19 Responses

  1. eshanks
    eshanks at |

    I wasn’t aware that you needed to look like a male model to speak at the ChicagoVMUG. Good thing that Eric Shanks guy has some great looks.

  2. nate raper
    nate raper at |

    Mornin’ Chris-

    It sounds as though you have a very active, involved community in Chicago and that you’re very passionate about the VMUG. As I said yesterday in our brief Twitter conversation, passionate leadership = passionate VMUG. Unfortunately, I think that there are too many VMUG leaders that really don’t have the same level of passion – or anything close to it.

    I think that there are a couple of very active VMUG communities and the rest of them – like the one in my city – are relatively mundane and boring and generate little interest. Perhaps this is the time to infuse some life in to those withering communities. I would love to see VMUG as an organization take some of it’s very active, passionate leaders (such as yourself) and have them mentor some of the other leaders. And some of the rejected VMworld talks certainly came from local talent – let’s get them up on stage! But I also don’t think that a B-sides/unconference precludes those presentations from being given at the VMUGs. Many of the rejected talks were submitted by high-profile bloggers on topics of interest, and VMworld may be the only opportunity for many folks to be in the same location as these speakers.

    As one of the leaders of a VMUG, you have close contact with the organization. Get them to encourage their leaders to solicit input and talks from their local community. Infuse some passion. Let’s stoke this fire!


    1. Damian Karlson (@sixfootdad)

      Nate – Is that in the ‘Springs, or the Denver VMUG?

  3. briansuhrain
    briansuhrain at |

    As one of the fellow leaders of the Chicago VMUG I think its up to the community members to help make their local VMUGs better. That is the approach that I took, get involved maybe you can help be a leader or speak at a meeting.

    The fact is if the local leadership is not that passionate about the user group it will wither on the vine. Others can help make a difference.

  4. nateraper
    nateraper at |

    I wholeheartedly agree…but it’s tough to get involved when the VMUG organization refers you to local leadership and then the local leadership doesn’t respond.

  5. NickFrank
    NickFrank at |

    @nateraper, Come visit Chicago! The guys in the Chicago VMUG are awesome.

  6. Rod Gabriel (@ThatFridgeGuy)

    Nate, sorry to hear your local VMUG experience has not been good. I’d like to help you out with that. Where are you located (feel free to email me rodg at wivmug dot org if you want)?

  7. Rod Gabriel (@ThatFridgeGuy)

    As it goes with everything be it management in a company, employees in a company, politicians and VMUG Leaders; there are great ones, good ones, OK ones and bad ones. From what I have seen over the years that quality can often drop off (or improve) due to changes in time they have available to commit to VMUG and that “bad” leaders often can no longer commit the time needed.

    Unfortunately it’s not always easy to find others to help pick up the slack or take over. There are quite a few VMUGs where we are actively looking for leaders or for people to help current leader but have a hard time finding people willing to make the commitment. The Chicago VMUG is a good example of that where a few years ago it went from being a pretty good VMUG and then lost the leader. There was a period where it struggled with finding leadership that could consistently make the time commitment. The last 1-2 years it has greatly improved with Jason, Brian, Chris, etc… and is now a strong, thriving VMUG again.

    A VMUG or any user group needs a number of people willing to participate. If you want to help keep a VMUG strong, revive one that is struggling, start a new one there are plenty of opportunities to do so. In the end, a user group is about the members and is only as good as you the user makes it.

    VMUG Volunteer Opportunities: http://www.vmug.com/p/cm/ld/fid=8

    If you have concerns about current leadership or don’t feel you are getting the response you need from VMUG HQ please feel free to reach out to someone on the VMUG Board of Directors: http://www.vmug.com/p/cm/ld/fid=6

    One more point, member feedback (good or bad) is critical to having a strong user group. That’s why if you want a strong user group you as a member need to do your part and spend a few minutes giving honest feedback on the surveys you get from VMUG HQ. Whether it’s a post meeting survey, a followup to a User Conference, a survey after a VMUG Member Webcast or a survey from VMUG HQ about the overall VMUG program. The VMUG Board, VMUG HQ and the leaders really do spend time going through the results of these surveys.

    Not only are we VMUG Leaders and VMUG Board members, but we are in the end also VMUG Members and we all want a strong, vibrant user group.

    Thanks Chris for the great post and for everyone else for the comments.

  8. Duncan Epping (@DuncanYB)
    Duncan Epping (@DuncanYB) at |

    Great post indeed and I can only say “where is that +1 button when you need it?”

    Funny thing is that above it is mentioned that many high profile bloggers submitted topics of interest. I am hoping that these high profile bloggers will set an example in their community and present locally. Yes it is nice when Mike Laverick flies around the world to present at every VMUG, or Scott Lowe comes around to do his talk or Frank Denneman stops by to discuss SDRS… but in the end a VMUG is a User Group. Sharing user stories, knowledge expertise of environments which might be similar to yours.

    Bring back the UG! Present at your local VMUG!

  9. Mariano Maluf
    Mariano Maluf at |

    Well said Duncan, and great comments everyone!

    This whole thread shows what the true spirit of the VMUG really is, and why we remain so excited to continue growing this community, together.

    Thanks for all you do for VMUG!

  10. Damian Karlson (@sixfootdad)

    Great article, Chris! I live in Austin, and while I appreciate that we *have* a VMUG, there’s definitely room for improvement. I’ve had the opportunity to visit other VMUGs over the course of time, and some are definitely more involved than others. Ours, unfortunately, is more along the lines of vendor presentation -> pizza -> sci-fi or superhero movie -> go home. Admittedly, I need to do more (and will be, travel & VMUG rules permitting, since I work for EMC) with our local VMUG.

    While the UnConference is an idea for getting the rejected papers out into the thought jetstream, VMUGs are absolutely the place to do this sort of thing. Nothing would make me happier than to go to my local VMUG with the expectation that I’d see a presentation in the same class as a VMworld presentation.

    A VMworld UnConference such as the one(s) we’re planning on the #vBrownBag (disclaimer: I a co-host on the podcast) is a way of focusing on those great folks within our community who won’t be presenting at VMworld, while at the same time giving them a hell of a podcast platform with which to promote their idea/paper/experiences/etc. I can honestly and truthfully say that the idea of presenting rejected papers on the #vBrownBag was not out of hurt feelings or sour grapes, but the absolute opposite — doing what we always do — and that is doing our damnedest to help build the VMware community.

    Note: I co-submitted two papers to VMworld, and the #vBrownBag crew (Josh Atwell, Cody Bunch, Alastair Cooke, Nick Marshall, and I) submitted a panel session as well. All three of those didn’t make it. 🙂

  11. Jason Bertini
    Jason Bertini at |

    Great article Chris!

  12. Brent Quick
    Brent Quick at |

    Chris – a very enthusiastic golf clap showing respect for the message and the delivery.

    As a VMUG leader for almost two years, I can tell you about the struggle to provide quality content from meeting to meeting. I can also say that I have not always delivered on that commitment. Either because I took my eye off the target and someone took advantage or because there is not enough time in the day to do everything that needed to be done.

    I have a full time consulting job, a rich family life with special needs, and the normal curves that life seems to always throw. Now fit into that the phone calls to find someone willing to speak “debranded” of their product/company/solution, arranging space/food/calendar/giveaways, checking that the sponsor is not coming in with the marketing/sales deck, finding members to work check-in/setup/clean up, printing registration/giveaway materials, updating multiple sites as content changes, promoting event so that sponsor’s get value as well.

    So I simply say to any member who is unsatisfied, I am sorry that I let you down and I will continue to try harder and if you want to help I would appreciate it.

  13. Liselotte Foverskov (@LFoverskov)

    Hi Chris. Thank you for a great article. I think people are allowed to be dissapointed but it is a good idea to remind people that they have a great influence on VMUG content.
    I saw this and wondered if you mean VMUG in Denmark “I saw mentions of some VMUGs that just have vendor sales pitches and a movie? What the heck is that about?”. We had an event in a movie theater and ended the day with a premiere of “Avengers”?… If so we had a lot of proffesional speakers and decided to treat our members with a movie and networking afterwards.

  14. Rimmergram
    Rimmergram at |

    Great post and one that I concur with from a London VMUG perspective. We have a great committee, a great membership community and superb support from our VMware champion, along with the outstanding back office support of our VMUG HQ team. It’s that combination that creates success. Believe me, if we as a committee weren’t providing the content our members wanted, they would let us know for sure! I hope we continue to deliver on @Duncan’s mantra of keeping the U in the UG 🙂

  15. nateraper
    nateraper at |

    Well I hope that I didn’t come off as ungrateful. I’m very thankful that the local leadership has taken on the task of planning and hosting these meetings…lining up speakers, a venue, sponsors, lunch…I just wish that they would welcome “outside” participation.

    I think the VMUG organization is great and I also recognize that there are a lot of thriving communities out there. The VMware community as a whole is exceptional in its desire and ability to evangelize and share and not take on a holier-than-thou attitude.

    I just don’t think that the local community where I am reflects that commitment and I wish local leadership would open up to “outsiders” offering help. Personally, I’m looking for ways to give back myself and I thought that volunteering to help – even if it’s sitting at the registration desk – would be a start and welcomed by leadership. As I said previously, my offerings of assistance have fallen on deaf ears. So much so that I haven’t attended the last couple of meetings because of indifference.

    I still believe in the VMUG – I think it’s a great organization. I just think that the leadership for my local VMUG needs to recognize that they are overwhelmed or out of fresh ideas (or whatever) and let others participate or help.

    But back to the original spirit of Chris’ post…

    I don’t think that presenting unaccepted VMworld submissions at a B-sides/unconference is exclusive of also presenting them at the local VMUG. And I don’t think that it’s “sour grapes” to look at a side-show during VMworld. Why can’t we have both? There are a lot of qualified speakers for VMworld and a limited number of slots. Why not let those “local” presenters have a larger audience to speak to? Personally, my only chance to see people like Cody Bunch and Chris Wahl speak may be VMworld – I don’t live in their markets. Choice is good. If folks can find a venue to speak and people attend, what’s the harm? Granted, they should also be looking to present their talks at their local VMUG…but I really don’t see the harm in an “unconference” where we can hear people whose blogs we follow speak and have a chance to interact with them.


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