AWS re:Invent – The Ultimate Team Building Experience?

Though it’s not officially over at the time of my writing, AWS re:Invent 2018 has ended for me.  As you might expect, it’s been a pretty hectic week filled with keynotes, sessions, chalk talks, expo floor excursions, hunting for the Ms. PacMan arcade game, rarely finding a chair to sit on in the certification lounge, hanging out with co-workers, and meeting new and old friends.  Currently, I’m sitting by myself in the relative calmness of McCarran Airport reflecting upon the whirlwind week that was AWS re:Invent 2018 and wondering if AWS re:Invent is the ultimate team building experience?


First Reflection – Bring more team members

Last year, my first re:Invent, I was here with 2 other co-workers.  This year, we sent a team of 8!  And we didn’t just send post-sales engineers, but along with us we had the VP of Service Delivery, the Director of Product Management, a Sr. Project Manager, the Director of our pre-sales Solutions Architect team, a couple from our Managed Services team, the Manager of our Datacenter team (my boss), and lastly myself…unless I forgot somebody.  I am thrilled that we had such a diverse team attend the event and I believe each will leave the event with at least some measure of excitement in regards to the immense possibilities for problem solving AND innovation that AWS presents to our customers!  And since we sent such a diverse team, I hope this excitement will “infect” their respective spheres of influence.

I want to work for an organization where management is excited about the virtually limitless possibilities that AWS provides not only our customers, but ourselves as well!  I want Product Management excited as they develop service offerings!  I certainly want our pre-sales Architects excited as they talk to our customers about how AWS services and offerings can help solve their business challenges!  I hope the Project Management team is excited by the prospect of helping our customers navigate through their AWS initiatives!  I want my boss excited to ensure I’ll get a HUGE raise next year!  🙂  I’m kidding…but seriously, I enjoyed having him here. If he were a football coach, he’d be a “player’s coach”.  Being an engineer at heart, I believe he loved geeking out over the technology, but being a “player’s coach”, his excitement for AWS can, in my opinion, influence the direction of, or modernize, the support capabilities of our team.

Here they are, in all their glory!


Also, I had no idea how competitive some of these guys are in regards to collecting both conference bling pins but vendor socks especially!  I had no idea that an unofficial vendor sock accumulation gladiatorial contest was a “thing” but perhaps I shouldn’t be so surprised what happens in Las Vegas when a bunch of geeks get together.


If you’re one of the 6 or 7 people who may ready this and your group has created rules for such a competition, would you mind sharing them?  For example, does it count toward the total if you acquire more than 1 pair of socks from a single vendor?  Do you have a time limit on the competition or do you simply tally the total number of socks accumulated by each competitor on Thursday afternoon?  I can’t speak for all the team, but we would desire to do our sock competition according to established rules to ensure the authenticity of the game.

On a side note, I also like to hear about any other competitions (clean ones!!) that you and your co-workers participate in when at re:Invent.

Final Thought

Many years ago, my wife and I were visiting dear friends in Virginia when we spotted a magnet on their refrigerator that said, “I like life in the fast lane but I married a speed bump.”  My wife looked at me and said, “You’re the speed bump” and she’s right.  Maybe I shouldn’t admit this, but I don’t believe anybody will ever be able to look at me and say, “That David…he knows how to party!”

We went to a party Wednesday night and though I was ready to leave practically instantly, I stayed long enough to see my co-workers, my team, having a good time and enjoying each others company.  It may be a poor comparison, but I saw them as soldiers on leave, forgetting the stress of battle and simply focusing on having a good time with one another in the moment.  And in these moments, a bond can be forged that cultivates or reinforces the attitude of “no one left behind” and I witnessed that, and I hope this sense of community is not forgotten once we return to the “real world” because we need each other to succeed, to be the best services delivery organization we can possibly be.

As we leave AWS re:Invent 2018, I look forward to the future and what we can accomplish working together.

3 thoughts on “AWS re:Invent – The Ultimate Team Building Experience?

  1. David – You captured the time really well. I also found a sense of family during the week with our team activities. I am in one of my last two sessions now and realized how excited I feel about everything. It’s great to work for a company that invests in their people like NWN does. I had several vendors in the expo tell me they knew of or had heard of NWN – that was really cool. Maybe we should have a booth next year at Re:invent.

    Endless possibilities!

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