Why I Chose Danny

In early 1999, I was a vice president at Oracle, standing at the back of an auditorium in Caesars Palace, watching the keynote speaker I had invited to a conference I had created.

The conference was an employee-only event that assembled a few hundred of the top technical folks from Oracle divisions all over the world. Getting to come to this event was a reward for a good year.

The cost of this event was staggering. But my boss, Sandy Sanderson (president of Oracle Consulting), was comfortable paying for it. I had hosted a similar event the year before in Grapevine, Texas, and Sandy liked the results so much that he had granted his blessing to do it again. And bigger this time.

[Fun fact: I don’t remember much about the Grapevine event in 1998 because, even though I was the host and executive producer of it, I wouldn’t be able to attend it. On the first morning, I presented my Welcome and Keynote, and then by noon I was on an airplane to join my team in Orange County, to continue the adventure that I’ve chronicled in chapter 9 (“Forty-Nine Grievances”) of How to Make Things Faster.]

So, back to Caesars Palace in 1999. The keynote presenter I had invited was Dr. Daniel A. Menascé, a professor from George Mason University. Dr. Menascé had introduced himself to me as Danny in our communications leading up to the event.

I had invited Danny because I wanted to emphasize capacity planning as an important topic for the coming year at Oracle, and Danny’s name was on the spine of all my best books about capacity planning.

Of course, he was expensive. There was a stipend, and part of our deal was first-class airfare between Virginia and Las Vegas. None of that was hard to get approved, and his session was worth the price.

As I watched Danny Menascé work, I caught myself thinking, here’s this university professor, traveling first-class from across the country, making some extra cash at a corporate event, having a little adventure and meeting a bunch of new people. Most professors probably don’t get to do that very often.

So, I thought, what’s the difference between Danny, who was having a grand day out at Caesars Palace, and another professor who was grinding out yet another usual day back home? Danny Menascé had distinguished himself by writing about what he knew. It was Danny on my stage instead of some other professor from some other university because Danny wrote the book.

(Actually, books. Plural.)

It put a smile on my face that my guest was killing it. Danny was taking my audience exactly where I had hoped he would.

It also occurred to me… actually I’m here for the same reason that Danny is. Throughout my whole career at Oracle, I had committed to sharing everything I learned: scripts, papers, courses, …everything. The pathway of sharing—which was not automatic everywhere within Oracle—was why this was my event and not someone else’s. It was why the event even existed in the first place: the “symposium” idea that I had pitched to Sandy was just another of my schemes to facilitate sharing.

I encourage you to follow that pathway, too. Invest into your sharing skills—specifically, writing and presenting. Sharing can help make your life more interesting and more prosperous.


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