Cisco Live 2013 – Are You a Keynote Virgin?

Cisco Live 2013

It’s ok, you can be honest with me. Do you attend the Keynote sessions at Cisco Live?

Not everybody loves the Keynote sessions, but since the schedule is set up so that the three main Keynotes are the only activity going on at that time, it’s usually worth attending – they’re usually packed with good information, and I find it much more convincing to be spoken to directly rather than read a press release about what’s going on.

Cisco Live 2013 in Orlando is following a similar pattern to previous years, and having three main keynotes:

Tuesday June 25, 2013: Welcome and Keynote Address

For the last few years, the Opening Keynote has been given by John Chambers, Cisco’s silver-tongued CEO and Chairman of the Board.
John ChambersThis year Cisco is shaking things up and the platform will also be shared with Cisco’s Chief Technology and Strategy Oficer (CTO), Padmasree Warrior.

Padmasree Warrior

I find that interesting; Padmasree Warrior has presented the Wednesday Technology Keynote for at least the last three years, and yet here she is sharing the stage with John Chambers on Tuesday. Should we be reading something into this? Maybe, but I’ll come back to my salacious speculation in just a moment.

Either way, as I’ve said before, I find John Chambers to be wholly engaging, and absolutely worth the time. You’ll also recall that I don’t enjoy Padmasree quite so much, but that doesn’t stop me attending.

Padmasree Warrior

In summary: Don’t miss this one.

Wednesday June 26, 2013: Technology Keynote Address

So with Padmasree Warrior speaking with John Chambers on Tuesday, her usual Wednesday slot goes to… Rob Lloyd, Cisco’s President of Development and Sales.

Rob LloydAnd this is where we enter the realm of pure, unadulterated speculation. If you don’t recognize Rob Lloyd’s name, you’re probably in good company – I’m guessing many people first heard his name mentioned late last year when he was promoted from his role as Cisco’s Executive VP, Worldwide Operations. He is one of ten people supposedly on a succession list to take over from John Chambers when he steps down some time between 2014-2016, and according to AllThingsD:

Chambers named three execs on a list of as many as 10 possible successors: Robert Lloyd, the 56-year-old executive vice president of worldwide operations; Chuck Robbins, senior vice president of the Americas; and Edzard Overbeek, senior vice president of global services.

Is this a sign, or coincidence? I have no idea, but it would have been rude of me not to make the connection that a major keynote has been given to somebody flagged up as a succession candidate for John Chambers. Or maybe I’m missing the boat, and actually Warrior is the front runner, hence wanting to be closely associated with Chambers in their shared keynote. It sounds more likely to me that Lloyd is the one being groomed though. What do you think – am I wide of the mark here? Let me know in the comments.

So endeth the gossip.

In summary: If you want to hear somebody who may be the CEO one day, it’s worth attending. And in any case, hearing the latest technology news can’t be all bad, so again, I’d say you should attend.

Thursday June 27, 2013: Celebrity Closing Keynote Address

Ok but seriously people, unless you deeply dislike the speaker, this last session is always a hoot. The Closing Keynote tends to fun from a “see a celebrity up close and personal” sense, and usually also because they tend to be amazingly interesting. I remember seeing Actor/Writer/Columnist Ben Stein speak at Cisco Live 2008 which was also in Orlando (yes, he of “Bueller… Bueller…” fame). It was great – you’d think, especially with his line in financial advice, that it might have been boring, but it was anything but.

Cutting to the chase, this year’s closing keynote speaker is none other than Sir Richard Branson.

Richard Branson

For clarity, Mr Branson is not – as sometimes alleged – the original owner of a pickle company:

Branston Pickle

He is, however, a world renowned crazy guy with a flair for business. Branson started at age 20 by founding Virgin as a mail order retailer, then expanded to record shops, a recording studio and a record label – and it was he who signed Mike Oldfield (of Tubular Bells fame) to the Virgin Records label in 1973, after other labels had turned Oldfield down. Branson’s entrepreneurial spirit stayed strong over the years, and he continued to develop businesses in a wide range of areas, including:

Virgin Trains

Virgin AtlanticVirgin MobileVirgin MediaVirgin HealthVirgin Galactic

Given that Virgin Galactic is all about offering the public access to suborbital spaceflights, maybe owning a pickle company isn’t such an unlikely possibility after all. Not that Branson gets it right all the time, mind you – like many risk takers, he has had his fair share of failures. Still, you have to give it to him for getting out there and trying (and in some cases, knowing when to sell up and get out!).

Outside the business world, Sir Branson’s energies seem similarly endless, with multiple attempts at breaking world records in the guise of being an “adventurer” – trying for the fastest Atlanta Ocean crossing, ballooning from Japan to arctic Canada, circumnavigating the world in a balloon, crossing from Dover to Calais in an amphibious vehicle, and more – again, a history littered with a mix of successes and failures.

Branson is also known as an author and a humanitarian, with involvement in many initiatives and foundations across the globe. He owns a private island – Necker Island, in the Caribbean – so it seems that his businesses have worked out ok for him on the whole.

I’m fascinated to know what he’ll have to say at Cisco Live, and I can’t help thinking that John Chambers should only hope that the Bearded Wonder doesn’t decide to start manufacturing network and computing equipment any time soon. It nothing else, he’d likely shake up the marketplace.

In summary: Yes, yes, and heck yes. Be there.

The Host With The Most

The Cisco Live 2013 Keynotes would just not be the same without the charming Carlos Dominguez guiding us.

Carlos Dominguez

Cisco’s good-natured Senior VP – the self-title “Tech Nowist” – comes out each year with amusing stories, pictures, video, and a general brand of self-deferential humor that warms up the crowd nicely before he introduces the main speakers. Carlos seems to have pretty wide latitude with what he can share, and his introductions often include up to the minute news and images from the conference (occasionally including pictures that you wish you could unsee). Tom Hollingsworth (@networkingnerd) explains a little more of the backstory to that particular sin against good taste in a blog post, and how it ended up being on the screens at the Wednesday Keynote. And yes, for my part, I sincerely apologize for poking the [email protected] folks and asking if anybody had gotten a “Tramp Stamp” yet… Really sorry.

Carlos is amiable, and part of the reason the Keynotes are successful and enjoyable is the way he leads us in and shows us out. He’s also active on Twitter (@carlosdominguez) and is esteemed enough to have his own subdomain at Cisco.

In summary: Funny guy!

Cisco Live 2013

If you’re read my blog before, you’ll know I like Cisco Live – it’s a firehose of information, and a great opportunity to meet your peers and get new ideas. If you don’t know what Cisco Live 2013 is about, want to know what else goes on beside keynotes, or want to book tickets, follow this link to the website for Cisco Live 2013 in Orlando.

 

Disclaimer: For transparency purposes, I should note for the record that I have NOT been offered or given any kind of incentive like, say, a free Cisco Live 2013 conference pass, to bribe me into saying nice things about the event. I should be so lucky. Cisco did, however, very kindly share information about the keynote speakers, which was jolly nice of them.

2 Comments on Cisco Live 2013 – Are You a Keynote Virgin?

  1. Personally, I find that John Chambers are repetitive. I’ve been as Cisco Keynotes since 2002 and the fundamental topic that he covers in his speech hasn’t changed since 2005. Although there are small changes each year, it’s basically the same structure and emphasising the same topics.

    – productivity

    – new product roadmaps.

    – cisco leadership

    – voice, video & collaboration

    – great people, great customers.

    and that’s it.

    • That southern drawl is hypnotic, mate. You missed his updates on this year’s market adjacencies, by the way 🙂

      Maybe it’s worth it for the demos instead. I happen to enjoy listening to him speak, but I know where you’re coming from.

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