ASUG Annual Conference Planning – a Look Back

For the past two months ASUG volunteers have been planning ASUG Annual Conference (to be held in Orlando, May 5-7) which is co-located with SAPPHIRENOW.  In some respects, it was made easier this year because of a new abstract tool that lets you easily filter on sessions.  In previous years, I was downloading to Excel, merging speaker files with abstracts and then using Lumira for data cleansing before the team could review the abstracts.

What also went well this year is ASUG had a speaker tips submission webcast.   This, in my opinion, lead to higher quality abstracts – a nice problem to have.

Of course there is never enough time to review everything in the time allowed.  Given that there are over 2200 abstracts submitted and roughly only 400 can be selected, and if you are in a lucky track with almost 500 submissions, the job is tough.

Earlier in the month I read Andy Steer, CTO/CMO of itelligence UK, blog about their conference planning. They are crowd-sourcing their conference’s agenda.  I looked at their survey and I wondered if ASUG could do something similar.  Perhaps for smaller scale conferences, not ASUG Annual Conference, given the scale.

I will be very interested to hear how the crowd sourcing goes for this conference.

Book Report: Winner’s Dream

I finished reading SAP SE CEO Bill McDermott’s book Winner’s Dream

Having been a long-time SAP customer, I have always enjoyed hearing Bill McDermott speak.  Many of his speeches resonate with me personally.  I remember a few years ago he made a speech about “no excuses” and I try to follow that as well.

This book resonated with me as well, just as if he were speaking in person.  After reading it I felt he was the “Joel Osteen” of the business world. For those who don’t know Joel Osteen, he is a minister with a very positive message.

In the book, Bill McDermott shares his family tragedy of losing a young brother.  He works hard in his first job working the paper route.  He was selected at age 15 to work at a grocery store and the store manager wisely said that he would “go places”.

He talks about how much he learned from his own father who coached him, and learned in some games it is not important to be a star but part of the team.  What a great lesson to learn.

He is optimistic, something he credits his mother with giving him.  Similar to Bill McDermott, my mother died young as well of cancer, and he shares how his mother encouraged him to work even while she was in the ICU.  I credit him for the courage to share personal details.

There are so many parts of this book I could relate to – how he traveled through the ranks of Xerox, selling copiers, and motivating his sales force.  A talent he has is the ability to read what is important to the person – and the motto “feel felt found”.  I enjoyed reading about the convention where he brought everyone in from his unit to motivate them to reach a goal.

Also at Xerox, he talks about bringing the Puerto Rico office from the bottom to the top.  He found a way to relate to the work force, using Berlitz lessons to learn how to speak Spanish.  I read earlier he is learning how to speak German and I have no doubt he will after reading this book.

He brings this empathy to SAP with the “customer first” attitude.  He talks about his start at SAP, meeting Hasso Plattner for the first time (and Hasso’s dog Claude).  I felt like I was right with him during the company acquisitions, being co-CEO, and a day in the life while he is at SAPPHIRE.

Some lessons I will try to take away from the book;

1) Have empathy

2) If you have a problem, bring it to your boss/team, but also come with a proposed solution

3) Customer first – even as an SAP customer myself, I have customers to serve

He even includes social media – see an excerpt from the book below:

I encourage you to check out his book today.