Friday, September 26, 2008

"Are you Luis, from Socialize Me?"

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This was the question a prospective customer asked me when I introduced myself. But before I tell you more about that, let me give you a bit of background.

The adventure begins

Tuesday (yes, 3 days ago), I woke up at 4:45am for the first flight of the day from SJU to SFO. I flew via JFK because AA now has in-flight internet service for flights between JFK and SFO, LAX, and MIA. Unfortunately, however, I didn't quite read the fine print: in-flight internet is only available on those flights that happen on Boeings 767-300 and my JFK to SFO flight was on a Boeing 767-200 . What I thought was going to be a productive 5.5 hr flight from JFK-SFO turned out to be a relaxing flight watching The Office and Two and Half Men.

Arrival to San Francisco

I arrived at SFO at 5:50pm (8:50pm my time). I called the IBM crew and they were still in the office working on the finishing touches. I drove into the office and met them there, but not without some complications. You see, the IBM office is at 425 Market St, and while the GPS did a good job of getting me there, finding street parking was a mess. With the Oracle Open World conference going on, traffic in downtown was pretty heavy. To add to that, I got into "one-way-and-no-left/right-turn" hell. After 30 mins I was able to find street parking. It was now 7:15pm (10:15pm my time).

We reviewed the presentation and went over the demo items again to make sure we were all set. At 9 (12am my time), we went to a nice, enjoyable dinner at Osha. We got back to the office at ~10:15p (1:15am my time) copied the VMWare image into my local laptop (it's always better to demo from a Mac ). Now because of the aforementioned Oracle conference, I couldn't get any hotels downtown. The closest hotel was 20 miles away. After initially getting lost, I was able to get on I-80 and checked in to my hotel at 11:59pm (2:59am my time). That's right, I have been up for 22 hours straight. I'm thinking to myself: "How will I perform tomorrow at the customer demo?" One thing is certain: Starbucks is going to make a lot of money out of me tomorrow!

Customer meeting

On Wednesday, I woke up at 5:45a after a 4.5 hr sleep. I went downstairs and had a power breakfast (coffee with eggs)! As I drove into San Francisco, I had to take the Golden Gate Bridge. As I approached it from the north, there was a spectacular view of it! Fog had completely covered it. It was awesome and very beautiful. As I entered the fog, I could only see 2 cars ahead of me.. So spooky!

Over at the office, we did yet another practice run to make sure we were still ok. Once we arrived at the customer site, I introduced myself and 2 different people asked me: "are you Luis, from Socialize Me" ? I was in shock. "Yes!! How did you find my blog", I asked. "Just randomly as we did our research on different social software platforms", they replied. AWESOME, the customer has already gone through my blog! This is fantastic! Lotus Connections pretty much sells by itself after reading my blog, I hope...

The meeting with the customer went from 1p-5pm. In my opinion, the meeting went very well and the customer had a lot of questions. I could tell that the customer had already listened to our top competitor. Once the meeting was "done", the customer asked us to stay for a bit to discuss some follow on items. I, unfortunately, had to leave to the airport to catch a 6:40p flight to LAX.

Will the adventure end?

I decided to fly SFO-LAX-JFK-SJU instead of SFO-JFK-SJU because the former was going to get me home 4 hrs before the latter. The SFO-LAX flight was a snap. The LAX-JFK flight boarded on time, but then we sat for 1.5 hrs at the gate because of a cockpit light that wouldn't go off. The flight arrived in JFK 10 minutes after my connecting flight had departed. That meant that I got stuck in JFK for 5 extra hours until the next flight. My expected 4 extra hours with the family quickly vanished! When it was time to board the JFK-SJU flight, the flight attendants were MIA (no, not in Miami, just Missing In Action). That meant an additional 30 minute delay.

When the plane finally starts to taxi to the runway, the pilot welcomes the travellers. He says that today's trip will be 300 miles longer because "we have to fly around some weather". At usual plane speeds (500 mph) that means an extra 36 minutes!! I am now getting home 6 hours later than my originally scheduled flight.

I just hope my bad luck with planes this week doesn't mean that the customer is not choosing IBM over our competitors...

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