It’s official, sports fans, I’m on sabbatical. Yesterday was an emotional roller coaster as I tried to have short-timer’s disease but was too worried about closing the tech-summit event. Our Wednesday evening activity was to go to the Diamondbacks game where Tallman worked his magic and arranged for 3 suites for a bunch of the group. After that, Ashley had put together a little get- together at a downtown roof-top bar. While I wanted to stay out late and enjoy the company of so many that I’ve worked with over the years, I also knew my 6:45am Thursday event meeting was looming, not to mention that I was scheduled to introduce our Chief Commercial Officer (Steve Felice), who would be giving the closing speech… . I compromised and stayed out ’til 10:30. Thursday morning’s meetings went as planned, I met Preston at the airport at 8:30am, and then hustled back to the hotel. Preston accompanied me to the closing rehearsal at 11am, and sat in the audience as I introduced Steve. After Steve spoke, things got interesting, as the craziness of Kevin Peesker was about to begin.
The SMB team has been around Kevin for years, so they had a pretty good idea of what was about to come, but for the rest of the audience…I’m sure they are still talking about it. Kevin started off with funny, striking facts about Canada and his world-class sales team. He thanked the technical team for the great event and shared some of the facts, including data on all the websites people visited while they should have been doing their labs. All of this was outrageously funny and had everyone roaring…Kevin went even further by matching these websites to the offending reps’ service tag numbers, culminating with Dan having to stand and confess to his Facebook addition. Kevin then enlisted the audience to stand up and stretch to the beat of some dance music. Of course, some of the leaders were tricked into coming on stage to lead the stretching. After a quick video and outfit change for Kevin, he had 5 of the team members challenge the leaders (including me) to a game of family feud. The questions were funny and were part of a survey all the participants had taken earlier in the week.
The hard part for me was coming next. Kevin had spent hours putting together a history of my career and accomplishments at Dell, and also had conducted interviews with team members–all of it really touched me–even while typing this now it’s hard to not get choked up. Of course there was great Peesker humor, too, including a top-10 list. I think my favorite item on the list was that I was going to sell the software that interconnects my 19 years of spreadsheets across my home SAN back to Dell for $1 billion. I was then brought up on stage and presented by Curtis (my backfill) and Kevin a bunch of items to keep me safe on the trail: a bear whistle, environmentally safe toilet paper, etc… I was so emotional that I couldn’t get anything out of my mouth beyond thank you.
I cannot thank Kevin and Ashley enough for their thoughtfulness and hard work in the last couple of days before my big break. It’s great to have such close friends.
Enough of the mush…. After the event we got the hell out of Dodge and headed north to Payson for the “official” start of the sabbatical. We drove through Payson and up to Washington Park, which is the hub of the 106-mile race I’ve signed up for at the end of September. The idea was to stretch the legs at altitude so we can get the red blood cells flowing for the climb coming on Saturday. Preston was concerned at first that he wasn’t up to the climb, but after 20 minutes of his asking me where the steep stuff was (we were on the steep stuff), his concerns seemed to fade. We climbed the 2 miles up to rim road 300 and then went off road in search of a great view of the rim. Off-road to me is usually following a jeep trail, but Preston wanted to go cross country, which resulted in us scaling a canyon. We found the view we were looking for and stopped for a few pictures, but needed to hustle back since the sun was setting. A few pictures are below, but hit the link if you want to see them all. The last one is Preston pretending to eat the salamander he caught.