30 October 2017 Culture

Thank You for Speaking: Motivation from Elastic{ON} Tour Toronto

By Renuka Hermon

Dog parks, hockey, craft coffee . . . it’s like the city of Toronto has an insider’s view of our Slack channels at Elastic. My first Elastic{ON} event was bound to be great.

Strolling in at 7 a.m. on a boiling hot, late-September day in Toronto (weather anomaly anyone?), I saw the Sony Centre transformed into a vibrant space surging with Elastic{ON} energy. I’ll come out and say it, our Events and Design teams don’t mess around. All eyes were drawn to the stage.

Between chatting with folks at registration and fetching extra computer chargers for attendees who were rapidly note taking, I saw Jeremy Foran of BAI Canada turn to the crowd, ready to kick off his presentation. As he started discussing how they use the Elastic Stack to report on and monitor usage on the public Wi-Fi offering that they’ve built in the Toronto and NYC subway systems, we all knew we were in for a treat. He’s one of us, an Elastic user with a great sense of humor. He started his talk in one of the best ways possible: laughter. Here we see his favorite (impossible?) captchas that prevented users from joining the Wi-Fi.

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Then he dove right into the heart of the story. He described his adoption of the Elastic Stack and how BAI Canada uses it to “analyze a full football stadium worth of wifi data every hour.” Jeremy walked us through his journey specifically around creating more robust reporting capabilities and gave us a peek into what their future holds for machine learning, analytics, and modeling.

Although happy hour was yet to begin, there was plenty of humor, raw storytelling, and humility: qualities of those who create. That’s why we (community members and employees alike) attend. We get to chat face-to-face with the people who love these tools as much as we do and use them to make lives better, simpler, and happier.

Writing as someone who would much rather sit behind a keyboard than stand in front of a crowd, I discovered a few points that may be helpful if you (like me) are considering speaking at an event, meetup, or our user conference.

If you're looking for motivation to speak, remember this:

Elastic is all around us. Elastic users are clever and apply the software in ways we hadn’t predicted. Your use case is interesting and I guarantee someone in the crowd will have a light bulb switch on thanks to you.

We're a community . . . and we're insatiably curious. Newcomers, veterans, those who tinker, and those who have helped build the Elastic Stack are all in the crowd. If you’re considering applying to speak at an Elastic event, your fan base is built in.

All stories are welcome. Have you always been an open source fan? Did your boss give you pushback on utilizing new software? Did the office hold a party in your honor because you found a way to visualize your security logs in a useful way? People in the crowd will relate.

The jitters are real and that's ok. Behind the scenes, I heard a few veteran speakers mention pre-show jitters and post-show adrenaline rush. Of course, preparation is key. Daniel Palay and Livia Decurtins, who head up Elastic{ON} External Speaker Relations, make sure that no speaker question goes unanswered and that each presentation slide is spotless.

You'll leave with pictures and videos of yourself onstage. Who’s that person commanding the room with Elastic Cloud Team Lead, Suyog Rao? That’s Jeremy, but next time it could be you . . . or me. Elastic engineers are sharing roadmaps at the same event, oftentimes on the same stage.

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And I will leave you with this: we also have incredible AMAs at Elastic{ON} Tour and Conference. Don’t miss out. Thank you, Toronto, for being an incredible host.