Friday, March 4, 2011

The Greatest Outcome

Well, 6 months of hard work, planning, endless phone calls, emails, accolades, assaults, cancellations, headaches, strong cups of coffee, sponsorship groveling, blogging, writing, and finally making it all happen are over.

My Smart Grid Security East conference was a success.  With the help of all the wonderful speakers, sponsors, and my own team, we made it happen.   We have a bunch of videos to edit and post on the site, and some papers, presentations, and slide shows to upload, but the lion's share of the work is done.

It is quite overwhelming when so many brilliant people tell you how wonderful something you built is.  These are all people I respect TREMENDOUSLY, and I cannot help feeling elated by their approval.  It is both exhilarating and humbling.  I would love to list them all in this blog posting, but you would probably stop reading halfway through the list, and I want to bring up a far more important hang on.

As my conference drew to a close, I reflected on all the moments I felt defined my sense of accomplishment for this event.  There was the opportunity to sit down to lunch with Bill Hunteman, Senior Advisor for Cyber Security for the US Department of Energy, who chatted openly about the DOE's roll and challenges.  Then there was the opportunity to enjoy breakfast with Matt Carpenter and Michael Assante.  I had an opportunity to converse extensively with the young, brilliant, and very "neighborly" Travis Goodspeed, who exposes security flaws in between pints of his favorite IPA's.  I enjoyed countless meals and moments with Daniel Thanos of GE Energy, and Bobby Brown of EnerNex, and Erich Gunther (who wears so many hats...well, lets just say he is everywhere).

Then there were all the wonderful AMI security minds.  There was Ed Beroset of Elster, and Stephen Chasko of Landis+Gyr, and Ido Dubrawsky and Robert Former of Itron.  All brilliant people working hard to build the products that we will rely on to securely manage our energy infrastructure going forward.

I literally could go on for several pages, but suffice it to say I had many "moments" with some great people.

Yet, life has a way of showing you what really matters right at the moment when you think you have it all figured out.  As I was leaving the conference hall at the final moments of the event, I was approached by a lovely young lady, who goes by the name of Summer.  She had won a free pass to my conference through a contest Andy Bochman of the Smart Grid Security Blog held.

She had contacted me by email after she won, and was thrilled because she is focusing her studies on Smart Grid cyber security, and she was attending school at the nearby Tennessee Tech University.  I welcomed her and told her she could bring along someone else from the school as a guest of the conference.

As Summer approached me, her young face broke out into a huge smile, and she profusely thanked me for the event and the opportunity to hear from the brightest minds in the world of Smart Grid security.  She then told me that the person she had brought with her had decided to change his thesis topic to Smart Grid security.

It was at that moment that I felt truly humbled.  As I get older (and hopefully wiser), and raise my children to be the best that they can be, the things that matter the most to me are maturing.  There was a time when I felt it would be great to be remarkably wealthy (okay, I still think that would be great), or achieve great fame (granted, that wouldn't be so bad either), but what matters the most is when you find a way to be the change you want to see.  I look at so much of what our youth has to deal with today, and often wonder how they can possibly cope with the mess they have been given.  I wonder where they can look for any guidance that will in any way affect them in a positive manner, and at that moment realized that something I had created served to positively influence at least 2 young minds.

Wouldn't we all like to do that?

Be the change you want to see...

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