THAT Experience


Product Management Team


This year, my company gave me the opportunity to attend That Conference and bring along my family!

Most of the Engineering team has gone in years past, and I was very excited to be included in the fun this year. I had never been to the Wisconsin Dells, nor had I ever attended a technical conference…and since I’m not an engineer and can best describe my technical knowledge as “enough to be very dangerous,” I seized the opportunity to attend That Conference.

My 3 ½ year old son, Will, asks me every morning if he can come to work with me. This time, I finally got to say yes. I was really impressed by the way the conference got family members involved and interested in technical subjects. My kids are still a little young for some of it, but I was surprised and excited to discover multiple sessions geared toward pre-school-aged kids. How cool to get them involved so early! They are growing up in a world where everything is connected and software is ubiquitous. They need to get started this young just to be able to keep up!

Below is a picture of one of the family sessions we attended, “Circuits in Play-Doh”.

One of the keynote speeches was about time management and it highlighted how we can so easily get distracted in our world with our ever-present devices and access to so much information. The speaker provided a stat – something like “the amount of information available on the internet grows by 50% each month.” If I got that wrong, I apologize, but 47% of stats are made up anyway.

I know I certainly struggle to keep up. Every day I Google at least one technical acronym or framework or new programming language or company or architecture or sometimes one of each. The way I feel and the speed at which we’re all expected to learn I liken to how fast I was hurled down the water slide at the Kalahari resort during the water park night at the conference. 3-2-1: the floor drops from underneath you and you’re free falling. All of a sudden, the slide catches you and you’re continuing to be hurled through a dark tube with flowing water. You’re questioning where you are and if the ride is over. You soon realize, yes, it’s been over for 5 seconds and all you had to do was sit up. Your nose is filled with water and you have an enormous wedgie. Wow – that was painful, but also exhilarating and fun, so let’s do it again!

I had a great time at That Conference. I felt a sense of community around me – people who are familiar with the struggles of trying to keep up, to continue learning and to solve problems every day. It’s nice to be around a bunch of people who “get it.” These people who go through the same pain but who continue to say “Hey – let’s do that again!”