SPSLondon - A brilliant although challenging weekend

Ryan YatesConsultant

Just a dude in his 30's doing things in Tech & trying to break the stigma's around talking about Mental Health

So this Saturday saw SPSLondon come upon us and like any other event like this it brings with it some very interesting and difficult decisions on which sessions to attend.

As an attendee I would have found it very difficult to decide on which sessions that I would have attended - but to then add to that as a presenter and you​ can imagine some of the additional headaches that can and in my case did happen.

However lets back step a little and actually go through some of the pre-event activities that I had to go through and what better place to start that Monday night / Tuesday morning.

So I was asked at about 11pm Monday night to present at SPSLondon - Now if I’m in bed at that time its rare and Monday certainly was not an exception to the norm and I was actually in mid progress of trying to 100% Song 2 by Blur on Guitar Hero 5 and just like I had been trying for a few weeks before hand (I eventually did manage this too btw!)

Anyway the news left me being ecstatic and there was little hope of me being able to sleep easily that night. So I did the next best thing and decided that I would try and stay up for Todd Klindt’s Podcast - which for me in the UK is at like 2:30 am due to BST (such a pain)  I have to say that I have really enjoyed each one and yes I’ve attended a few now.

Todd had Kirk Evans @kaevans on as a special guest this week and I have to say the two of them really compliment each other whilst doing these types of shows and if you get the opportunity - I mean have a Monday night that your finding it difficult to sleep - then catch Todd’s Podcast as I know you’ll enjoy it.

So that ended my Monday and Tuesday wasn’t an eventful day - being quite tired it ended being a very much coffee & Red Bull fuelled day.

Wednesday is where the fun started to begin - I realised that all my travel plans would need to be thrown out of the window and revisited - mainly to ensure that I could attend the Speakers event on the Friday night so that lead to me messing around with trains etc for the travel down - luckily I did not need to change my Hotel else that would have been even more disastrous.

Thursday came a bit of a mad panic at work about ensuring that I could take Friday off to travel down early and get sorted etc and relax a bit before the event. Luckily my manager was and is very accommodating for these things and had no problem with agreeing around it.

Then on Thursday came the first of a few mistakes that I made. Firstly I arranged my revised train ticket as a Single though I only really realised that this was my first mistake on Sunday when I was planning to come back earlier than another ticket I had already purchased.

Secondly I was in London for almost 2 days - So why did I feel it necessary to pack 2 Laptops, my tablet, 3 external hard drives with VM’s and videos etc and then pack 7 different shirts, 4 different pairs of trousers, 3 pairs of shoes and enough toiletries to last me in London a month. I also stupidly packed food & drink for the weekend - granted only things like crisps, sweets and a few cans for the trains, but in reflection this was unneeded and I will revisit it for any future events that I attend/present at.

The Third mistake that I made wasn’t really the third mistake - in fact I should really say that this was the Second mistake and it goes back well before last week.

In fact it would be simpler and more accurate to say that this mistake was the choice in the session.

I say this in hindsight as I knew that it was never going to be a very popular session - I even would go as far as to say that the session was pitched at the wrong event completely and wasn’t really a best fit for the event. However to have been chosen to present this session at all was an honour especially seeing as there was so many great sessions and I was lucky to get chance to get into a few of the ones that I had wanted to get into however there were a few that I had to miss due to timetable clashes - which is to be expected at events like this.

The final but more adequately described as the first mistake was that as a person that has badly suffered over the years with varying levels of social anxiety and is still very much struggling with it ( this is my first time admitting this openly in any form at all - I haven’t even verbally admitted this to anyone ) to put myself under the pressure of presenting at National event like this has been a strenuous and stressful experience for me and I was in panic mode all weekend though I’m sure that it didn’t come across that way - all I can say that the flow of drinks in the speakers do and the after SharePint certainly helped it not be at the forefront of my thoughts and helped me just enjoy the weekend.

I have been doing what I can over the last few months to help me to relax some of the social anxiety by attending more of the SUGUK user groups across the UK - I’ve been to all the NW events this year as well as attending Leeds & West Midlands too. I have also attended the LeanAgile meet up in Manchester as well as a smaller one in my current town of Macclesfield called Digital Edge.

I am intending to attend other events where I can as to help alleviate this being a pressing issue though it originated when I was at Secondary School - so its been an issue now for well over 10 years but its only recently started to become more manageable and that is because I’m pushing myself to overcome it.

That being said the weekend has been one that I have enjoyed the whole way because everyone that I’ve met this weekend have all been fantastic and as I tweeted on Sunday - SPSLondon really reinforced the value of the community to me and I feel privileged to have been a part of the initial history of SPSLondon and have enjoyed meeting everyone involved and will continue to do so for many future events to come in which I hope that over time I will become more at ease at being around these events and be seen to be less “head in the clouds” and essentially being a disorganised chaotic mess as I was on Saturday.

I finally must give it up for all the Speakers, Sponsors, Volunteers & Organisers at SPSLondon that made it such a success and to all of them that I did not introduce myself to due to being in panic mode I hope that there will be other times to enjoy their company under better personal circumstances at future events.

But most importantly - Thanks to all of the attendees of SPSLondon including those that attended my session even though there were in my opinion better sessions to attend at the same time.

Events like SPSLondon wouldn’t be possible without the community having a desire for these events. So will you see me at SPSLondon 2016 ? And will I be putting forward to be a presenter ?

We will just need to wait and see!

My slide deck from my session is available at SUGUK & SPSLondon Side deck