I actually did not go that long..although it always seems to feel like that in Vegas. I don't know how many of these I have been to now but it seems like such an important part of my year that I would be somewhat lost without it. I love the live broadcasting we get to do from the show floor. I miss doing many of the deep-dives we used to do as part of TechWiseTV but now I feel like I am much more a part of the event. It's a reunion of sorts as well as this is one of the few times I get to meet so many great geeks.
The Bryan Cranston interview at the very end was certainly a highlight. The closing keynote turned out to be a kind of fireside chat that he did with Chuck Robbins on stage. Chuck did really well...it was informal, entertaining and did not feel scripted....which I love...but that was my angle! I had to rush over from the studio and come up from backstage to try and pay attention to the content because now I feared that I would have nothing fresh to ask him about. Chuck asked great questions and I was scratching things off my list as ideas almost as fast as I added them. You watch and see how I did:
As I had hoped, Bryan turned out to be an extremely down to earth guy...or in fairness perhaps...his role that day as a famous actor acting like a down to earth guy on a corporate gig...was spot on. Either way, you can tell that he cares very much about his craft and appreciates the gifts he has been given. It felt like he was working hard to make me comfortable in my role....which I appreciate...and then worry that I was giving off a 'I need help vibe.' Either way....I remain a big fan. I did not finish his book until a few days after this interview...but I recommend it. He has a great writing voice and shares some great stories from his humble beginnings.
The crew was largely the same this year...and we always feel like we fought a war by the time we finish. The breakneck pace of doing a non-stop stream on facebook, youtube and cisco.com among a few others really kept us busy.
Too Much Talent?
I really thought we had too many on-camera hosts this year...there were five of us including Steve Multer (the only outsider of the group....who has been working with Cisco longer than I have however), James Bedford, Shari Slate and for the first time, Lauren Malhoit. Working with Lauren was bitter sweet. She is our new host on TechWiseTV with me and as such I knew she could handle this quite well...but her role this year only came at the last moment as Cisco let Shraddha Chaplot go. That was a huge bummer. Shraddha is great people and I really hope she lands on her feet and can show Cisco what they missed by letting her go. We needed every host at almost every minute due to the 'innovation talks' that were being done this year. '
The Cisco Live team is always pushing for more and better...which I love...and this was a nice staging area not too far from the broadcast studio. The ideas was that executives and such would be giving TedTalk style pitches that were limited to 30 minutes. These would start at the top of each hour. The cool thing about this is that we would be doing live shows/updates between these times so we were handing off to that room from the live broadcast, (continuous show to the audience of course). The challenge was that most presenters were ending their talk much earlier than 30 minutes...and we had to fill time almost every hour...which really added up. I think the fatal error was that the room they were in felt very disconnected from the broadcast...there was nothing in there that indicated they were live with our thousands of viewers and so to them...their audience was small and maybe not that energetic...they would just end...no concept of the fact that the story was continuing. It would have helped a lot if the live broadcast was playing in that room at a minimum...then they could see our set up and hand-off...plus their room would not be so quiet and boring between presenters.
Filling Time with a Backstage Tour
As one example of trying to fill time...I was sitting in the back of our broadcast area and did get about 10 minutes notice...the issue was that James Bedford was on stage and they were still waiting for his guest to show up. We needed to fill time and do it away from the stage so the crew could get the new guests mic'd up and ready to go. Now you know what was happening...here is what it looked like as I made stuff up.