Tom Ortega II

Archive for the ‘Community’ Category

Building Community Virtually

In 360Conferences, Community, Technology and Software on October 30, 2007 at 8:05 am

Tonight I’ll be discussing ways with which to build community virtually. While I am a huge fan of face-to-face meetings, it simply is not always possible. I do a lot of administrative tasks for both Silvafug and 360Conferences virtually. Also, John and I strive hard to build the 360Flex community not only physically (when we have the conferences) but also virtually between conferences. I’ll be talking about how technologies such as blogs, IM, etc. help to accomplish that task.

You can see a more detailed write-up over at Daniel’s Blog. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention one minor detail. The event will take place inside Second Life. I’ll admit that I’m new to Second Life, but am exciting about some of the social opportunities that this new medium presents.

See you there!

Changes are afoot at 360Flex

In 360Conferences, 360Flex, Business, Community on October 19, 2007 at 7:04 am

First off, if you’ve gone to a 360Flex event or plan to someday, go answer this three question survey:

http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=yGMLUk_2f4IRYXqoobzijRuQ_3d_3d

The responses to that survey may fundamentally change the 360Flex Conference.

Business is so interesting. I didn’t graduate from Business School, so maybe they teach you a lot of this stuff there. However, I have read 200+ books on business in the 14+ years that I’ve been a part of the business community and very few books actually captured the essence of business life.

The beauty of business is it’s role. A business is there to serve it’s customers. Do a good job, you get to stick around. Do a bad job and you’re out. I think 360Conferences is doing a good job, but John and I are always looking for ways to improve. Over the past few days, some folks have made some remarks about the amount of money we spend on food at our conferences. They suggested that money would be better spent paying travel expenses for speakers rather than lining the hotel’s catering pocket.

John and I feel that food is a major part of the conference. We think it helps build the community. (You can find our full thoughts on our company blog.) Some of our customers have already stated they feel the same. If only there was a way to ask everyone else, to get a consensus. Well, guess what? There is. With the internet, a business can not only talk to all of its past and current customers, but also to all its future customers.

What John and I think is not important. We’re just facilitators for our customers: attendees, speakers and sponsors. If we’re wrong, then we must change. Just because we think something is cute or needed, doesn’t mean it is. Just because we think something is right, doesn’t mean it is. Our customers are the only ones that know what’s right. John and I are hear to make sure we do what’s right.

So far, we’ve had two conferences. With that, over $180,000 of our customers hard-earned cash has passed through our hands. 360 attendees came to eBay’s beautiful campus for 3 days. Another 360 spent 3 days with us in the Emerald City. Over 60 sessions have been given and countless knowledge has been shared. Many people have landed a “dream” Flex job or picked up some contracting work. Most importantly though, friendships have been made. Good times have been shared.

$180,000 may not seem like a lot of money to a big corporation. It’s a lot of money to me though. If it was $180, it would be a lot of money to me. Every dollar given in business is an honor that has to be earned. Each dollar comes with trust and deserves to be spent as wisely and efficiently as possible.

Now, if our customers decide to drop food for speaker fees, that’s fine. However, one person remarked after reading our cost breakdown post, “$80 per visitor per day for food? Wow, I must say I’m speechless. That must have been some orgy.” Now, I take great personal offense to that statement. To say that I would take our cutomers hard earned money and throw an “orgy” hurts. The reality is this: Each person was $59 dollars a day for breakfast, lunch and breaks. Plus, each water and or soda was an additional $5. Monday night BBQ was $25 per person. That is standard hotel pricing for food. “Why not use an outside caterer?” You can’t. “Why not order cheaper food?” That was darn near the cheapest. I wish hotels were cheaper, but they’re not. However, our customers said, “Move to one central location, like a hotel.” We did, and it was certainly not to have an “orgy”.

I stress over every dollar. John lets me handle the books. I let him handle me. I probably have the better deal. We are in debt from the last two shows. It’s only about $15K, but that’s $15K that we owe to the bank and we have to make good on it. This is why it’s important to us to get profitable. Unlike other conferences, we don’t have a corporate backing. No one writes off our losses as marketing for their training business, product business or consulting business. We’re just 2 developers looking to grow the community. Hopefully, we can continue to grow it for many years to come.

So once again, if you’ve gone to a 360Flex event or plan to someday, go answer this three question survey:

http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=yGMLUk_2f4IRYXqoobzijRuQ_3d_3d

It’s only 3 questions to you, but it’s worth quiet a bit more to me.

Thanks,

Tom

P.S. The live results of the survey can be found here:

http://www.surveymonkey.com/sr.aspx?sm=vYl0EBqFwQOrWCuur46_2bDfittExkiV1oYuHuVUgA6k8_3d

P.P.S

If you blog, please post the survey and/or the results link on your blog too.  We need as much feed back as necessary.

I’m at MAX

In 360Conferences, Business, Community, Workday on September 30, 2007 at 9:25 pm

If you’re at MAX, look for me. I’m wearing either a 360Flex or Workday shirt. John and I are walking around meeting all the 360Flex Alumni (speakers, attendees, sponsors) and looking for new future alumni. :)

I’m actually giving a session, “Intro to Flex”. It goes down Monday 4:30 to 5:30 and again on Wednesday 11 to 12. I’m really excited about my presentation. It should be a nice blend of Keynote (slides) and Flex Builder 2 (live coding). It’s the first time that I’m excited about my slides, as I usually think slides suck, but these slides are fun.

It’s awesome to represent two great companies at MAX: 360Conferences and Workday Inc. We’re both startups, both passionate about our customers and both looking to change the business that we’re in. With 360Conferences, I get to hang out with John Wilker, my business partner and, more importantly, my friend. With Workday, I work with a bunch of great people that I’m getting to know more and more each day. Do I feel lucky? I sure do. :)

If you haven’t said hi to me yet and you’re reading this post, then swing by one of my sessions. I’d love to hear any ideas you have about conferences. If you’re looking for Flex work, Workday is hiring and I can take your resume to hand back to HR.

See you at FlexCamp and 360Flex!

In 360Flex, Community, flex training, Silicon Valley Living, silvafug, Workday on July 27, 2007 at 8:25 am

Sorry for my long absence, but it’s been a busy past month.

We made the move from San Jose to Walnut Creek. The reason for the move was in an earlier post. I’m an employee at Workday, Inc. It’s a truly great company, doing some amazing stuff. The move and conference have prevented me from going hog wild on the code, but I’m rectifying that now by having some alone time with the code and trying to work on my bugs. If you’re heavy into Flex and want to do some amazing things that will change the ERP space, talk with us.

When and where can you meet us? At Adobe’s Flex Camp tonight. Me and some members of the Dev team will be there. I’ll be the loud laughing Mexican sporting a Workday t-shirt. Stop and say hi to me and the team. We may even demo what we’re working on if you ask nicely. =)

The other thing eating my time like nobody’s business is 360Flex Seattle. It’s going down August 13-15. John and I have been hard at work on this. Having a central hotel and proper conference space is bit more involved than just giving random hotel links and booking an internal corporate meeting space. =) That said though, this one is going to blow away the first 360Flex conference. We’ll have some cool oversized postcards promoting 360Flex to give out at Flex Camp, so look for them! Hint: They’ll be next to the cool green 360Flex t-shirt!

I love meeting and interacting with members of the Flex community, new and old. If you’re a newbie, check out my free trainings at the Silvafug site. Stop and ask me about any roadblocks your facing while starting up. If you’re a guru, stop and chat too. I’m always interested in meeting those folks that are taking Flex to the next level.

See ya soon!

Community: What does it mean and how can I help?

In 360Flex, Community, Silicon Valley Living, silvafug, Technology and Software on June 28, 2007 at 7:05 am

I like communities, but do you? When you hear the word “Community”, what comes to mind? Do you participate in communities? If so, why? If not, why?

With Silvafug and 360Flex, I’ve come to realize that I like to serve the community. It makes me feel good that I can help you all learn some new tech skills while providing a place for you all to network. I think it’s equally important for us as people to develop socially as it is for us as developers to grow mentally.

I have an idea on what to build next, but I thought I’d get some feedback from you all first. Is there a void in the community space that you think needs filling? Is there something I can do to better serve you all? Just hit up the comments or email me personally at tom.ortega@gmail.com and I’ll try to answer as best I can.

Otherwise, stay tuned for more info on my next community adventure. I hope you’ll find it as exciting as I do.

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