I put in the widget are #bloggingfundamentalsassignment blogs and a couple #eventswranglers blogs on which I’ve seen good posts. Six months from now, I’ll feel more comfortable about highlighting blogs which should be checked out by Events Wrangling readers.

Caveat: Publishing this post completes the Day Nine Assignment. I still have to create the blogroll text widget for Day Ten, which I’ll do after I publish today’s post and then figure out a couple blogs to list in the widget.