This past week started in Las Vegas where I attended AWS:reInvent, Amazon’s developer conference. 53,000 developers, partners, and sponsors descended on The Sands Expo Center to learn of Amazon’s vision for the future of cloud computing. As I look back on a busy week of customer meetings and event participation, I realize with the exception of a couple of close connections with colleagues and customers, I felt alone in sea of people. —How is it that we can feel so disconnected when surrounded by so many people?
As the show concluded, I grabbed the first flight to Sacramento to run CIM (The California International Marathon). My older brother has run this race for several years and it’s now become a tradition to run together.
As we lined up at the start, I found myself yet again surrounded by people. The overwhelming collective experience of the start became an individual one as our focus shifted to breathing, pacing and maintaining composure. We were still in it together but each of us had prioritized individual goals. It felt incredibly enlivening to be around so many people.
Comparing the two experiences, the binding factor of the road race was physical accomplishment. The conference in Nevada was a commercial event in the quintessential location for manufactured experiences with the biding factor being commercial/professional development. Both are of course important, the environment makes the difference. You have to be more intentional in a location like Las Vegas where everything is “turned up to eleven” to nurture meaningful connections.
It is up to each of us to make an effort to connect with those around us. If not, time will pass and we will easily miss opportunities to learn, connect and grow. The takeaway is these things are harder in a physical location where everything is a facade.