MCE Conf 2015

by Marcus Zarra

Late last year I was contacted by the organizers of MCE Conf and was asked to speak. Since it fit within my schedule (which can be its own challenge these days) I accepted without thinking too much about it.

Shortly after my acceptance I had heard that there was some controversy surrounding the conference about a comment made by one of the organizers who had attended another conference. After reading up on the controversy I figured; “oh well, how bad can it be?”

The short answer? It was amazing. I absolutely loved every minute of the conference.

The Venue

The conference proper was held at the Palace of Culture and Science in the center of Warsaw. The first floor of the palace has been converted into a movie theater. What this meant to me as a speaker is that I would be speaking to an audience in an amphitheater environment.

A little known secret.

A lot of speakers are introverts. Introverts spend energy to be in a group or crowd. When you are on stage you can feed off the audience’s energy to give a better performance. You feed off that energy by seeing the faces of the audience and their reactions to your talk.

In an amphitheater the speaker feeds off the entire audience, not just the front row or two.

The energy in the talks was amazing. It was almost palpable. After watching some of the talks on the first day I was excited to do my talk. I couldn’t wait to be the focus of that energy.

The people

I always learn a tremendous amount about other cultures when I travel outside of the USA to give a talk. When I arrive at a new venue the first thing I do is walk the city and just explore. Take in the vibe of the city and of the culture that I am being exposed to.

It is amazing what you can learn just walking around, visiting the shops, looking at the restaurants, etc. It is a fantastic way to learn about a place you have never been to before.

At the conference, the vibe was great. People were excited to be there. I was not recognized very much at this conference which worked to my benefit. I got to walk around, engage in conversations and just listen. Listen to the other speakers, listen to the attendees. Listen to the conversations instead of being the center of the conversation. I really learned a lot about how others go about being a developer or designer.

There were an incredible number of cultures represented at this conference. I dare say, more cultures than any other conference I have been to. I can’t say why it seemed so diverse but it was just a wealth of knowledge and experience to learn from.

My Talk

First talk of the year.

Completely new venue.

A technical talk without a single line of code.

What is there to be nervous about?

I approached the stage both excited and nervous. I have learned how to deal with the normal “I am on stage” nervousness (ask me over a drink sometime how I did that), this was another level. Everything could go wrong.

My talk already went through a last minute change just before I went on stage so I was past that.

I already rearranged how the stage worked so I got past that.

But still, new audience, new material.

For me; the talk was fantastic. The audience was incredible. From my first slide I felt the harmony and energy. As I clicked to the second slide I knew this talk was going to be great.

Others can judge the content of my talk.

Others can judge my presentation.

The audience and venue were so incredible that I was disappointed when I ran out of time. I wanted to feel that energy forever. I could have stayed up there forever.

It is the high I feel when I am racing motorcycles.

It is a high that no drug can give you.

As soon as it is over you want it again.

See you again soon

I hope to have another opportunity to speak at MCE. It was a fantastic experience for me.

And the controversy? As with most drama; completely overblown nonsense. A cultural mistranslation at best.