Spock, Homer, and the missing Sage Summit sessions

Have you ever had a bad experience completely destroy something you love?

I love this blog. For real. I love getting a chance to let the world know what Practical Software Solutions and Sage are doing in my own voice. Almost every assignment I have on a day-to-day basis includes formal business writing, so a chance to let my own thoughts shine through is a rare treat.

About a month and a half ago, The Practical Blog started getting spammed. And I mean unmercifully. It’s now reached a crescendo where I receive 350 spam notices a day, filling up my inbox overnight. Every time I’ve come to write a new blog post since then, I spend all my time poring through all the messages on the chance that there’s a real response in there somewhere. It’s rather tiresome to go through all that nonsense, and leaves you drained rather than inspired.

Two things have come from it: 1) I now know where to go to buy every single knock-off Nike shoe and Prada bag in China, and 2) the new spam tactic is to outsource your English to someone who only has a marginal grasp on the language. The worst/funniest example was when someone commented that I was doing a “Fastidious occupation, keep it up.” Fastidious occupation? Don’t you mean “good job”? *sigh* But I digress …

Practical Software Solutions customer meeting

We were joined by about 40 customers at Sage Summit 2014.

So Sage Summit 2014 came and went, and we had a really great time while we were there. We had about 40 customers there, and eight of us from Practical were in Vegas, too. I made some new friends, learned a lot while I was out there, and got to see real teamwork in action when one of our customers had a near catastrophe back at their office.

Industries of the Blind in Greensboro had a massive server meltdown, and with the bulk of the IT staff in Vegas, a young, part-time employee was the only one left behind. It was heartbreaking, yet quite inspiring, to see Lanee Kirby, IoB’s systems administrator, looking so helpless from three time zones away. She knew her young employee was absolutely capable of handling the emergency, but she knew it would mean for him to pull an all-nighter all by himself. Lanee told me that the IT department was a team, and she felt like they were letting him down by not being there in person for him.

Sage Summit selfie with IOB

Lanee Kirby, left, and Lisa Osborne from Industries of the Blind pose with me for a selfie at Sage Summit.

Our staff also did what we could to help. Some of our technical staff went out of conference-attending mode and went into technical support mode. Greg Lafferty and I did everything we could think of to offer suggestions and to lend moral support. After several hours of wrangling with the airlines, Lanee and Lisa Osborne were able to book an earlier flight home, and the issue was resolved in enough time to cause minimal interruption with their manufacturing process.

A much more amusing story happened with me, Lanee, and Lisa. We happened to be sitting next to each other on the flight to Vegas (what a way to meet a customer for the first time, eh?), and during the flight, we made plans for that evening. It wasn’t anything wild or daring — just seeing some of the sights. I remembered I had two sessions I had booked in the late afternoon when I got there, but I told them to go ahead and do the touristy thing, and I would catch up with them.

Selfie with Pascal Houillon

The Innovation Lab at Sage Summit was one of the things that caused me to miss a couple of sessions. Here’s a selfie with Pascal Houillon, who was checking out Google Glass.

My first session, “Mr. Spock and Homer Simpson: The two sides of human economic behavior,” was due to begin at 5:30. Two things happened: When I walked into the trade show floor where this session would be held on a mini-stage, I had a massive distraction attack. I wanted to see everything! I remembered from when I set my schedule that this particular session would be repeated, so I let myself enjoy walking the floor. My next session, “30 Marketing Tips in 30 Minutes,” was also on one of the mini-stages, but I was a bit late for that one as well. (It ended up being 15 Marketing Tips in 15 Minutes for me.)

By the time that session ended at 7 p.m., I was exhausted and starving. My body clock was telling me that it was 10 p.m., and what the heck was I doing working so late. I texted Lanee to ask her if they had eaten dinner yet, fully intending to make good on our plans, but secretly hoping they were not up to it. Sure enough, they were in a world of hurt, too. They had decided to walk up the strip during daylight hours, so they were dealing with exhaustion from the heat as well as jet lag. We all inwardly did the conga, and I nearly fell asleep in my bowl of Pad Thai at dinner.

The good news is that Sage provided a great way for people — even those who didn’t attend Sage Summit — to see what they were missing. Back on Sept. 16, the Sage team hosted a “30 Marketing Tips in 30 Minutes” webinar. It wasn’t a recording of the session, but I found out that save for one slide, it was the same presentation from Sage Summit. I’m so glad I got a second chance at this session, because I realized I had been missing out on SlideShare to help bring more information about Sage’s products to our customers and prospects.

And just yesterday, Sage Accountants sent out a Tweet with a link to the recording of the “Mr. Spock and Homer Simpson” session. It was so nice to be able to watch/listen to this presentation while working on updates to our Grower Vertical and Sage Construction and Real Estate pages. I even smiled when I missed an important point and backed up the video a few minutes — something that would have been impossible at the live event.

So here’s a pro tip: Follow Sage on Twitter, especially the main Sage North America account, the Sage Summit account, and the main account for the product area you use (ERP, CRE, HRMS, etc.) or even the individual products, like Sage ERP X3. Even if you create an account and just to follow these accounts, you can receive valuable information and still remain anonymous. Just in the past few weeks, I learned about a contest featuring $16,000 in business-boosting prizes for small businesses in Canada, 60 improvements to Sage 100 ERP in the 2015 release, an interesting report about interest vs. budgeting for mobile devices in the construction industry, and what to do if you receive an EEOC charge in the mail.

And for those who are dying to know what Mr. Spock and Homer Simpson have to do with economics — just like I did — here’s the video:

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have 27 spam comments I have to attend to that came in while I was writing this post.

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