Monday, October 10, 2011

My Sally Field Moment

My third Smart Grid Security Summit has drawn to a close.  This past week in San Diego was a seminal event in my life as a conference chairman.  For the last 3 weeks I have been working out a hundred plus details that no amount of advance preparation ever prepares you for.  Anyone who has ever put on a conference is keenly aware of that.  For those who have not, I would describe it as something akin to the excitement of the descent from the peak of a roller coaster coupled with the fact that you decided to finish you children's corn dogs.

When I stated the Smart Grid Security Summit my intention was to build my network and get some like-minded people together to chat about what was, and continues to be, an important topic.  We had around 100 people show up, and 1 sponsor (SAIC).  We were so proud of that event, and I still harbor fierce loyalty for those who helped make that event what it was.  We knew we had something, and built on it.  The second event was held in Knoxville in early 2011, and we had around 10 times the sponsorship, and double the attendance.  Most importantly, we had asset owners coming to the event to both participate as speakers and join the crowd of attendees.  We were sure we had something of value at this point.  Let's face it, Knoxville is a really nice place, but it is certainly not a "conference boondoggle" location.  People showed up because they had a thirst for knowledge and because they wanted to communicate with people who understand what they need, and we delivered that.

The third event say us partner with the Energy Sector Security Consortium (EnergySec), and we were blessed with lots of great sponsorship, and perhaps the finest selection of speakers and attendees to date (although that is a tough call, since both of our other events had fantastic speakers and attendees).  It just seems to keep getting better and better as time goes by.  I tried to take the time to speak to everyone I ran into at this event, with around 15 sponsors and around 250 attendees, but found myself nearly overwhelmed by the outpouring of interest in the event, the massive amount of networking going on, the fantastic sessions, and the constant outpouring of love from all who took the time to come up to me and tell me what a fantastic event our little conference has grown into.

I cannot help thinking about that famous Sally Field moment, when she accepted the Oscar for her starring role in the 1984 drama "Places In The Heart".  She took the stage after receiving the Oscar and gushed "I haven't had an orthodox career, and I've wanted more than anything to have your respect. The first time I didn't feel it, but this time I feel it, and I can't deny the fact that you like me, right now, you like me!"

Peer acceptance is what we all crave in our careers, regardless of what we may think or say about the subject.  I am humbled by everyone's acceptance and love, and will continue to deliver the quality you have all come to expect.

Kindest Regards,

Mike Ahmadi
Conference Chairman

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