Behind the Scenes
When I first started talking with Jim Bob about Nairobi, I saw he had a vision. He had contacts in Kenya and was very passionate about going to Nairobi. I explained to him at the time that we were considering doing a Sharing The Point tour in Africa and that this would make a great stop. As the group of STP (Sharing The Point) speakers got together we first started with a lot of options and narrowed the list down to starting in either Capetown or Johannesburg to kick off the tour and then dive deep into areas where community hasn’t existed in the past. I’ve had a couple of opportunities to speak in Johannesburg and Capetown and have had no doubts that the community has been growing in those areas quite rapidly over the past 3-4 years. I remember the first SharePoint Saturday event in Capetown where we had about 20 people sign up and had maybe 6 people in my session. Zlatan (SharePoint MVP who since moved to LA) did a great job creating some of those first sparks required to get the community off the ground. This year Capetown really rocked it. Huge event! Over 400 ultimately registered for the event, and over a dozen top speakers Alistair Pugin, organized what is understood to be the largest SharePoint event in Africa. Sharing the Point worked side by side with Alistair on all events this time around. He helped us secure the venues working with Felix in Johannesburg, and Jim Bob and Alistair worked out the final logistics for Nairobi. The speaker dinner at Carnivore was a hit (pictured below). So many different kinds of meats from Ostrich to Crocodile and lots more.
The first thing to understand is the event was over booked. We had over 250 registered for a venue that comfortably could host 100, but we were able to work around congestion during the breakout sessions. I’m not sure what the final numbers were, but over the course of the day there were over 100 from my count. In the first round of sessions I warmed up the audience as Michael Noel was getting his connection setup. The people were quiet at first, and seemed to only be talking to me, but as the day went on they really warmed up and we had an extremely interactive session after lunch in my Intranet evolutions session.
During lunch in Mark Miller’s Community session we co-delivered it with many of the STP speakers. It was a great discussion on building community. During the session Eric Harlan described how he helped build the community in Baltimore with the Baltimore SharePoint User Group with 3 members. I shared some experiences based on my work with the communities in Seattle, and Utah as well as experiences with User Groups around the world. At the end of the session we asked that those intererested in helping form the user group and be part of the committee, to come to the front of the room all of the room stood up and walked forward. It was pretty incredible. We asked them to go back to their seats and we gathered business cards and emails. An amazing thing was happening, we had over 50 who were fully engaged and very passionate about getting a user group started. It warmed my heart. I haven’t seen this much passion in a long time. I’ve been very very lucky to be part of the launch of many communities around the world, which is really one of the core values of Sharing the Point…. Building communities. I shared my experience with what happened in Manilla. We came in and there wasn’t something organized. We left with a community with enough fire. I see a lot of fire in Nairobi. This group is going to be amazing. I hope to come back sometime soon.