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Southwest Fox: The Wrap Up

Finally to the wrap up. Based on feedback given to me at the conference, emails received since, and scanning through a third of the evals handed in, I can say we are getting the same positive vibes about Southwest Fox 2008 as we did in 2007. Many people have noted that we did an even better job this year, which I honestly thought was going to be tough to do. We are also getting lots of suggestions for improvement and I can assure you we take each suggestion and give it serious consideration. I hope those who attended Southwest Fox 2007 noticed several improvements in 2008 based on ideas submitted.

“Bring a FoxPro Ambassador to Southwest Fox 2009″ – $1161 (collected and pledged)

All I can say is WOW! There are a couple of things I want to mention about the fund. The first is 100% of donated money will go to the travel costs for the ambassador. Not a single penny will be used to cover administrative costs. The conference fees will be covered by Geek Gatherings (Rick, Doug, and Tamar). All time managing the fund and working through the selection process will be donated. No one will be paid for their time. So if you want to donate to the fund, please send a check or we can arrange non-credit card PayPal transaction so we don’t have to eat unnecessary discount fees. Checks can be made out to Geek Gatherings, LLC. Please note the “Ambassador Fund” in the check memo even though it will be obvious. All checks can be mailed to:

Geek Gatherings, LLC
Ambassador Fund
42759 Flis Dr.
Sterling Heights, MI 48314

We definitely will share more in the coming months as far as the nomination and selection process. We will be consulting others in the worldwide Fox Community to define the selection process and hopefully get something in place around the first of the year.

Southwest Fox Final statistics

9 countries (more than last year)
37 US states (more than last year)
135 attendees registered
58 people attending their first SWFox
28 people attending first Fox conference
16 speakers
10 vendors (more than last year)
3 staff
164 in total

SWFoxTV – I have heard a lot of positive feedback on the live broadcasts. I was amazed how people from around the world watched this live and provided feedback in the chats (which is unfortunately lost once the live feed is done). The VFPX session was particularly interesting as it turned out to be sort of a teleconference with questions being posted from those watching. I think we need to expand a little on this next year.

Our bribe for evals worked. 78% of the people turned in evaluations this year vs. the 60% from last year. A huge THANKS! I was hoping we would get 80-90%, so close enough. If you accidentally or even intentionally took your eval home and still want to help us out, please drop it in the mail to the address above. I already received one via the postal service so be assured you won’t be the only one. The more the merrier. If you prefer to send us ideas without the eval, please email them to me, or drop me a letter in the mail if you want to remain anonymous.

I want to finish up by thanking a few people. First our core “staff”: Therese and Marshal. These two individuals know a little about our community, but have nothing to do with software development. Their real affiliation is to be married to one of the organizers. Yet over the last couple of years they handled and solved many of the behind the scenes issues that pop up during the conference like making sure the chairs in the back of the room were distributed as needed based on popularity of some sessions. They just handled things and I am sure to this day there are things I don’t even know about. I am grateful for their help and support of our conference. Without them we would be even busier during the conference.

To our speakers – we are once again in debt to you. I know how much work and sacrifice it takes to put together your sessions. Some of our speakers have to take vacation time to come to Southwest Fox, or give up billable hours to be there. It absolutely is not easy even though they might make it look like it is. For my readers: each session averages between 40 and 80 hours of planning, writing, assembling and rehearsing. Some obviously spent more, and some probably spent less. I know one of our speakers this year put 200 hours into one session. This is five man-weeks! They do not get paid for this. They do it for the love of the community, and it is in their genetics to share with others. While some of the speakers have threatened to retire, I already look forward to seeing what the rest offer us for next year. I have already seen some ideas proposed and it is exciting. Our speaker community is one of the best around and I look forward to hearing from new people too, so get inspired and consider submitting ideas next February when we make the call for speakers for 2009 (we will post the announcement on the conference blog, personal blogs, and on the forums so watch for it).

To Doug and Tamar – I cannot say enough about these two. The success of this conference is highly dependent on the partnership of the three of us and our workload distribution and areas of expertise. It is absolutely good to know I can rely on my partners. When something gets delegated I know it will get done and done well. Each time I felt the water level raise around my neck one of these two stepped up and made sure to pull the stopper out so the water level would stop rising. I already posted some where that Doug may be the single most organized person I know. I thought I was pretty well organized, but Doug is light years ahead of me. His handling of our vendors and door prizes, the Web site, our conference booklet, and marketing was terrific this year. Tamar handles all the speaker details once the three of us make the selections. I am not sure the schedule of sessions could be any better, and I doubt there is a speaker out there that does not know when our deadlines are and what our expectations are for materials. We know how important our speakers are; they are the reason most people come to the conference.

Finally to the people who attend Southwest Fox. Your support for this conference over the last couple of years has surpassed our expectations both times. THANKS! Without people like you this conference would be fading into the sunset as many people have predicted. When I told people I was taking this over from Bob after the 2006 conference I was told by some I was crazy. Wasting my time. Conferences are on the down slide, people will not support it, the Internet has destroyed the business model. Me thinks not. The networking I observed during this year’s conference may have surpassed the networking I have seen at any conference I have attended. My Twitter list has grown significantly since the conference finished as many of the attendees discovered it is not a complete time sink, but another way to connect with colleagues. I met a lot of new people in the community this year. I also have seen the interest in VFPX swell over the last couple of weeks. All of this would not have happened if the conference did not occur.

So thanks all for your support and please look forward with great expectations for Southwest Fox 2009 being held in Mesa October 15-18th, 2009.

Only 354 days until we gather in Mesa! {g}


3 Responses to “Southwest Fox: The Wrap Up”

  1. October 26th, 2008 at 08:16 | #1

    Awesome blog posts regarding Southwest Fox 2008. I enjoyed reading them. Thanks for all you do Rick.

    Oh, and it was after 3 AM when you left the Feltman’s #709 porch. You were nodding in and out of consciousness for the last hour though.

  2. andreas (Cyprus)
    October 27th, 2008 at 04:23 | #2

    Firstly congratulations for keeping VFP alive!
    I am interesting in to buy staff, if is possible, from SouthWest Fox Conference such as presentations, examples etc.

  3. October 27th, 2008 at 10:03 | #3

    If you are interested in the conference materials please contact Geek Gatherings, LLC via email or phone. Both found on Web site http://swfox.net.

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