I grew up within walking distance to Wrigley Field. Both my mom and my stepdad grew up on that same block (shout-out to my fellow Whipple Street residents!). Needless to say, we're a Cubs family. Our love for the Cubs runs deep—we bleed Cubbie blue.
I love this year's team motto: Everybody In. It's been a rough year for our family, with my stepdad being very ill. We've had to have "Everybody In" because it takes a village sometimes. I'm so grateful to have such an amazing network of friends who have helped my whole family get through the tough times—from bringing hot meals to my parents to lending me a should to cry on and even those simple "I'm here for you." text messages. Everybody was in.
It also applies to my professional life. But I can't give away all the secret sauce in this blog so pick up the July issue of Systems Contractor News (SCN) or read it online here: www.avnetwork.com/insights-and-blogs/everybody-in.
Your vibe does attract your tribe as the cool kids say these days. So what kind of vibes are you sending into the world? Let’s welcome those who may be new to the industry. Let’s embrace and learn from professionals seeking different perspectives on AV, from experience designers to VR developers.
When we welcome new contributors into the fold, our tribe grows stronger, not weaker. We can find new synergies as our tribe evolves to create new opportunities, perhaps ones you never imagined.
Read the full version of my June editor's letter:
InfoComm is less than two weeks away and I'M SO EXCITED! This is the first time in over a decade that I won't be on the exhibitor side of the fence so it'll be a whole new world for me.
I can't really say I'm sad to not be setting up in 100-degree heat, but I will definitely miss the camaraderie that comes from bonding over the aches and pains of putting a booth together. I also miss the Exhibitor Committee where I met a ton of new friends, and did a lot of idea-swapping. If you're exhibiting, you NEED to be a part of the committee (it's open to all!); contact Kurt St. Clair to get involved.
Speaking of bonding, I'm really looking forward to all the networking opportunities the show provides. I'm also stoked about my very cool friends teaching a variety of classes and educating #AVTweeps. With that said, here are some of the places you'll find me during InfoComm 2018 (and some shameless promotion for my friends!).
Tuesday, June 5
Emerging Trends Day
I could tell you all about this but I already did in the VIP issue of the InfoComm Show Daily. Missed it? Read more: www.avnetwork.com/news/emerging-trends-day-2018
8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
I'm sure you've all heard me rave about TIDE at the InfoComm 2017 show in Orlando. This year's TIDE is going to be even better because my girl Margot Douaihy is moderating a panel session—Designing the Customer Experience: Nike NYC Headquarters Case Study. While it's a full day event, Margot goes on at 10:45 a.m.
Read more: http://tideconference.com/las-vegas/las-vegas-schedule-at-a-glance
Park MGM, 8:00 a.m. - 5:45 p.m.
SCN InfoComm Installation Product Awards
We received many cool entries, and a team of top-secret integrators narrowed it down to three finalists per category. Who will take home the trophies?
Read more: www.avnetwork.com/systems-contractor-news/voting-opens-for-2018-scn-infocomm-awards
LVCC, Room N252, 2:00 p.m.
InfoComm Opening Reception
It's free to all attendees and at a super hip nightclub.
Read more: www.infocommshow.org/event-info/special-events/networking-receptions
Omnia Nightclub, 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.
SCN The Nine Meet Up
This year's class of #SCNTheNine is so cool that they independently planned their own meet up...and all via Twitter!
Read more: www.avnetwork.com/features/the-nine-2018
Nine Fine Irishmen, 9:00 p.m.
Wednesday, June 6
As the reigning 2017 Young AV Professional, I'm particularly excited for this crown-passing ceremony (totally dramatizing this). Catch up with all of the 2018 AVIXA Award winners and hear about their achievements on Day 1 of the show.
Read more: www.avnetwork.com/news/avixa-announces-2018-award-winners
LVCC, Booth N1646, 4:00 p.m.
AV Tweet Up
The AVNation AV Tweet Up is a chance for those of us who have connected online and through social media to meet IRL. Grab me for an #AVSelfie and tag me on Twitter @MeganADutta.
Read more and register: www.eventbrite.com/e/avnation-infocomm-2018-tweetup-tickets-45417651418
LVCC, Room N217, 4:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.
Thursday, June 7
AVIXA Women's Breakfast
This is one of my favorite events each year. It's where I first fan-girled Hope Roth (winner of this year's Educator of the Year!), and have met a ton of really cool women in the industry.
Westgate Hotel Las Vegas, Ballroom A, 7:30 - 9:30 a.m.
Friday, June 8
Center Stage is FREE to all attendees throughout the show and features 20-minute Ted-Talk-style presentations. But Friday is going to be especially powerful. Lady Gaga's producer DJ White Shadow and the famed Alesia Hendley within hours of each other? Need to see.
Read more: www.infocommshow.org/education--conferences/center-stage
LVCC, Booth N1646, 10:30 a.m. - 2:50 p.m.
As soon as the show floor closes, I'm off to enjoy a weekend in Vegas with my bestie. I plan to do some hiking, eat some good food, and have lots of girl talk.
Tell me: How will you recover from the show?
Truth is, I'm skilfully avoiding talking about InfoComm. I'm not ready. As of this writing, the show is less than 30 days away. There are so many exciting things that will happen at the show. And, unfortunately, I won't be able to write about all of them.
So, how can you up your marketing game and get your pieces published for the show? With over a decade of InfoComm marketing experience, and now being at the helm of SCN and the InfoComm Show Dailies, here is some advice from me to you.
Let me give the standard disclaimer: These are my opinions and mine alone. They don't reflect the opinion of my employer, my co-workers, the InfoComm Show, etc.
Press Releases: Around show time, I'm getting 25+ press releases a day (and that could be a generously low estimate). How do you make your stand out? First and foremost, give me everything I need all at once. Be sure the release includes all the product details and your booth number. Don't forget to include images and the company's social handles. I want to share you news so make it easy for me to tag you on Twitter!
Break down all that product mumbo-jumbo and be sure to give me more than the what. I want to know the why and how. Why does your widget make financial sense? How does your widget make life easier for installers, experience designers, and consultants?
We prefer releases in a Word doc so it's easy to copy and paste all those fun facts. I like to receive multiples images, but please don't embed 10 MB files in an e-mail. Have you ever tried to download a large image using a VPN over hotel WiFi? Yeah...not fun. If you can, use a service like DropBox or Google Drive. Put all of the assets I'll ever need in one place, including the Word doc, contact info, and images. Don't forget to provide captions for the images!
Also, get on The Wire for avnetwork.com. It's a free service that automatically uploads your press releases to avnetwork.com. Also, it's where we dig for stories for the InfoComm Sneak Peeks e-mails.
Need instructions for The Wire? E-mail me: email@example.com.
Social Media: Be sure your social media, especially your Twitter account, is active year-round, not just shortly before the big show. If you haven't tweeted in the last six months, @SCNMag probably isn't following you. We routinely go through and unfollow inactive accounts.
Social media is the perfect free and fun way to engage the industry in thought-provoking conversations, or show off the fun side of your brand (who doesn't love to post a funny situational gif?). Don't forget about Instagram. I sometimes find my next systems snapshot on Instagram when I see a really cool AV installation.
Post plenty of #AVSelfie pics—we want to see you and your staff having fun at the show. And you totally want to be featured in the official #AVSelfie video!
Don't forget to use the official hashtag: #InfoComm18
Pre-Show Phone Calls: The latest trend is to get editors on a pre-show call to talk all about the cool technology you'll have at the show. Great, right? For you, maybe. For me, no. On a normal day, I'm busy. Three weeks before the show? Can't eat, can't sleep, can't breathe busy. While I'd love to talk to everyone about their revolutionary product launches, I just simply don't have enough time in the day. I'd much rather have a press release with all the details I need. I'll file it away and pull the info when I'm looking to write about that particular product category.
Free Marketing: Did you know AVIXA offers a ton of free marketing resources for the InfoComm show? If you're not already, you should be taking advantage of these services. Click here to get them: http://www.infocommshow.org/for-exhibitors/free-marketing-support/free-marketing-resources
Don't forget to tell everyone you know about your Exhibitor VIP Code. Attendees will love you for getting them onto the show floor for free. Make it fun and turn it into a contest for your own staff—see who can get the most customers to use your code. Oh, and you can win up to $10,000 off your 2019 booth space if you get the most registrants! Details here: http://www.infocommshow.org/for-exhibitors/free-marketing-support/exhibitor-vip-code-contest
Want more tips like this?
Check out me, Barbara Blaskowsky (aka Queen of AVIXA), Chris Neto, and TIm Albright on the latest episode of AVSocial: #NoPosers
Want to meet me IRL at InfoComm 2018?
Then catch me (and SO many more cool #AVTweeps) at the AV Tweetup.
Wed, June 6
4 - 6 p.m.
LVCC, Room N217
Most of you know Margot Douaihy—and if you don't, you're missing out. Today is, unfortunately, her last day as Content Director of AVTechnology Magazine. I can't be too sad about it because she's staying on as Editor-at-Large, and is pursuing her dreams of being an independent storyteller.
Margot has come to be more than a co-worker to me: she's a friend, work wife, and mentor. Basically, when I grow up, I want to be her. So, on her last day as a full-time Future plc employee, here is a tribute to Miss Margot Douaihy and her many amazing qualities.
Passion Margot is one of the most passionate people I know. And she's not passionate about just one thing—she puts her heart and soul into every single thing she does. It's evident in her work. She can talk for hours about AV-over-IP, blockchain and bitcoins...all the things most people would find mundane. Not only does Margot make herself an expert, she is genuinely interested in all of those subjects. Her passion is evident in her writing. Want to see for yourself? Click here to read articles she's authored for AVTechnology Magazine.
Kindness You will not find a kinder soul than Margot's. She is genuinely interested in helping people. When I first started at Systems Contractor News, I called Margot nearly every hour on the hour with a question. She never made me feel stupid (and, trust me, some of my questions were stupid); she patiently took the time to answer each and every question I had. She's the best friend you'll ever have—one of the few people I know I can call any day, any time when I am in need of an ear to bend.
Mentor Margot is a mentor to many. She never fails to pass along her wisdom. She doesn't hold her lessons learn close to her chest; she shares them with the world so others can learn from her experiences. Margot has shown me what it truly means to be a journalist, and how to be vulnerable, honest, and inclusive. She's helped me handle the tough stories and showed me how to report the truth in difficult situations. And I know for a fact that she's helped others because she just won the 2018 Mattera Mentorship Award; this award honors "leaders who excel in mentoring and helping to shape the careers of less experienced colleagues."
Educator Educator and mentor go hand-in-hand. You can't be one without the other, and Margot is the epitome of both. Fun fact: Margot serves as a Lecturer and Advisor at Franklin Piece University in Rindge, NH. With her new found free time, I have no doubt we will see Margot teaching many AV classes at shows like InfoComm and Integrated Systems Europe (ISE). She will definitely be dropping all kinds of knowledge bombs at the SCN Think Tank and AV/IT Summit in San Jose on April 19th. And, yes, that is a semi-shameless plug.
#RESIST No matter what side of the political fence you fall on, you have to appreciate someone who fights for what they believe in...and actively works toward making the world a better place. Combine Margot's sense of social justice with her innate passion, and, as The Killers would say, "She's got soul but she's not a soldier."
So, cheers to you, Margot. Looking forward to watching where you go with life's next adventure!
International Women's Day is held annually on March 8th; the holiday was created to celebrate the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women.
This year's theme is #PressforProgress and the focus is on gender parity. Would you believe it if I told that you gender parity isn't predicted to occur for over 200 years. Yes, you read that right—over 200 years.
I hope we can drop that number even lower; I might not see equality in my lifetime, but I can catapult it further for future generations. So today, let's start making a change together.
Click here to check out a list of female-centric events designed to further equality.
Click here to read more about gender parity.
Click here to read more about leaders creating inclusive workplaces.
Click here to learn how purposeful collaboration encourages gender parity.
Here it is a month later and I'm STILL thinking about CES. I'm so disappointed and disillusioned with the show. Let's start with something that sparked the conversation: all six CES keynotes were male; five of those males were white. If that's not a slap in the face of diversity, I don't know what is.
I wanted to start this blog with facts and the number of women in tech. But it was SO hard to find any current information, which was scary to me. I'd love to think it's because there's a 50/50 split and it's not an issue...but we all know that's not the case. The closest thing I could find was from a 2016 Girls Who Code report: 26 percent of computing jobs are held by women. For the sake of this conversation, let's assume 26 is also the "magic" number for women in tech.
So if the tech population is 26 percent female, why couldn't CES find ONE female speaker? Just ONE—that would be proportional to the percentage of women in tech. When asked about it, the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), who runs CES, had a lackluster and disappointing response: ""This is a global issue—not just within the technology sector—all industries and our society at large can and must do better."
If you ask me, this is a sorry excuse for a huge miss. The way we do better is by actively recruiting and inviting qualified minorities to speak. Believe me, it is not impossible to find a C-Level female executive willing to speak at the largest consumer technology show on the planet. In fact, it's not even hard. Kristin Lemkau, chief marketing officer of JPMorgan Chase, who has spoken at CES herself, drew up her own list of 21 women headliners "in less time than it took to drink coffee."
We can say to ourselves, it's all about recruiting females and minorities to STEM as much as we want. This is only a small part of the solution; most of the time, it's just the default CYA excuse when we're not actively working to recruit diverse populations. To serve the community, we need to work harder to seek out minority groups, whether they're females, people of color, transsexual, disabled, etc.
My friend Alexis LaBrois has a great quote that I steal often "If you can see me, you can be me." When we feature diversity in positions of note, it attracts minorities.
CES has been "apologizing" and making excuses for years with no real movement to becoming a more inclusive environment, especially when it comes to gender.
Want to actually do better? Ban the booth babes. Once again, the CTA has a weak answer to this. The association said each exhibitor "should choose how they want to represent themselves." I'd love to just skip the booths who choose to have scantily-clad females, but it can't be avoided. CES is a professional trade event, not a car show, so why are we putting up with this? It's clear that exhibitors will not stop using booth babes until a professional dress code policy is put in place. Should those exhibitors be held accountable? Yes. But should CES just take the step to stop it? Also yes.
InfoComm, for example, put a professional dress code policy in place, a measure that was actually voted in by its Exhibitor Committee. Why does this matter? Why do I care so much about this? Because when hired females are wearing minimal clothing on the show floor, it sets a precedent that women in booths are just hired talent there to look good. Don't believe me? Ask pretty much any female exhibitor and she'll likely share a story about how she was summarily dismissed because she was attractive and visitors believed her to be just eye-candy.
I feel like I need to sum this up with saying I don't want females and other underrepresented populations in speaking slots just to be .the token minority. I see this a lot on social media—a woman shouldn't be a keynote speaker just to have a female keynote speaker. No, they shouldn't. But we need to represent all minorities, even if that means we have to change our policies and spend an extra few minutes finding someone to fit the bill.
It's Valentine's Day and I'm full of cheesey mushiness. I even posted about love on the SCN blog!
Rolling with my #GladtoBeHere attitude and practicing gratefulness, I thought I'd list out some things I love.
This is obviously obvious. Sid's a cool dude. He treats me well, makes me laugh, and is a total tech nerd.
Rory, our chiweenie, has a mind of her own. She makes me laugh every single day. Whether she's following me around the house like a shadow or begging me for a belly rub, she's just a "happy happy girl" as my family likes to say. I love her spunky attitude.
Sophia & Noah
Speaking of spunky attitudes and making me laugh, if you've met me even once, you've probably heard me talk about my four-year-old niece, Sophia Bee. She has an Auntie-Megan sized attitude and a heart of gold. And then there's her older brother, Noah. He's nine and still lets me read to him. He's got jokes. He's as curious as a cat. He loves crystals. He's one of my favorite humans.
I need nature. If I go a week or two without a long walk in the woods, my soul gets crunchy. Spending time with the trees makes my heart soar. Add in some mountains and I've died and gone to heaven.
I'm sure you know by now how much I love to read. Case-in-point--last year's reading of over 41 books. Right before I started this blog, I was snuggled up on the couch (with Rory, obviously) diving into A Man Called Ove.
Terrible Reality TV Shows
I'd be embarrassed to name some of the TV shows I watch. Let me rephrase that: I should be embarrassed to name some of the TV shows I watch. Love After Lockup, Below Deck, and Vanderpump Rules to name a few. Sid will literally leave the room if he catches me watching these. But they're the perfect time to just let my brain go and have some mindless laughs.
Kinda weird but water is my favorite beverage. Pretty much the only thing I drink (except for the occasional orange or apple juice) and I just LOVE IT SO MUCH! Oh, and I love lakes and the ocean. But I'm mostly talking about that yummy Chicago tap water.
Wow. This list is a little weird. But that's okay because I am, too! So here's to having a lovely Valentine's Day with your favorite weirdo. :)
Would you be shocked to know I was called the Dream Killer for many years at work? I project a persona of positivity. And I am generally positive. But I also know that we can't better ourselves without a little hard work, persistence, and pain.
I can come up with some crazy ideas (just ask my former co-workers), but, if they're not executable, or within budget, they're tossed out with the trash.
In my personal life, I'm not the friend people go to when they just want to cry about something.* I'm not one to get caught up in the minutia of the break-up, not getting that dream job, and having a less-than-perfect life perfect. I'm more likely to assess the situation, give you my opinion on how to fix it, and move on. Heck, I'll even write you a five-step program to help you get there!
But dwell on it with you? Nope, not my bag, baby.
P.S Shout-out to my girl Katie Johnson who also keeps it real. True story: when we started working together, my employees called me the Dream Killer and her employees called her the Dream Crusher. We lived (and still do!) harmoniously in our non-fiction world.
*Feel like I have to add this note in—I'm not a monster. If there's a devastating situation happening, I will DEFINITELY be a shoulder for my friends to cry on.
Megan A. Dutta