My parents always warned me about accepting mysterious offers from strangers, but I’ve always been a bit naive and a hopeless romantic optimist. If you had asked me if I could ever imagine myself working a convention booth, I would have said you are crazy, and yet here’s the photographic proof of my life as a Google Booth Babe.
That’s me hanging out with my admirers at the Google Booth. They couldn’t wait to take a picture of me. I’m in the yellow shirt. That’s right… the YELLOW shirt. Wait are you saying I’m not a Booth Babe? (Feeling so hurt)
So… anyways I wanted to share with you what it’s like working a booth for a company, specifically Google and what I learned while working the booth. It’s not something that happens every day and this might help you if you are curious about the process.
It all started with a mysterious invitation.
Click the letter to enlarge it and read
Based on the above I honestly thought that I would be running around the Educause convention with a mask, disrupting sessions, or pranking big-wigs with fake interviews or driving a tractor through the conference hall. Naturally I signed up. I had no clue what was really going down.
Based on the few interactions I had with the mysterious Mr. “D” I started forming a picture in my mind. He didn’t use Twitter often, didn’t use GHOs or other trendy ways of interacting so I pictured him as in his late 60s, kinda a slight radical, heart in the right place, gets stuff done, very busy. Only the 3rd and last two assumptions proved correct.
We were asked to sign up to present. I was REALLY worried about this because you should see some of the names that were presenting on stage with me: Dan Russell (recently featured in LifeHacker), Jordan Peraza, Alice Keeler, Alice Chen, my Google mentor Cory Pavicich and many more:
click image to enlarge
So apparently I’m presenting in a large theatre in front of 100s. Scary and Awesome.
I wish I could share with you the Google Spreadsheet used for planning. It was pretty impressive There were a TON of sheets- this was a big undertaking by Mr. “D.”
So the night before Educause we all meetup at a restaurant in the hotel near the Anaheim Convention center. Dinner was lovely, but the company was even better. Besides some fellow GTA teachers, the “Googlers” were as nice, smart and thoughtful as all get out. We heard some great and some sad stories from the Googlers, including Mr. D. We got our t-shirts and I finally got the sense that I knew what was going down. I wasn’t speaking in a big Theater, I was speaking here:
The Amazingly Talented Sean O’Neil
So what did I learn from my experience?:
1. Once again I learned how RAD Alice Keeler is:
She KILLS it in her presentations doing all sorts of awesome with spreadsheets and data.
She is the only teacher I know who regularly gets the “The” treatment without being prompted. When WE say “THE” Alice Keeler it’s not a joke. I mean we say it with a smile, but it’s NO JOKE.
Alice may be a fiscal conservative (unless it comes to spending money on students) but she is a raging FUN machine. She is a living embodiment of The Monkey Wrench Gang, always looking to tweak something.
She even hacked another booth’s printer so she could print up some fun stuff just to prove she could. PS do NOT leave her as an editor of a doc you are using during a presentation. She will have FUN with that WHILE you are presenting.
2. I learned that you have THREE main purposes when you work a booth for a company:
Number ONE is:
Get LEADS for the company. People have questions about the products your company is offering. You scan their information and create a contact/lead for the company to follow up with. For most people it’s a welcome contact, a few people were just there to grab some free swag and are a bit reluctant to let you scan their info. No biggie. You just do it and move on. Alice was a pro at making this perfunctory exchange seem delightful.
Number TWO is to present and draw a crowd.
I really enjoyed my Google presentation on turning your PD inside/out and I learned that speaking with a mic around your neck is tricky. Every time I moved my head to talk to someone my mouth moved away from the mic. You have to act like you are wearing a neck brace when you talk. That’s hard for me I’m pretty active when I talk.
Number THREE is answer questions and engage: boy did I ENJOY that!
I hung out with this awesome Librarian and we debated the Googlers about the importance of librarians in the future. You can follow Tracey Leger-Hornby by clicking on her name.
THEN I had the pleasure of teaching someone how to record a GOA and use Q and A tools for her VERY first time. We used Alice’s account to do it (sorry Alice!). This young lady was a blast. She reminded me of my mom in that she didn’t care that she didn’t know ANYTHING she was going to DO IT. I walked her step-by-step through the entire process as she took notes with paper and pen. Dang I wish I could teach one-on-one all the time.
3. I learned that Google always hires great people.
The people working at for Google were so smart, so nice. I felt even MORE pride that I was chosen for the Google Teacher Academy. If these people want to have me around I feel honored.
4. I learned that Cory Pavich GETS the importance of having awesome full screen images to capture your audience. You should hire him to present or keynote he’s super bad donkey.
5. I learned that SOME companies, like INSTRUCTURE, (they created the LMS CANVAS) know how to play nice with everyone. Just like Google, Instructure believes in open APIs and that was a big reason why my large district- Huntington Beach Union High School District recently adopted and purchased Canvas for our whole district.
6. I learned that when you are working or teaching it’s always important to have a fun working environment and to have silly/sneaky contests like trying to see who can pin a certain sticker inside another company’s booth…
7. Lastly, I learned that after all is said and done with my chilling w/ the cool Googlers and GTAs it’s nice to come home and spend time with family.
So if you get a strange email asking you to “disrupt” a learning conference- do it, even if it means you have to wear a tight t-shirt and provide a little eye candy for the masses. PS if you paid attention and looked closely you might have been able to spot “Mr. D.” I hope you get a chance to meet Mr. D. one day, it’s an awesome experience.