Yes, was my first and I went as a speaker! The proof is on the shiny gold letters.
Well, co-speaker really. I presented with Jason Little on what we have been working on during last year, Transforming a Public sector company to Agile. It was definitely an experience that I had to go through and feel it by myself, while working with a PRO on presentation like Jason.
I am very happy that our presentation went really good. I was impressed that our talk got the attention of some really cool names in Agile circles like Ellen Gottesdiener, Jeff Morgan (aka Cheezy), Diane Zajac-Woodie, Leslie J. Morse, Mike Bowler, Alexis Hui, Raj Mudhar, Jake Calabrese, etc. Receiving a positive feedback from them meant A LOT!
It was really good that our session was on the first block. After that, I could enjoy the rest of the conference. And there were a lot to enjoy there. As a first timer, I didn't know how to maximize my time there. I tried to pick a session where I would benefit the most, but I don't think I did well. There were so many good sessions and I know I missed a lot. The other thing I missed were the non-official sessions going on outside the rooms. I kick myself for not spending more time there. The one time I stopped by, I laughed the most. Matt Barcomb and Bryan Beecham started a game on how to best use the estimation cards. A lot of people joined the circle after we started and a lot of rules were set and re-set. The game at the end was called "Promiscuous Poker" (don't ask why) and we intend to publish it as Plan H for our early retirement.
I was really proud to see Alias on one of the slides from Jeff Patton. I have worked at that company for 11 years and I know that what we did there was special and unique, until was acquired.
The session with Sue Johnston and Andrew Annett was great too. People like me, that think while talking, have a lot to learn from them.
The surprise of the conference for me was Andrew Shafer. First he surprised me by reading "The commitment" book at the party, on the boat. Then he surprised me for keeping me awake on the very first session in the morning, after a long party. I really enjoyed his point of view and I proposed him to be the keynote speaker for next year. He ended his presentation with something like "You are awesome. Continue learning. Go!" that would have been the right message to open the conference.
Another session I enjoyed was Ron Jeffries and Chet Hendrickson. They work together like Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra, beautiful harmony, fun and entertainment.
The best story I heard: after a presentation, Mike Cohn and his assistance discussed about the next venue and decided on the hotel where to hold the venue. Mike went home and next day he gets a message from her saying "Mike, the hotel is booked". Happy with the results, Mike considered this venue all set up and ready to go. 2 weeks before the venue, he gets an email from her saying "Mike, what are gonna do about the next venue. We don't have a hotel yet and there is no time left". He writes back and calms her down, reminding the email where she told him that the hotel was booked. To which she replied "Yes Mike, the hotel is booked as: There is a wedding and the hotel is booked!". Oops!
I have a lot of things to remember from this conference. Nashville, the huge hotel Opryland, Tootsies, first time to try fried green tomatoes, 3 hour naps during the day, Bourbon beer, meeting all these "agile rock stars" that I knew from books or Tweeter, feeling comfortable in the crowd that spoke my language, got a hairy LeanDog hat, first karaoke (duet with Declan Whelan) "Superstitious", awesome guacamole made fresh in front of us, and the feeling like I was on a different planet without gravity.