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Wow.  To say ‘day’, well it just doesn’t seem to do it justice.  Perhaps week, because it feels like a week of being entertained and stuffed full of information.

This article is my way of reflecting on the experience.  Technical articles will come hereafter.  So if you don’t mind me rambling in my overly thankful manner, I’ll try and paint the picture that 30 of us just got to see, and would like you to experience a bit of as well. 

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First off the PR team dealt with the press and techies (on the west coast they’re techies, on the east coast they are geeks I think).  I like to call them ‘handlers’.  They are all very polite and understanding.  I know they are paid to be nice, but I think everyone in this group must TRULY be really wonderful (and very dynamic) people off the clock. It takes a special person to be able to listen to all these people and REMEMBER every detail about each guest.

They were all very knowledgeable, and always knew exactly which person to get you to, when ANY question comes up.  The most surprising aspect of the PR team wasn’t the extremely warm reassurance that I joked so much about at the events, but instead when they said, “You really need to talk with ‘so-and-so’ “, they really meant, “and I’ll drag him or her out of their office kicking and screaming to meet you asap”.  I’m not joking either…all with a warm smile.

Just for fun (my brand of humor) I’ll describe one of these great people that really worked hard for me. Sweet voice, reassuring manner, beautiful smile, (you know, the whole PR package), with a serious eyebrow raise that probably scares the crap out of technicians.  I can imagine her tracking down some technical marketing person hiding in an obscure location, tapping her foot as she holds the door open for them to go make an appearance that she insists upon. (I’m laughing hysterically while I write this)

Maybe I just like warm people; they were all amazing, each in their own way.  A great team collaboration.

Then there is the Technical Marketing team.  Kind of where the rubber meets the road.  These folks are really in touch with the market and the technology.  What I have found is that they can convey topics and application perspectives in a manner that takes you beyond our specific limited perceptions, into the perceptions of the market and the insight of the company as a whole. 

You can begin to see why decisions are made in a new light, and I think that is probably one of the most compelling reasons for our invitations.

The upper end of the food chain was VERY reachable.  I mean down to earth people that were not afraid to take on any question, and answered EVERYTHING about the technology or industry decisions.

The general staff was personable, and everyone, down to the dude that rounded up plates and cups were thankful for us to be there.

Reception

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We were invited to an evening reception where we were introduced to the Autodesk team, and the media journalists that were in attendance.  This gave us a bit of a change to break the ice with each other, and that made things much easier and more dynamic the following day.  Kind of easing us onto the roller coaster that was to follow. 

They invited technical journalists from all over the world.  Great Britain, Brazil , India and China were attending as well as America.  There were likely more countries represented, but I could not say for certain, and I apologize to my new friends if I left you out.  It should also be noted that these were very educated journalists with technical backgrounds. It gave a wonderful opportunity to get perspectives on industry that we might not normally be permitted.  Some great personalities as well.

There were a few nice drink choices, and a really cool bartender that made sure my beer was cold and ready.  Buzz was very kind to mention my name during the opening.  I was quite surprised, and my handlers just said, “Trust me, this is a good thing, just roll with it”.  Hey, I’m not complaining, just pleasantly surprised.

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Hey, why are there seat belts in these chairs?

The next day we all assembled back at the office.  Buzz started things off with a slide show of Client projects and things to come; one of my projects on the screen as well. Ha!  Thanks Autodesk, very complimentary.  He describes the day to come, and tags it with the phrase that we will hear over and over: “3D is Not Enough”.

The handlers herd us in groups of 8 or so, from one office to another where the Technical marketers and development leads discuss the products in their respective purviews, and then demonstrate the new functionality; the amazing new developments, and how smoothly the products function together.  Everything they are marketing was demonstrated with detail that has not yet been seen in any presentation before.  A lot of detail.

I’m fairly well acquainted with the product lines, but some of the interactions I witnessed were calling to me. I wanted to yell “it’s my turn next”, but I think my handler would give me the raised eyebrow.

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After each session, they asked if there were any questions.  There was at least one occasions that my group was just slack jawed and wide eyed.  It took a few breaths to make coherent sentences. Thank God for the seat belts.

Breaks between sessions and lunches give us time to compare notes between the groups, and then head off to another session. 

Afterwards we returned together for an informal Q&A session with Buzz on stage, where he answered the few questions that were asked. There were rather few questions poised… But then one rarely asks for water after being blasted with a fire hose for 8 hours.

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“the guy with the HUGE laptop”

There was an understanding that as a social media journalist, that I was to get some tweeting in.  I cannot operate 2 blackberrys at once like Flayler (you should have seen it, amazing speed).  Instead I use what I have: a phone, a small Nikon, and a old HUGE dell XPS workstation.  It may look humorous, but I laid down some twitter, posted real time photos, and took notes simultaneously.  Low rent iPhone/netbook.  Perhaps next year I can get in the media groove with a net book and an iPhone.

PR Dinner

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Autodesk very graciously took us all out to dinner where we were able to spend some time chatting over wine, beer, and great appetizers.  Then supper was served, and we had some great food, and just chatted until they shut down the bar. 

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A few Technical marketers were getting together afterwards, and we tagged along with Rob as he took us on a walking tour of the back streets of Portland while he tried to get his iPhone map app to work.  Eventually he got us to the correct pub with a good selection of microbrews. After a beer, some cool tech chat and a lot of laughs, my group decides to go home.  Something about needing sleep before an early morning? 

One more meeting

So PR arranged a meeting with Kevin Schneider and Rob Cohee, who agreed to join me for breakfast the following morning.  We had a nice conversation and I got some great perspectives on trends, and finally got the brick wall I wanted to hit. Yes, I ask too many questions about things I’m not supposed to.

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Wow..So it’s over?

Autodesk loaded me down with tons of info to write about, a lot of direction to consider, and a load of people to confer with when a problem arises.  I am fired up to start ripping off some tech articles.  Keep checking back for tech articles and my personal brand of using and leveraging technology in the months to come

…But for now, I need a lot of sleep.