Türchen 14: The truth about Magento event organization…

Dec
14
2017

If I would ask you to complete the sentence:

"The Magento community is…"

you will perhaps answer:

  • amazing
  • kind
  • selfless
  • engaged
  • restless
  • funny

And if I would ask you, to name me a few persons of the communtiy you will perhaps say:

  • Jisse
  • Sander
  • Fabian B.
  • Andra
  • MANY MORE!
  • …. (me?)

What those people have in common: they are organizing events. Mostly in their spare time. Not in order to earn money.

What is their motivation to do so? What are good and bad moments?

That's what I asked a few of them. And here are the wonderful answers!

Fabian Blechschmidt had the idea to initiate the MageUnconference and the WEucEU. Sander Mangel is one of the organzizers of the MageUnconference in the Netherlands and the Meet Magento Netherlands, and this year Jisse Reitsma organized the unique MageTestFest. And me, Carmen, I have the honor to be a part of the amazing MageUnconference team.

What motivates you to plan an event?

Fabian:

It is fun to make other people happy. And MY events make people happy 🙂 I like to know people. And connecting peoples is very powerful. There are always people who are better in something. And it annoys me when people waste time, because they do something on their own. Learning something is a complete different thing. But doing something because you don't know someone who does it better AND you doesn't like it? This drives me nuts.

Jisse:

The major thing that drives me to organize events like MageTestFest is to share a vision with others, trying to move the community forward to a new level. However, that might also be just a phony reason, because I have also come to realize that I simply feel an urge to work my ass off for something that others are happy with.

Sander:

Event planning is a drug, at least Magento events. It's a one day high that is proceeded days of stress, panic and all that kind of emotional rollercoaster stuff.
Still seeing everyone together that day, our dev community from the Netherlands and abroad, hearing from people traveling hours or days to come there and talking to merchants who fell in love with Magento because of what they heard at the event totally makes it worth while.

Carmen:

For me idea to do things together started at the hackathons. To share knowledge. Share frustration. Share joy. This make me want to do more. Hear more. Meet more people. Meet different people. It's true. It's a drug. And I'm addicted.

Tell me three words you associate with organizing an event:

Fabian:

Team, work, always too late (this is one word, right? RIGHT?)

Jisse:

sweat, running, fun

Sander:

So three words are "stress", "a high" and "teamwork"

Carmen:

Team, work, gin (this is also one word, right? RIGHT?)

Tell me the greatest/best/funniest/etc moment during the preparation of the event

Fabian:

Unfortunately I'm really bad with remembering things – really bad. Therefore I'm very thankful for the teams I have the honour to work with and the evenings, telephone conferences and nights were we just talk and they remind me of all the great things we achieved and experience together.

Jisse:

I have been organizing three major events so far (two times a Magento 2 Seminar and of course MageTestFest), plus numerous local usergroups. And in preparation of all this, I went out various times to have diner with my designer Ruben to talk about the graphical experience. And to get good ideas, we always open up various bottles of wine: The inspiration gets intenser by the hour. Suddenly, he or me leaps up and shouts out that handing out "Drunk Developer" shirts during MageTestFest is a great idea or that a MUGMUG (a mug with MUG printed on it) is a great way for promoting Magento User Groups. I have fun with all team members as well, but with Ruben, I need to be drunk.

Sander:

Oh that's hard, there are many funny moments, mostly small ones, just the insanity of day to day event planning.

Carmen:

1. The moment we arrived with my "cute" hand truck at the bakery where TONS of bread and cakes were waiting for us in head high boxes. And 2.: the moment the “receptionist” at our venue “Startplatz” get stunned and shocked because of all the food we brought along. She said: “Never before we had a conference with that much food!”

Was there a real fucked up moment too?

Fabian:

As already mentioned, I don't remember. Literally. Beside this, the worst moments I encounter are moments, were one forgot a huge spending and we don't have any idea how to pay this (from our budget), happened twice. But in the end, everything turned out well. Party was cheaper, food was cheaper or we had more attendees to fix this.
A second thing which burnt into my mind: On Mallorca, during the last WEucEU we had a really drunk guy – not part of our group. This was uncomfortable for me too. Thankfully the bar tender took care of him. And it got really ugly when the police showed up and he didn't want to follow. Visualising I have to take care of that scares me. Although I'm sure I handle that – somehow.

Jisse:

When you organize an event, you need to be a perfectionist. Otherwise the event you are putting down will be sloppy. Earlier, we had a sponsor leave the event because they were angry of not getting enough exposure. While we felt that walking off was not the answer – actually the costs versus attendees ratio was beating any other Magento event – this was an awefull experience, because sponsors are the fuel for an event: Without them, most events wouldn't come to being. This does not mean that you have to give away more, but it does mean that you have to go the extra length to make sure all sponsors are happy. Communicate often with them, valueing their feedback, etcetera.

Sander:

Fortunately we always managed to fix stuff but the most fucked up moment was 2 years ago I think when our keynote speaker didn't show up until 3 minutes before his presentation.
And I don't mean at the stage but at the registration desk. Not answering his phone or email that day at all. we were freaking out.

Carmen:

No. Everything that threatened to turn into a disaster turned to a funny moment at the same time.

What is or was the best feedback after the event?

Fabian:

Rico once said, look on the pictures we made – everyone is smiling and happy. I think this is a very good feedback.

Jisse:

With earlier events, there were numerous topics to deal with. With MageTestFest, there was a pure focus on testing. And though I knew it would be a success, you still need others to validate this. So I was really happy with the feedback. Not necessarily with that the event was awesome, the opening was legendary, the soundtrack cool. But the best feedback was actually that people now knew how to add tests properly to their codebase, improving their coding skills. In the end, having fun is one thing, but to guide people into a better workflow is really worth it!

Sander:

Best feedback again is hard. We had so much. Fabian B left me a lovely note ones and I've received many nice words from attendees.

Carmen:

The answers to the question "What is your favorite Magento event?" in the Magento family feud game… MageUnconference had won the most votes…

Merry christmas and a happy new event year!

Carmen

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