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September 2011

What 9/11 Taught Me

I was really dreading the run-up to the 10th anniversary of 9/11.  I was thinking that the emotions were still too raw, too unresolved... even after ten years.  Mostly, I was thinking that I didn't want to think about 9/11 as something that happened in the past. Because it's not really in the past.  It's like looking back on Pearl Harbor while World War II is still going on.

That said, I thought it would be valuable to ask, "what have I learned?".

  • I learned who Al Qaeda was (and is)... and that there are still people in this world that can twist a religious belief into justification for imposing their will on others.
  • I learned to hug my kids and my wife, every day.
  • I learned to fear planes in the air, at least for a while.
  • I wondered if Flight 93 would someday represent the beginning of the end for Al Qaeda.
  • I added "how to respond to a terrorist attempt to take over the plane" to my mental pre-flight checklist while checking for the nearest exit.
  • I got over my shyness about reporting suspicious packages in public places.
  • I witnessed grass-roots patriotism as people bought or created US flags to tape to their car windows.
  • I learned to cut people some slack as discussion and reaction flowed on the message boards and websites immediately after 9/11.
  • I decided that I would not be intimidated.
  • I embraced my Muslim friends.
  • I dug into the history and politics of Central Asia.
  • I tried to understand the daily life of people in Afghanistan and elsewhere.
  • I said "thank you" to a New York cop.

There's no finishing thought, no dramatic conclusion where all the loose ends are tied up and we go to commercial.  And that's as it should be.  Because this story has not been fully told.


A Tweet-ful of DreamForce

I took advantage of a free offer (not offered by Groupon, FYI) to attend DreamForce, Salesforce.com's annual tradeshow and love-fest.  I've been thinking I have skills transferable to the SaaS industry (a view yet to be endorsed by hiring companies) and figured I would head up to San Francisco to see what companies were part of the salesforce "ecosystem".  Here are my observations, in tweet-sized bites.

  • I'm glad I drove to Moscone Center, vs. taking the train.  Three hours of travel for an hour or so of walking around would have seemed like a waste.
  • To the parking lots that doubled their rates this week:  way to keep it classy!
  • It's always a treat to find free parking in San Francisco; my Dad would have been proud!
  • You have to love Larry Ellison.  He hires people to walk around outside Moscone Center with cloud-shaped balloons proclaiming "Oracle, #1 in CRM".
  • Confidential to Larry:  sorry about that $1.3B smack-down from the Court of Appeals.
  • Apparently this is the ninth year of DreamForce, leading to the cute and inevitable "Welcome to Cloud 9".
  • Salesforce's force.com, data.com, service.com and so on... very confusing.
  • Interesting to attend a trade show with no Oracle, SAP, or Microsoft.
  • BMC's "Remedy for Salesforce" or whatever it was called... why do I have the feeling this looks like the old DOS programs that ran in a Window?
  • Accenture, Deloitte and CapGemini here looking for business.  That seems like a tough sell.
  • iPads way outnumber laptops.
  • Most of the exhibiting companies are involved in the various stages of the marketing-sales process:  quote, order, customer engagement, marketing analytics, customer service and so on.
  • All my favorite Identity Management companies were there: Ping Identity, Okta, Symplified.  Still an idea looking for a market.
  • Box.net exhibited, but not Dropbox.  I guess that confirms what market each company is targeting.
  • Saw Neal Young on the rebroadcast of Benioff's keynote.  Don't know if that was hip or sad.
  • Most over-the-top exhibit:  the guy dressed as the "For Dummies" character.  Second place: the exhibitors dressed with green wigs.
  • Gamification... really?
  • I finally understand that iPass isn't SaaS; it's IaaS.  Or MaaS (mobility-as-a-service) if you want to make up another acronym.
  • A day like yesterday makes it easy to love working in San Francisco!