Knocked off course #vDM30in30 day 4

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I had plans to write in depth about danger pipelines pose to our nation’s water supply, and the under-handed methods the pipeline companies are using to get the land on which the pipelines will be laid. This topic was top of mind yesterday I because I attended a rally at the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission (TPWC), where Energy Transfer Partners CEO was attending the TPWC’s board meeting.

Let that sink in. The man behind the Dakota Access Pipeline, 2 pipelines in West Texas, and a pipeline in S Ga/N Fla (where it traverses aquifers), is also a board member on the TWPC. Insane.

I also worked today, and I’m getting ready to move into my new house. But I got some really bad news from back home, and I really can’t concentrate long enough to string sentences together.

I think we forget we’re human sometimes. We forget that no matter how well we plan, no matter the contingency plans we put in place for unexpected events, things are still going to happen that will knock us off our paths. It’s important to remember that this is true for everyone; it is part of the human condition. Being kind and open means looking past someone’s grating behavior or just plain meanness and remembering that we can’t always know what’s driving that behavior. Love is love is love means showing kindness even in the face of bad behavior. Love each other y’all.

I’m a little bummed I’m not writing on my intended topic. Instead, I’ll leave you with a video. Hopefully I’ll be in be in better shape to write tomorrow.

This video is of the resistance to the Dakota Pipeline being built by Energy Transfer Partners in North Dakota. These people came to pray at this place, because it’s a burial site, and the law enforcement officers who are protecting ETP workers did this to them. I keep sharing the news because the mainstream media isn’t showing it.

And the crazy thing is that this same company has been taking land from farmers and claiming sacred places as theirs in Texas and in the Southeast.

My crazy life – #vdm30in30 Day 3

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This may look like a filler post, and hey, maybe it is. #vDM30in30 is a marathon though, and not a race. I swear I’ll get back to talking ITSM and monitoring soon, but right now there is so much going on. This is my post to let y’all know why it will be a few days before I go writing back to tech.

I started this new job at SolarWinds on Sept 19. So I’ve been in this role for about six weeks. On week 2, I went to Ignite. Since then, I’ve been learning the product and getting ramped back up on ITSM and monitoring in general. It’s been a while….back to when I was a customer!

Back in early August, I stkeepcalmarted the process of buying a house. The plan was to buy a house before my lease was up in December. Then my landlady told me she was going to sell the house I rent from her. I live in an “up and coming” neighborhood, and have no desire to pay up and coming prices for an 80-year old house. So while I was at VMworld, the finance folks told me as soon as I came home I needed to find a house if I wanted to be in it before my lease ran out.

Well, I found a house. Everything just worked out, and I’m moving in on Friday. I’m super busy with move stuff, so I’ll be so happy to be in the house this weekend! I should be packing right now……

……………..but I am exhausted from running things back and forth.

socialy-protect-the-earth-against-the-black-snake-nodaplAnd of course the action defending Standing Rock from the Dakota Access Pipeline has been going on during this time too. During my time off between jobs, I almost went up there, but decided there were better ways for me to help. The ongoing genocide of native peoples is just obvious now. That, coupled with the danger to our environment from for-profit oil companies just needs to be called out. But that’s for tomorrow’s post. 🙂

The next couple of posts this month are going to be about what I’m going through on a personal level. I promise I’ll get back to speeds and feeds after that. Ok, I’m not going to write about speeds and feeds, y’all know I don’t like that mess. 🙂

 

What does a product marketer do?

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Product Marketing is probably the best job role I’ve held during my career. I’ve been a PMM (product marketing manager) at Dell, EMC, Dell-EMC (ok, just for 1 day!), and now at SolarWinds.

What is Product Marketing?

PMMs are responsible for messaging for a product. This means we develop the words that describe a product internally and externally. We are usually responsible for the product pages on a website, the datasheet, and other product-centric content. We are also responsible for training and enabling sales. This means we plan and execute training, as well as any content sales may need to better sell the product (battle cards, competitive analysis docs, etc).

PMMs also run product launches. They plan launch messaging, advise marketing teams where and how to do campaign, partner, demand gen, and any other type of corporate marketing. They make sure sales is ready for the launch, and ensure all the existing content gets updated with the new launch materials.

Product marketers have to keep their pulse on the market to understand which levers to pull to make a difference with their product. They have to have a very tight relationship with their Product Managers (PMs) to understand the roadmap and direction for the product, and to keep the expectations of sales and marketing in check. PMMs also help their PM by letting them know if planned features even have a market.

As you can see, there is so much to do!

How is product marketing different than technical marketing?

Sometimes PMMs also do technical marketing, especially if they are working on a very technical product. But it’s always really nice if a PMM has a tech marketer on her team. Tech marketers go deep into the tech, writing content that explains the nuances of products. They often are also evangelists at trade shows and in customer meetings. They also have good relationships with PMs, and can act as the voice of the customer and of reason when it comes to making product decisions.

Considerations if you choose this path

Maybe you’re reading this and thinking “hey! I’d like a job like that”! Here are something to think about. First of all, Product Marketing is different in every single company. I prefer to work in organizations where Product Marketing reports up through engineering vs through marketing. In my experience, if you report to marketing many times you’ll end up being a content monkey vs driving the messaging and strategy.

Most of all, if you don’t like getting your hands dirty in every part of communicating about a product, this may not be the job for you. If you need a certain type of document, you may have to write it the first time and model what is needed for your marketing organization. You may have to really push back on your PM or a marketing executive about messaging or product release timelines.

Personally, I love being in the middle of everything. I love being connected to customers, and love being connected to the technology. I hope y’all understand now why I remind everyone I’m not a marketer, I’m a product marketer!

eye of the hurricane

#vdm30in30 starts now!

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#vdm30in30 is a blogging challenge that’s been going on for 2 years now. The challenge is to write a blog post every day in November. VDM is the Virtual Design Master event, but they are nice enough to let anyone in our community particpate in the blogging challenge.

I like to participate because it forces me to write outside of the things I write every day for work. Even though I’m new to my current role, there’s only so much my brain can take when it comes to monitoring. I also think practicing writing about other things helps improve my perspective on my work writing.

I’m going to include my writing from other blogs, but I’ll keep track of everything here on this blog.

My first post is actually published on 24x7ITConnection, and it’s about how compelling tech that is created by the American military is being used to monitor and control US citizens. Do we, as technologists, have a moral obligation to speak up when good tech is used for bad? The post is here.

Looking forward to this month. Maybe I’ll do 30 this year! 🙂

 

Fall is my new year

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I don’t know what it is about this time of year, but I always feel like there are endless possibilities in the fall. Maybe it’s because my birthday is in October. Maybe it’s the excitement of harvest time, and preparing for the cold winter months. Maybe it’s that the weather is perfect, warm (instead of HOT), less humidity. Maybe it’s because college football starts up.

I just love this time of year.

Good morning y’all #sunrise #beach

A photo posted by gina (@gminks) on

This fall is going to be crazy busy for me. I’m finally buying a house in Austin. My son and his girlfriend have moved to Austin. Oh yeah and I start a new job tomorrow!

I’m starting at SolarWinds as the PMM (Product Marketing Manager) for their Server and Application Manager (SAM) product. This is taking me back to my roots! The first job I had out of college was at EMC as a technical trainer, and the first product class I taught was for Control Center 5 – all about monitoring the components of an EMC SAN. I was also a sysadmin the years I didn’t work for a vendor. So, I’m excited to get back to this world.

I’m also excited to be working with folks I worked with at Dell, James Honey and Kong Yang. And I get to work with the Head Geeks at SolarWinds, a team of technical evangelists with a strong user community. For a technical product marketer like myself, joining a team that *gets* community is like a dream come true.

I’ll be at Ignite next week. I have booth duty so be sure to stop by, I’m interested in hearing about how people are monitoring their Microsoft stacks (on and off-premises).

I’m really looking forward to this new chapter. Happy fall y’all!

In Austin? Come support a team going to Standing Rock

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ICYMI, hundreds of Indian Nations are gathering in North Dakota to stand with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe against the Dakota Pipeline, which threatens not only the tribe’s water, but the water of anyone in the Missouri River basin.

The gathering is historic. This is the first time the 7 Lakota nations have been united since the Battle of Little Big Horn. The community that has been built to sustain the action is just amazing.

The people there consider themselves water protectors. And they’re in it for the long haul.

That’s why several Austin communities have been holding fundraisers to gather donations to send up to Standing Rock. Today (Friday Sept 16), there is a benefit event for the effort. It starts at 6 at the 1st Universal Unitarian Church of Austin. All the details are here. Here is the list of items they need, if you’d like to donate bring it by. There will be dancers and singers, it should be pretty awesome!

TENTS & TARPS
BANNERS, SHEETS
BATTERY-AA, D, C
BATTERY PACKS FOR CHARGING PHONES
BLANKETS- HEAVY
COTS
FOLDING TABLES
HAIRNETS & CAPS
LANTERNS, FLASHLIGHTS, LED LIGHTS
LAUNDRY SOAP, BIODEGRADABLE
LIGHTER, MATCHES
MEDICAL, FIRST AID, AND HEALING SUPPLIES (no alcohol tinctures)
MALLETS, CHAINSAW FILE, TOOLS FOR SHELF/CAMP BUILDING
MATERIAL FOR TOBACCO TIES
PAINT & BANNER CLOTH
MENSTRUAL SUPPLIES & POISE FOR ELDERS
RAIN COATS, PONCHOS
ROPES, TIE DOWNS
SOLAR CHARGERS FOR ELECTRONIC DEVICES
SOLAR PANELS, INVERTER
SCHOOL SUPPLIES- NOTEBOOKS, PAPER, PENS, PENCILS, ART SUPPLIES
SKIRTS- FULL LENGTH
SLEEPING BAGS (FOR COLD WEATHER)
SWEATERS (ESP. XL-3X)
TIPI AND TIPI POLES, OTHER LARGE PORTABLE STRUCTURES
WALKIE TALKIES, CB RADIOS
WATER BUFFALO / WATER TRUCK
WATER JUGS
WINTER GEAR- HATS, SCARVES, GLOVES
WOOD FOR BUILDING SHELVING
WORK GLOVES, ALL SIZES
MOBILE KiTCHEN/ FOOD TRUCK / LARGE-SCALE KITCHEN SUPPLIES

 

VMworld – Sunday is for connecting

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Sunday at VMworld is filled with events and parties. While these are held in cool venues, usually with plenty to eat and drink, the real benefit of attending these events are the conversations you can have with people who care about virtualization and cloud.

One conversation thread that I’ve had with several people is how the shift in storage infrastructure along with how developers are writing applications. Infrastructure is moving to flash and cloud (IaaS/PaaS/SaaS), and developers are learning to write to maximize their apps for these new platforms. What does this mean if developers have less and less knowledge (or even control) over how applications write to disk?

There are other connections too, introducing people you know to others who should be connected to them. Sometimes catching up with people you used to work with, or visiting your competitor’s booths to say hi to the folks who play in your space. The opening of the Solutions Expo last night was a great place for that.

 

What’s happening today?

First of all, Keynotes! They are actually going on right now (I’m writing this in the blogger’s lounge as I watch them). Lots of cloud and even SaaS talk today! which is pretty amazing. Do your best to get to the keynotes. You can go to the hang space and sit on a couch, grab some coffee, and have some great conversations as you watch them.

Visit the Solutions Expo. It was crazy yesterday during the opening, and I’ll admit I stuck to the EMC, Dell, and Dell Software booths. There are so many I want to visit today, so this is my first stop once they open at 10.

Go to a presentation. To get into the popular ones, you need to sign up on the session scheduler.

Go to vendor sessions. I’m going to a VCE presentation (supporting the EMC Elect program). If you’re a customer, go to your favorite vendor’s booth and ask if they have special presentations. I’m sure they’ll hook you up with the info and an invite!

Parties: There are so many parties again tonight. Pace yourself, because breakfast is at 7:30 and general sessions start at 9 on Tuesday morning. O

Pro Tip of the Day

Be sure to eat! This is probably going to mean that you will miss something, but you have to eat. We’re doing a lot of walking, and talking and thinking. All of that requires fuel! So take breaks to eat!

Tweets/Pics from yesterday

 


 


 

VMworld 2016 is officially underway!

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This week I’m at VMworld in Las Vegas as a blogger. I’m going to try to get a post out every day with interesting news for those of you who aren’t able to join us this year. This is my make-up post from yesterday. 🙂

You may be wondering, wait Gina, don’t you just talk about Office 365 and SaaS data protection all the time? Why the heck are you at VMworld? Interestingly enough, this year’s theme isbe_Tomorrow“. According to this page, that theme is all about cloud infrastructure: app availability, resource management, APIs, operations management, automation, lifecycle management and security. Of course, here we’ll be talking from a VMware perspective so it will be focusing on IaaS/PaaS. But cloud also includes SaaS, and we worry about all of those things in the SaaS world too. It’s just as important to understand how to manage a SaaS application, because at the end of the day the business just wants to do business, they count on us to keep the infrastructure pieces running.

So that’s why I’m here. I’ll be talking about SaaS as part of your cloud strategy in a vBrownBag Tech Talk on Tuesday morning. The entire vBrownBag schedule is here, there are some awesome presentations and panels planned, make sure to attend some of these! I’ll also be around the EMC booth hanging with the other EMC Data Protection folks, I have some awesome swag coming…so go find Alex Almeida in the booth to talk about Spanning if you can’t find me.

What’s happening today?

#vFit: Every morning at 7 am, folks are meeting at the registration area of Mandalay Bay to run/walk outside. It is good for you, come join us!

Opening Acts: Today (Sunday) I’m also moderating a panel about careers at vmunderground’s Opening Acts. If you’re trying to figure out how to move your career forward, this panel is great and I think I’m going to be able to get some really useful information out of them. It’s free to attend, so come on out! Our panel is first up and starts at 11, there’s a break for BBQ lunch at 1 (small fee for that), then more panels at 2.

V0dgeball: After Opening Acts is the 8th annual v0dgeball. Basically, vendors pony up registration money to form teams to clobber each other with balls for a great cause (Wounded Warrior Project). It is free to attend (it starts at 3)but they will let you know how to donate to the Wounded Warrior Project — and you should do that!

Welcome Reception: After v0dgeball, the show floor opens at 5 with the Welcome Reception. There are so many booths I want to check out this year, for me it takes 3 or 4 days to visit them all. Make sure you visit the booths. Yes, grab your swag, but talk to the folks working the booths. Many times, you’ll have the product manager or key technical marketer standing there really wanting to hear from you. Do more than get your badge scanned, have a great technical product conversation!

vmunderground: And finally (for me at least), is #vmunderground. This is the 10th anniversary edition, and will be held at Nine Fine Irishmen (memories!!!). You have to have a wristband. If you don’t have one already, hit up a vendor to hook you up. This party is one of my favorites, my week is usually booked from conversations I have here.

Lots going on today! Looking forward to talking with you all, you know you need to know how to #backthatsaasup!

Pro tip of the day

Drink a lot of water y’all! We are in the desert, you need the water. This is even more true if you’re drinking…alcohol dehydrates you and you’re going to feel awful if you don’t replenish your body with the water it needs.

Tweets/pics from yesterday

 

If you see me out, please don’t pressure me to drink

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This morning I read a couple of very powerful blog posts. This one is about hunger (physical and emotional), and how western women are culturalized to deny our needs for sustanance. This one is about the modern woman’s relationship with alcohol.

Both of them are very intense reads, and both struck a deep chord within me.

Let me be very clear right up front: I’m not sober. I go for very long stints without drinking though. I do this for personal reasons, but all of them can be lumped into two categories: good for me physically and good for me psychologically. I feel more like “me” when I’m not drinking, I’m less anxious, I’m happier, I get more done. Probably because I am not medicating myself with alcohol. I’m a hell of a lot goofier too, which is one thing I really like about me.

It’s hard not to drink. First of all, I like the way different alcoholic beverages taste. I love how different drinks taste with good food. If I am drinking these days, it’s a good bet that a fabulous meal is also involved.

Secondly, alcohol seems to be a really big part of the Austin experience. I plan where and when I go places now. I know if I’m in a no-drinking phase that if I go to brunch there will be interesting bloody mary and mimosa concoctions. Happy Hours  (even official ones for work) are about alcohol, not soda water and lime. It’s hard to avoid it….so lots of times just staying home works better for me.

Thirdly, the tech industry has a love affair with alcohol. It is a staple at every event (even ones I’ve planned). At the last big conference I attended, it was cheaper to buy beer than it was to buy a bottle of water (no soda water available at most of the events). I’ve had interviews that we basically bar crawls to see if I could keep up (huge red flag to which I should have paid better attention). I’ve been shamed for not drinking, by managers and friends. It’s really hard to passively avoid drinking, it’s almost as if you don’t drink, something is wrong with you.

I don’t really get that. For me, not drinking is a very personal thing. I am doing it for me, for my own personal reasons. It has nothing to do with anyone else. Because of that, I don’t care if others drink. It does help that I have a network of friends who also are not drinking. We encourage each other before big events, and share all sorts of tips to make it through the parties that are bound to be booze-fests without drinking. But I need to be really clear: not drinking accomplishes my personal goals, and no one has to change in order for me to meet those goals.

Except me. I totally need this change.

So I have a huge favor to ask. I’m not trying to kill your vibe by not drinking. Please don’t go on about all the reasons why I *should* endulge. If I’m not drinking, your persuasion really feels like bullying to me. So please, don’t. I swear I’m not silently judging you.

Let’s just all enjoy each other’s company, no matter what fills our cups.

Tips for keeping your balance during big conferences

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Attending technical conferences are marathons. You’re in a huge conference center for many hours. You attend keynotes, sessions, and check out all the vendor booths. If you’re a vendor you have booth duty and lots of customer meetings. And there is the opportunity to catch up with the friends that live in far away places. And then there are all the parties….

It’s easy to get caught up and overwhelmed by all of the activities during these conferences. As we get ready for the fall conferences, starting at the end of the month at VMworld, I thought I’d share some of my tips for enjoying these events and keeping a bit of balance.

  1. Wear good shoes. This one is on everyone’s list, because it’s critical! I decided this year that I’m wearing my hiking shoes, even with my dresses if I don’t have booth duty.


    When I have booth duty, I’ll by a pair of Sketchers just for the show, and make sure they are broken in. We’re usually not allowed to wear sensible tennis shoes. They only seem to last about 100K steps (or a little over 1 show).

  2. Soak your feet! Figure out where a hot tub is. This is hard to do in Vegas, the pools usually don’t open until after the keynotes and they close pretty early. You can also soak in the tub in your room – Vegas has awesome tubs. Schedule 15 – 20 minutes for this a couple of times during the week, your feet will thank you.
  3. Stretch. Whether you go to the gym or you do this in your room, stretch. It’s really easy to do simple yoga moves that will make your back feel better after carrying around a back-pack all day. Cat-cow is super easy, and it feels so good after a long day.
  4. Order a special meal. Order a special meal, avoid the long lines and get food that is better for you!
  5. Try and find good snacks. This is harder. One trick I’ve found is the gyms usually have free fruit (yet an another reason to plan some stretch time in the gym!). Many of the hotel gyms in Vegas also do smoothies, if you know you won’t make it to breakfast.
  6.  Take nutritious foods! You know you are bringing a checked bag so you can haul home your swag, so why not fill it on your way out with nutritious food to put in your backpack. You may need to do some homework first. Here are some of the things I do:
    1. I know the hotel I’m staying in sorta has a fridge, but no microwave. So I’ll probably bring some cold cereal, but if I had a microwave in my room I’d bring oatmeal.
    2. I may bring some small containers of almond milk, you can also get milk in those little containers.
    3. I always bring nuts. If my schedule gets a little weird, this is an easy way to keep my energy up.
    4. I’ve started bringing graham crackers and peanut butter. I have a stash of the plastic silver sets that come with takeout food, so I bring some of those too. If I can find a banana, this is the best treat ever.
    5. Apples travel well too. They are also easy to throw in a backpack.
  7. Bring a water bottle. Especially in Vegas, it’s important to stay hydrated. In the past, the VMworld backpack also had a water bottle. You’ll find water stations everyplace. Make sure you keep your water bottle with you and keep it full!
  8. Go outside. It’s very hard to go outside when you are in Vegas. Make a point to walk outside. In Mandalay Bay, you can actually walk much of the way to the convention center outside. The bonus is that outside isn’t as crowded as the halls inside. However, I’d recommend doing this in the morning, before it gets too hot.
  9. Remember – you don’t have to drink. I realize this one may be sacrilege. There are lots of parties. And in Vegas, it’s actually more expensive to buy water than it is to buy beer. Go figure. If you do drink, remember it is going to dehydrate you. Some parties (like vmunderground) provide a non-alcoholic choice. And there are lots of us who aren’t into the drinking scene…just find us!
  10. Don’t worry if you forget something, just head to CVS or Walgreens on the strip. Stock up on good things for you that will help you keep your energy up.

These are my tips for trying to maintain balance during big conferences. What are yours?