8 Days and Tampa Love

Ahhh…yet another beautiful Friday afternoon in Tampa. The sun is shining, temperatures are in the mid-60’s, and Phillies Spring Training in Clearwater is just right around the corner. I must say, I am feeling pretty darn good, and have a hop in my step today. I remember when I first moved to Florida, and in the beginning, I wasn’t sure this was the place for me. The culture was very different than what I was used to. In the early days, I even contemplated heading back to the Northeast, but I am sure glad I stayed put.


Over the last 8 days, I have been exposed to local gatherings that not only made me extremely proud and honored to be a part of this community, but downright excited for what’s happening in Tampa Bay.


Last Thursday was the inaugural Lean Beer (evening version of Lean Coffee, a popular group in the Agile community), and as 30 IT Leaders sat in a circle chatting about Best Practices in the Scrum Process, I sat back and observed that everyone had a smile on their face. Some really bright folks shared some really great tips of the trade, spoke of strategies to enhance our market, and had a great time doing so. The passion the Tampa ScrumMasters have for their craft and bettering our market is contagious.


The very next morning I went to Lean Coffee. Same format, minus the beers, and a bit more of an intimate group. I look forward to our gathering each month, not only to exchange success stories and struggles in retrospect, but also for the fellowship that comes along with the gathering. We all have a common goal, and that is to increase our skill level, and there is something special when folks from different enterprises, across various industries, come together and exchange their experiences, knowledge, and growing pains.


Then came Saturday morning, and after two consecutive days of hanging out with Agile Evangelists, Clearly Agile headed over to World IA (Information Architecture) Day.  We were thrilled to sponsor, attend, hear from some brilliant minds, and celebrate this growing Community of Practice with like-minded individuals around the world (literally, 68 cities, across 34 countries and 6 continents). I humbly admit that I still have a rough time explaining exactly what Information Architecture is, but I did see this quote that explains it nicely:


Information architecture is about helping people understand their surroundings and find what they’re looking for, in the real world as well as online.”


The most impressive takeaway from World IA Day was the crowd. Nearly 100 people gave up an entire Saturday to learn about this exciting practice and how it can help enhance our community. There was a great energy in the room, people we engaged, and when it was time to get together for workshops; complete strangers grouped themselves, collaborated, brainstormed, had fun, and became their own little problem-solving ecosystem. It was really great to be a part of World IA Day, and I will back next year.


I took a break on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday were quiet, and then Wednesday I got to see some familiar (smiling) faces at KForce for another Tampa Bay Agile gathering. The event was from 6:30pm – 8:30pm, and after the long workday, there was still a room full of energetic folks, chatting, laughing, and getting ready to talk some Agile. Our friend Phil gave an exceptional lecture, followed by a group/hands-on workshop, and of course there was typical fellowship aspect.


Yesterday it got even better. I first heard about the Thunderdome Project over a year ago at an NDIA (National Defense Industry Association) breakfast. It was announced that this was a program coming to Tampa that would tie our local Armed Forces (USSOCOM HQ), Commercial Industry and Enterprises, Universities, and Entrepreneurs of our community together. It was said at the inaugural Thunderdome Thursday yesterday afternoon that the movement is intended to “connect the dots” between us all. They did not fail to deliver, and I was really blown away by the program and concept after seeing it in action.


Thunderdome Thursday was held at SOFWerx (Special Operations Forces) in Ybor City. SOFWerx is network of locations in Tampa, making it easier for technology innovators and SOCOM to come together. The format of the event was somewhat like The Shark Tank, where entrepreneurs had the floor and the mic, and pitched their technology. The theme was the Internet of Things, and I was so impressed by some of the brilliant products/ideas that are coming out of our city. Afterwards I had the chance to network, shake some hands, reunite with some old DoD friends, and meet some fellow entrepreneurs. I left there with so much excitement for where our town is headed.


It was a great 8 days. In all honesty, from time-to-time I miss Philadelphia and the Northeast, but there is nowhere else on earth I would rather live than in Tampa. This is my home. My daughter was born here, I will raise my children here, we are growing our business here, and I have a certain love for Tampa that truly motivates me to do my little part, whatever that may be, to elevate this city to its true potential. I am truly fortunate to be surrounded by so many wonderful people that selflessly give to our community. Cheers to the future, thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend!