If you have been around SolidWorks for any amount of time, more likely than not you have heard the phrase "Emotional Paycheck". It's a phrase used often by SolidWorks employees when they describe the feeling of hearing how SolidWorks is used by a customer to do something great.
Attending SolidWorks World 2009 as an employee gave me the chance to really experience my first emotional Paycheck. In fact I had quite a few. One of the best things about going to SolidWorks World 2009 as an employee, was being able to interact with our customers on a totally new level. Last year, and this year I was stopped by a few people who introduced themselves to me as loyal readers of this blog. We got to talk shop for a few minutes, and I got to thank them for following along. This year along with readers of the blog stopping me, I was also stopped by everyday customers who just wanted to say thanks for SolidWorks World, talk about the software, or make some suggestions about how SolidWorks could work better for them. It was fascinating to hear about all the different products that were being designed in SolidWorks, and see the passion every single one of these users shared for doing the work they do.
The work schedules of SolidWorks employees at SWW each year is usually pretty tight. Many of us have multiple meetings, events to host, and presentations to give. Unfortunately this doesn't leave very much time to get to just walk around and chat with people. I was lucky enough to get to go to one lunch, and one breakfast period over the three day conference. At the Wednesday morning breakfast I made it a point to sit down at a table full of people I had never met, and then spent a good 30 minutes hearing about all the cool stuff they do. The conversations that were the most fun to have were the ones with people who were attending their first SWW ever. For them my question was always the same, what did you think when you walked into the general session hall. The answer was usually the same in hearing them describe the rock concert atmosphere, and the professional level of production of the sessions. They were all amazed at the 60 foot by 30 foot high definition screen.
On Wednesday night after the conference had wrapped up, a bar in the lobby of the Swan hotel was pretty much taken over by SolidWorks employees. Karaoke was the event of the night, and there was no shortage of blue shirted American Idol hopefuls! Included in that group was a brief on stage appearance of SolidWorks C.E.O. Jeff Ray who joined in for a few choruses of a popular rock and roll song. Jeff, like all the other SolidWorks employees was there to celebrate another great SWW that had just wrapped up.
The most surreal moment for me was just before the CSWP event kicked off. The Certification Team was taking a few minutes to sit down and get a bite to eat before our guests arrived for the party. I stood up to clear the table, and as I glanced over towards the hotel, I saw a procession of over 500 CSWP's making their way to the venue to blow off some steam for the night. I told everyone to take a look, and we were all blown away at that site. I think it was that moment that I truly realized how lucky I was to be able to help so many people have fun for a few hours.
So just as quickly as SWW began, it also ended. I remember sitting in my seat at the general session on Wednesday thinking how disappointed I was that it was already the last day. The great part is that SWW 2010 is already less then a year away!