Ignite Phoenix 7 wrapped up, and I’m in that lull where I’m excited by how well it went, and partially relieved to not have it looming for another few months. This Ignite was by far bigger and more complicated than any we’ve tried before. It was the first time with a theme (Art Of…), first time at the Phoenix Art Museum, biggest audience (600), a live band, catered food, an ATM, and geeze… I don’t even know all what else. In the course of this process we managed vendors we’ve never had to before for chairs, projection systems, a stage, pipe & drape, bartenders, security, and that danged ATM. We also had out whole site nuked to some malware, took on new sponsors, participated in a design contest, and drank a whole crapload of coffee.
It’s quite possible we’ve lost our collective minds on this, and the post-mortem was definitely a high-energy meeting, but overall the event was just incredible. That happens as a result of many great groups of people coming together – the presenters, our sponsors, the audience, and of course the team that puts it all together. We start months in advance ot get everything going, and by the time Ignite happens we’re meeting weekly to keep on top of things. It’s a huge commitment and effort, and I wanted to take a minute to acknowledge some of these kick-ass people:
- Michael Barber – In spite of picking to run an Ignite at least twice the size of the past two combined, he knocked it out of the park. He kept a ton of moving parts from colliding or stalling and did whatever necessary to make things come together. He also is some sort of doughnut zombie, and if if your ever hear him grunt out “Loooong jooooohnnnzzz…” get the heck out of his way.
- Brian Carson – The man, the myth, the coaching machine. He doesn’t get rolling until the presenters are selected, then we all dive for cover. I don’t think many people realize how much he works with the presenters in a ton of personal and technical ways to help often novice presenters step up their game. From his coaching sessions to whipping together the final videos, he helps makes the presenters shine and their message get heard.
- Oden Hughes – The Grand Taskmistress kept track of all the things needing doing, and there were plenty! From organizing our meeting locations to smoothing out our event project plan, she kept it all aligned. As wrapper-upper of our event post-mortem she is often one of the first in and last out of every event.
- Jana Knapp – Not only did she make sure we had enough funds to pull this nutty thing off, but also helped coordinate our great shirt contest with the PHX Design Community and put together our incredible programs. Her Scotch consumption likely tripled during this event, but she never wavered.
- Matthew Petro – Communication and blog machine! This guy kept all the info flowing and people up to date, and single handedly had more bandwidth in motion than AT&T. This was also his first Ignite rodeo, but you would not have been able to tell the way he rode – and dealt with – the bull.
- Dannie Moriarty – My poor, long suffering wife handled the budget, venue items, and a whole lot of ticketing. How she manages to do all this and not stab me through the eye as I grumble and churn over each event is a mystery to everyone who knows her.
- Alan Dayley – If there is a job this guy won’t step up to do, quietly and without complain, I have yet to see it. Even the horrible Ticketing Role cannot slay him. He is a voice of reason in a lot of what we do, and a great balance to the team whose contributions are a lot more significant than he gives himself credit for.
- Andy Woodward – A close friend for the past millenium, he grabbed technical issues, video grunt work, layout coordination, and stage managed with an incredible finesse and a Checklist of Destruction that keeps everything rolling seamlessly.
- Fred von Graf – Our video maestro, he juggles and maintains our video process with a level of determination that also disappears behind the scenes sometimes. This has been an area of considerable challenge for us with the past few events, but Fred is always there with ideas, solutions, and a way to make things work.
- Brandon Franklin – Though I think we often drive the guy crazy, our ticketing wizard ran one of the most infuriatingly complicated parts of the event – getting people to their tickets and into their seats. If you think that sounds trivial, I highly, highly suggest you do not say that to his face. You may feel the business end of of a Taiko drumstick.
This group of people collectively kicked ass with one foot, because with their other feet they were doing things like putting on music shows, helping raise money for epilepsy, supporting mini-Ignites, launching acting careers, starting families of their own, creating energy guides, teaching training classeses, running non-profit groups, putting together conferences, organizing meet-ups, having full time jobs, and I’ve truly lost track of all what else.
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So many great companies, presenters, and volunteers go into making Ignite Phoenix happen that this is in no way meant to be an exclusive list. Just a bit of a fan letter to some really great people who I consider myself priveleged to know, work with, and learn from.
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