How I Saw Things Differently at WPC

by Angela LaRocca

So a CEO, VP and Brand Manager walk into the Microsoft World Partner conference…series

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Toronto or bust.
Branded swag? Check.
Passport? Check.
Microsoft Gold Certified Partnership? CHECK.

I was fortunate to be included in Team Unidev’s attendees to the Microsoft World Partner Conference. This year it was in Toronto, one of the places on my bucket list!

I’m technical by association. In the company of some of the most tech-savvy individuals from all over the globe, I had many moments of, “Wait, why am I going?” I fully understood why our CEO, Greg Alexander, and Vice President, Andrea Bemis, (the big kids) were attending, but was pretty sure I wouldn’t fit in at WPC…I’m a marketing girl, a social media nerd, much more creative than technical.

Most days I feel like I am a right brain girl in a left brain world. As Unidev’s Brand Manager, (aka face of the company) the majority of conferences I attend are geared towards social media, or other avenues of digital marketing. WPC16 was different. I felt different.

I quickly learned that the fine folks at Microsoft raise the bar and every little detail is not only accounted for, but is beyond impressive. The food, the entertainment (did I mentioned a Gwen Stefani concert?!), the “Epic” speakers (more on one in particular later)... In fact, the first keynote to kick off the conference was none other than the Microsoft CEO himself, Satya Nadella. Fun fact: when I saw the agenda months ago, Satya was someone on my list of people to meet or at least snag a photo opp. In my own silly way, I’d say the latter was achieved.

See Exhibit A.

I love meeting new people. I genuinely love it. It’s one of my favorite elements of my job. Put me a room full of strangers and I’m golden. I worked the exhibitor hall, got plenty of swag, won some fancy Bose speakers, parked it at the coffee bar, and made friends with many of the partners. Add in soaking up knowledge from some wonderfully brilliant minds, and I was a happy girl on information-overload. I was slowly becoming more in my element here…

I’m a note-taking nerd and proud of it. I have gotten in the multitasking routine and learned the fine art of note-taking and tweeting from multiple devices. I immediately noticed something apparent the minute the keynote speaker began talking. What struck me initially was when I looked around at the attendees as Satya was dropping brilliance like it’s hot, everyone was watching. Watching him! On stage and/or the monitors. What was all this #IRL eye contact that was happening? Very few people were looking at their phones. Did anyone else see what was going on? Was this okay? I kept calm and tweeted on. That is my job.

Another eye-opening moment was brought to you by Microsoft’s HoloLens. I have heard about this piece of technology. I grew up watching “Jem and the Holograms,” THANKYOUVERYMUCH. I’ve even seen videos from last year’s WPC highlighting HoloLens with the motorcycle demo.

However, I was having a really difficult time grasping the concept and purpose. With plenty of caffeine in our systems, and after an in-depth demo on stage, Andrea and Greg were blown away by its magnitude and capability. Of course they were. They’re wired to understand this stuff. They turned to me asking my thoughts. My face tends to give me away. It eluded something hollow all right (pun intended) a blank stare as I admitted, “I don’t get it.” The conversation went a little something like this:

Greg kindly asking, “Which part didn’t you get?” I thought for a moment (mostly for dramatic effect), “All of it.” They both attempted to explain. God bless them. Andrea spent much of the lunch break trying to break it into more detail. I said if I could just DO it, it would become clear(ish).

Then, a small Microsoft miracle happened. We learned of an opportunity to actually USE the HoloLens at one of the booths! Both highly recommended I snag a time slot. I’m more of a visual learner, and if a hands-on approach was offered, by all means I would take it! It was even captured on video. I was in my own little world, interacted with it, and it finally. Sunk. In. Oh Happy Day! One of many “a-ha” moments took place here. We’ll caption this: “I wish you could see what I see!”

Afterwards, we stopped by a t-shirt printing table where you could cleverly caption your WPC experience. I asked them to print, “HoloLens: Ohhhh, I get it now!” The final printed version contained a spelling error and it read: “Hollow Lens.”

Error or comedic irony? We’ll call it both.

The goofball taking pics, tweeting things to Gwen like “I ain’t no followback girl,” and donning a Unidev branded dress, yes, I was that girl.

I learned to welcome the very essence that made me different, embrace my weirdness, and accept it being the shameless girl taking pics, tweeting keynote speakers until they responded, taking more food pics and tagging the restaurants, all of it.

Life is too short to question why you are in certain situations. The moral of the story is just be present and appreciate it.

Oh, we also met some celebrities in the sports world. Want to read about it? Stay tuned. #Cliffhanger


Read Part II