Behind The Tech Event Marketing Scene With Katie Reese

Episode Summary

This episode of Screaming in the Cloud features Katie Reese, an experienced events producer at Tailscale, who walks us through the ins and outs of event marketing within the tech industry. Katie shares insights on effective swag management and event planning to create memorable experiences that drive product adoption. Additionally, Katie and Corey discuss the challenges and strategies of marketing in a post-pandemic, budget-conscious world and explore how remote-first companies have adapted to these changes.

Episode Video

Episode Show Notes & Transcript

Show Highlights: 

00:00 - Intro
00:19 - Welcome Katie Reese, discussing life in sunny Mexico City and her work at Tailscale
03:03 - How Tailscale's product-led growth feels like magic
05:08 - Success stories from the Tailscale Up conference
06:25 - Event strategies in the post-pandemic, budget-conscious era
09:04 - The benefits of remote-first companies and changes in the event landscape
10:36 - Katie's career journey and the value of networking at events
14:34 - The thoughtful approach to swag and reducing event waste
20:14 - How bad marketing can ruin customer interactions
25:40 - Ensuring swag runs out at the right time at conferences
28:10 - Discussion on ethical event practices and avoiding waste
32:04 - Closing thoughts and where to find Katie online

About Katie:

Katie leads field events at Tailscale and, when she is not traveling, splits her time between small-town Tennessee and Mexico City because it's all about balance.

Links referenced: 

*Katie's LinkedIn:
*Katie’s Twitter:

*Panoptica Academy:


Katie Reese: I also think it's fine to like run out of swag. I feel pleased when we run out of swag on day two of a conference and the people that come after that on day three, it's like, Hey, sorry, like next conference or, you know, if they're super fan, like I'll take their email and I'll send them a link to order their own t shirt.

Corey: Welcome to Screaming in the Cloud. I'm Corey Quinn. And my guest today joins us from a cloud. Company whose product I use constantly, all day, every day. And there are very few things I can say that about. Katie Reese does field events over at Tailscale. Katie, how are you?

Katie Reese: Hello, Corey. I'm doing very well right now.

I'm presently in sunny Mexico city. It is very hot here. And my apartment has no AC, so we're living.

Corey: Yeah, the CNCFS do a little bit better at passing the hat. They're good at it already, but they don't have rent the Eiffel Tower for corporate event money. But I'm sure it's in the cards down the road. This episode's been sponsored by our friends at Panoptica, part of Cisco.

This is one of those real rarities where it's a security product that you can get started with for free, but also scale to enterprise grade. Take a look. In fact, if you sign up for an enterprise account, they'll even throw you one of the limited, heavily discounted AWS Skill Builder licenses they got, because believe it or not, unlike so many companies out there, they do understand AWS.

To learn more, please visit panoptica. app slash last week in AWS. That's panoptica. app slash last week in AWS. Tailscale is one of those fun products that is really one of the best examples of product led growth and bottom up adoption that I've ever seen. Because you get someone using it, which might take a little bit of work to convince them, because once you use it and understand how awesome it is, you sound like a lunatic evangelizing the thing.

But I've accepted my lot in life. And once they do, it just works, and it's awesome. Uh, your CEO Avery said on the show at one point, it's, it makes the internet work the way that we all thought it did before we knew better. And that's such a great way of framing it. People get exposed to it, they like it, and then they start applying it in new and exciting ways, and as they implemented it where they work, they get, their usage gets larger, they bring teams into it, and it catches on.

I'm in the process of doing that here. It's, it's one of those products that really sells itself, and I'm always envious of people in marketing for things like that, whereas what I do requires, I fix AWS bills and do contract negotiation for it, which means I need to find very specific people at very specific companies at very specific times, and most specific times.

People that I talk to and perform on stage in front of have no real context into what the current state of their AWS contract is at any given point in time. It's like, wow, if I could just have something that was more mass market for my developer audience, that would work super well. So you're living the dream.

Katie Reese: I will say though, Corey, you've definitely found a way to make it look easy and make it look like you. Well, maybe not necessarily easy, but make it look like it comes more naturally than you explained it.

Corey: It does, if I'm being honest, just because I lean into the things I enjoy and I'm good at. It's like, so why do we decide to give more conference talks than do long form videos?

Uh, because I like one of those things and hate the other. That, that's why.

Katie Reese: Great, simple answer. But about the, the comments you made about Tailscale, you literally sound like a lot of people that come up to our booths at these conferences, especially the word magic and things like that. I know that we have that included in some of our marketing materials, but like you said, it's real.

That's what we hear people say. Those are the kind of conversations I actually love when they're, when the booth is crazy and there's not enough Tailscalers available to have the technical conversations that need to happen. So. If there are two people that don't know one another that have come to the booth and I know one of them knows about Tailscale, I'll be like, Hey, I'll make an introduction and be like, Can you tell this person what you just claimed to me about Tailscale?

And then it's kind of fun. You have two users like getting excited about Tailscale. And I can just walk away from that conversation and let it speak for itself, you know?

Corey: Introduce people, get out of their way. That's half my job these days, it seems like. Although usually both those people introducing to each other who didn't know the other existed, both work at AWS, but that's neither here nor there.

One thing that I enjoyed, uh, we talk about events, for example, last year's conference, Tailscale Up, was an awful lot of fun. I got to give a talk there, but what I did that was a bit Amusing for me is because you can misuse almost anything as a database. That, that's what I do professionally. But I gave the whole presentation, slides, and the rest, and then at the end of it, the reveal was, oh yeah, and I did this whole thing running in JavaScript across the tailnet, exposed via a Tailscale funnel.

It's, yeah, you can use it as Excel easily enough. Here's how you use it as PowerPoint instead. And that, that was fun. I enjoyed the ability to play that game. It only really works once as a, as a gimmick. But it was, it was neat seeing various people's different use cases.

Katie Reese: Oh, yeah. I, I, Tailscale Up is something I feel really proud of in my career.

It was a little sentimental to me because the first event I worked on at HashiCorp was in that venue at Dogpatch Studios. So it's cool to come back and be able to bring Tailscale's brand to life in that space. And your talk was definitely fun. It was a crowd. I think that was a very, that was a very lively crowd.

And the content plus the fact that you were in a suit, I think also made for a lively crowd.

Corey: Well, wearing a suit is my primary skill. The thing that I've found is that You have to get people's attention before you can teach them things. My approach has always been humor, uh, because that is my personality.

And other people's material fits about as well as other people's shoes, so there are a lot of paths to get there. That's just the one that I've found works for me and keeps me engaged, which is kind of important. I am, I am curious to see what you're seeing. As far as the current state of field events, because the entire event space had some challenges when, you know, the deadly plague or the land wound up afflicting us for a few years.

And it seems like things are different now, both post pandemic as well as the fact that money isn't free anymore. So people are having to be a little bit more ROI focused, pay attention to what things cost again, which is a healthy thing. But I'm curious to see how you're finding that impacting the event world.

Katie Reese: To be fair, the caveat on what I'm about to share is that I formally entered a field marketing position post COVID, although I was involved in events from like more of a community dev role perspective prior to COVID. But I think this probably is applicable perhaps to both in my experience. But, you know, in my experience and that of just networking with Whomever the me is at the other booth across the expo hall show floor, whomever I speak with at these conferences, definitely people are trying, like you mentioned the ROI, people are taking more educated bets, right?

Whereas before I think people were down to kind of just show up at a wide array of conferences where their users were or where they even thought that their users might be or potential for new users. But now, yeah, I think it's definitely more like data driven. And yeah, more educated guesses on where you should go.

And then I think as well with what I'm trying to do at Tailscale as well is figure out which conferences like we have, we can have a really strong presence at and then explore perhaps expanding our presence at those conferences and expanding our efforts at that one conference. But that's not to say I still feel like in my position at Tailscale, I do want to work with the DevOps days, the Like GopherCon, those kind of smaller conferences, or not smaller, those more community conferences as well.

So trying to find the right balance there. But it's definitely, it's more like resource constrained. But I think with being resource constrained, it's just an opportunity to be more creative.

Corey: I've definitely found that there's almost a dichotomy where you have the giant events. The KubeCon is one example, reInvent is another.

As we record this, I'm getting ready to leave next Monday for Google Next in Las Vegas for a few days. There's a lot of different event style things that happen. The problem that I keep seeing now is the other piece of it is, oh, it's just a meetup, which is a few people gathering in a room to talk about a thing.

Here in San Francisco, that used to be a massive culture of that, and it seems to have Drifted away a little bit compared to the way it once was, where you could, five, six nights a week, you could go to a meetup and never have to feed yourself. Now, it seems that with people consolidating office space and focusing on different areas, either they're not doing those meetups the way they used to, or I'm just not hanging out in the right crowds.

I am seeing it start to have an uptick in the AI space, but That's a different kettle of nonsense.

Katie Reese: Although I am curious about that kettle of nonsense because I do think with Taleskill, I want to have a presence. If there are meetups that are happening and that our users are attending, you know, we can support with even the low lift kind of things like doing catering at someone else's office or whatever would be helpful.

But maybe that's a conversation for another time.

Corey: Oh, yeah. Does Taleskill even have an office in San Francisco?

Katie Reese: No, Taleskill does not have an office anywhere, which I love.

Corey: Yeah, it's It feels like there are a few ways to go. I've, I don't mind working in an office. I know I'm a little strange like that. Uh, I don't mind full remote.

I do mind when companies do an RTO mandate that's badly handled and violates commitments they've made to their staff previously at other times, but that's more of a bait and switch problem than it is a working in the office story. What I've found never worked for me was when you have most people in an office, but a few exception cases who are not there.

It feels like you wind up with a striated environment of, well, you have the second class citizen folks who wind up not getting nearly as much of a vote or as much influence because they're just organically not there as conversations around the whiteboard arise.

Katie Reese: Yeah, at Tailscale, I mean, we are a remote first team or company, I should say, but there certainly are meetups and there are little hot pockets across the world.

Like San Francisco is one of them, for example, that they have meetups and co work. And then there's also certain programs at TaleScale that encourage you to, um, go and meet up with folks. We have team off site, company off site, things like that. And then I like to interject myself there as well and say, you know, staffing an event is a way to, you know, spend time with other TaleScalers.

Because there's usually a fun dinner after the show floor, things like that. But yeah, it's always, I definitely think at a remote company, it does feel like a privilege when you get to have time with, uh, you get to have in person time with your teammates. Thanks for having me.

Corey: Yeah, I am curious about your trajectory, and how you wound up doing what you're doing.

You're actually one of the reference cases I use from time to time when I talk to people about the value of attending events in person. We met in person at Monktoberfest, uh, the excellent Red Monk conference in the saddest state in the country, Maine. Having grown up there, I have bitterness. But it was fantastic and you were there and people asked, Oh, so what are you doing?

Well, I'm currently between roles trying to figure out what's next. And someone from Talescale popped up with, Have you considered Talescale? And here we are. It's, it's the conversations over Uh, just over drinks or dinner. It's not the way that school has always taught us that it works. It isn't, you didn't show up with your resume printed on fancy expensive paper and wearing a suit and with a firm handshake and looking everyone in the eye.

It was just someone in the space just figuring out what's next. Someone else had a problem and oh, you folks should talk. It's the perfect example of the melting pot approach of getting off your beaten path and common track that conferences tend to add to. Just end to bring to the table. It's one of my favorite parts about going.

I prefer hallway track to actual track talks.

Katie Reese: Yeah, the, the story that comes to mind, I'll quickly share. It's for all three, like companies I've worked with. I got those jobs by like literally typing a job description for it and be like, Hey, based on our conversation, this looks like this is what I would need to come in and do.

I know legally you have to post something online. Here's what I would recommend posting online, even though you're going to hire me for the job.

Corey: I've been saying for years to folks when they ask me for these things, so I'm trying to avoid doing it now because I'm 20 years into my career and it sounds like boomer advice.

But the best, the best way I've found to wind up getting, uh, getting roles is to talk to people directly who are doing these things. Um, sending, uh, your, sending your resume in to websites based upon what's posted is often a waste of time. Occasionally there's examples like what you just described. You have to post something, but you, they already know who they're hiring.

You The applicant tracking systems that look for the right keywords and automatically reject anyone that doesn't match, even when that makes no sense. And, personally, my resume is not the strongest aspect of what I bring to the table. I'm bad at writing those things. It's always been a formality. Finding someone, finding a company that you admire and want to work with.

Know how to solve a problem that they're experiencing and then having the job be created to fit you Is really what I found that that has worked well for me historically, but I'm still a bad employee So I finally gave up and started my own

Katie Reese: I wouldn't consider myself a bad employee in case anyone's listening to this But you know, I do I totally agree with uh, for example at Montoberfest what you referenced Maya and I just briefly spoke at that event Go And then at the, you know, at the end of the event, there was the job board or something, right, that I had missed.

I didn't even, like, see it. Right when the event was wrapping up, just put my name and, like, what I, like, event, what I want to do, and my phone number on a sticky note. And then, like, an hour later, Maya came and found me, and she was, like, waving the Post it note, and she was, like, here, like, let's chat, let's chat.

And then, you know, within, like, a month, I was starting at TaleScale, and it's been, it's been great.

Corey: The job boards at events are fascinating. I remember during the boom times, the job boards, for those who haven't been, are generally divided into who's hiring and who's looking to be hired. And the who's hiring was completely full, and the who's looking to be hired, the only thing someone had written there was, Thanks Obama, which I thought was hilarious.

It's the Because at that point, it was very much a job candidate's market. Now, it seems a lot more evenly balanced where folks, at least the ones I've seen, where folks are actively hiring for specific things and people are on the market looking. It feels like a bit of a healthier dynamic. Although, looking for a job is never fun.

It's never easy. It's a colossal pain. I don't want to minimize anyone's struggles with trying to find work. I get it. I've been in your shoes.

Katie Reese: Yeah, I think when the late when I was impacted by layoffs, I just I took it as an opportunity a to enjoy some time with my family, which is certainly like a privilege that I was able to do.

And then B was just kind of an opportunity to reach out to literally any person I had ever met through my career or my life otherwise. And you know, even aside from landing, you know, a consulting gig or landing Tailscale or whatever, I have benefited from that. It is definitely friendships and professional network, professional connections are like a garden, right?

It was an opportunity to kind of grow that garden and tend, tend to the garden, if you will, with my metaphor.

Corey: There's a lot of neat approaches you can take to things like that, where, where you, you focus on things, especially at events, that aren't necessarily the actual reason people go to events. And I hope I'm not making anyone, uh, have challenges when they start trying to convince their boss to sponsor them going to an event.

But it's, it's not just the find new work things, it's My first conference back in 2009 or so, uh, was Southern California Area Linux Expo, and I wound up talking to someone randomly. And they mentioned, oh, here's how you go and solve that LDAP problem you're working on, because I just did it myself. And That blew four months of work of me spinning my wheels just completely off the table in a couple minutes.

It's the, like, it is talking to people who are not at your company about things that we all work on. At least in my case, if it unblocks me, it gets my creativity going in different ways. Like, one of the ways that I will is if I just sit here in my home office 40 hours a week and stare at the wall. I need to be out dealing with humans.

Katie Reese: I totally feel that. And that's something I feel is a privilege as a field event marketer, is being able to go to these trade shows and these conferences where there's certain overlap, right? Specifically with my network that I have in DevRel and my previous colleagues at HashiCorp and whomever, it's such a privilege and a blessing to be able to overlap with them on pretty regular cadence and be able to kind of interact with them.

Pick up where we left off and talk about, you know, unique problems that we're dealing with and consult one another. Yeah, I'm incredibly, incredibly grateful for that in person kind of think tank time, you know.

Corey: Few things are better for your career and your company than achieving more expertise in the cloud.

Security improves, compensation goes up, employee retention skyrockets. Panoptica, a cloud security platform from Cisco, has created an academy of free courses just for you. Head on over to academy. panoptica. app to get started. How did you get into your role? Uh, you've, you've done DevRel work, you've done a lot of community work as well.

And one thing that I find fascinating is that unlike most folks in the DevRel sphere, you don't have the aversion to the word marketing, which I've always found a little off putting when people do that. Oh, you work in marketing, like you're somehow a lesser person. It's, Yeah, turns out that if you don't tell people what you've built, no one's going to use it.

So I'm curious as to what your path was, because events is also a highly specific sub niche in the marketing world. What's your story? How'd you get there?

Katie Reese: Yeah, so I have, uh, I think events. I have skills that I've grown as a community builder even before my professional career. Like, Whether it was rallying my friends in high school or college, you know, those kinds of things.

I think that those skills have just compounded and grown on top of one another. And then what really propelled my learning was during COVID, like James Governor and I, you know, hosted the fly last for, gosh, I think over two years, which is wild to say that out loud. That's the most like consistent thing I've ever done once a week for years, you know, and I learned so much, right.

Cause we would bring people, different people on every week and. You know, he would interview them and I would just kind of be there like listening. I learned an incredibly, incredible, incredible amount there. And then I think at Tailscale, you know, I joined Tailscale and was just kind of doing things that cropped up, right.

It was pretty reactive work. Like when we'd get reach out sponsoring an event or reach out. Engaging with whatever dev rel group or whomever kind of evaluating those and acting on them. And then. Marketing at Talescale, the team started scaling and started becoming, you know, a very structured team at Talescale, and they wanted to hire a field event marketer.

And I, I knew I wanted to do that at Talescale because, you know, like you mentioned, the kind of like marketing blick, I don't feel that way at Talescale. I feel like we have a really authentic team. We have authentic messaging. Uh, we have really good leadership. on the marketing side. And then I also was able to work with, I am still working with a consultant named Jessica Lisquadro, who is fabulous.

I love working with her. You know, I've gotten to learn a lot. I feel like I'm a new, We Axo's chatting with her yesterday that I just, I'm a new person right now in terms of the way I speak about what I do and how I'm able to like communicate the value of what I do to the business. It's incredible. I can't believe I've been in marketing for less than a year.

Corey: But have you then is the real question on that because it's like it took me a while to realize that I've been doing marketing for probably longer than I haven't been. It's weird to think of what I do as marketing. I always viewed it as more performance art where I embarrass myself in public, but same type of thing.

It tells a story. It gets people's attention and ideally, if you're lucky, you get to maybe teach them something along the way or get them to think about something that they hadn't in previous ways. I am a firm believer in that DevRel is marketing and I think that when people have a aversion to like, oh, marketing as if it's disgusting, it's like they're not, they're fundamentally unserious about the nature of their own profession.

Katie Reese: Yeah, that's fair. I also think, you know, who knows who's gotten burned by a marketing, you know, faux pas in the past, but yeah.

Corey: Oh, we've all seen bad marketing and no one likes it. It's uh, like, There was a line I heard once that stuck with me, that if you spoke to people the way that marketing speaks to people, you'd get punched in the face midway through every conversation you ever had.

And yeah, it's this rude, paternalistic, condescending, we are smart and amazing and you don't know how to do some pretty basic things that we find easy. No, that's bad marketing.

Katie Reese: I'm going to read every marketing email I get of my inbox through this lens from now on. It's probably going to make me angry.

Corey: The one that drives me nuts is apparently people like novelty and they appreciate gimmicks. So someone once sent out like an email, uh, marketing copy that was, uh, Great to talk to you on Lessons in the Simulation and We're All Robots. And it was funny and witty the first time I saw it. Now it feels like it's in the email spammers 101 template guide.

Because I get so much nonsense of that each and every week. It's just Great. Even if you have something interesting to say, you've already lost me by, by the trite, repetitive thing.

Katie Reese: I was going to say, even the one on one outreach, while I know the intention is good because it's, it's one on one, but just when I see like a text wall, I'm just like, dude, I'm not reading that.

Like, bye. Like, send me one sentence of exactly what you want to talk to me about and I'll get back to you.

Corey: Like, all of my, I take a similar approach in all my conference talks where I love the cold open because most people are, who are watching a talk, have a About 30 seconds or so while they figure out, am I going to pay attention to this or am I going to stare at my phone?

And a lot of folks will say, this talk is titled whatever. I'm whatever my name is. I work at wherever. And that stuff's important. Don't get me wrong, but I do it five minutes in because I start with, uh, with telling a story immediately and grab people's attention. Because if you, you have a very limited window to get them to want to learn more.

So that's the approach that I've taken. And, and I think it's so many. Uh, marketing examples of marketing sites and cold emails just tend to miss all of that. It's, I don't care about you when you show up in my inbox. I, I care about my problems. Are you offering to solve something that I really have? And a couple of times here, we have, We have done business with companies that did cold outreach.

It can be done. It just has to be done well, and it has to be relevant, and no, you can't just throw this to an AI system and let it send things out unsupervised, or you wind up looking out of your mind nuts when it's under your name. And people make fun of you on the internet for it, as they should. Like, you didn't even care enough to write it, why should I care enough to read it?

Katie Reese: Fair. Yeah, totally. I, I, I boost, like, you know, scanning badges, scanning badges, scanning badges. People are like, oh, like, you're going to send me these annoying emails. And I like that I can confidently say, no, we will not. I mean, you certainly will get an email, but I hope that it will not provoke feelings of annoyance.

And if it does, let me know.

Corey: I'm curious to get your take on swag, because that is something that has been challenging me my entire career. And I only have two real rules for swag of when I'm considering getting something, but they're hard to meet. One of them is, you have to like it even if it has someone else's logo on it.

Because everyone who runs a company or works in marketing loves their own logo. Fine. Great. If it's a different company, would it still be useful? And two, after the third time I get one of these things at the same conference, Is it still useful to me in some way? Because a lot of times people be like, Oh, here's a, here's a battery pack, a battery, a phone charger with our logo on it, which I find terrifying.

Yeah, take this thing that was the lowest bidder we could find that would accept, acceptably print our logo onto something and then plug it into your 1, 500 supercomputer that runs your life. Oh, and the failure mode of this is a small to mid sized fire. Good luck. I can't. Like that just seems like the holy trinity of do not use this product.

I already have all the water bottles I can ever use. I have one that I like. I bring it with me. I don't need a different crappier one because it has some company's logo on it. What swag have you found that works?

Katie Reese: Uh, you know, at Talescale, we have, we have delicious t shirts. Like they feel like butter.

They are very like thin and just light. We have t shirts. That's all at events. I mean, we have stickers as well and we do a raffle. So one person gets to take home whatever the raffle is, but you know, honestly, my thoughts on swag is like, I, I like it to be a little more poignant, right? Like I, I think things for swag make more sense when it's a very targeted, like small group, say private dinner or executive meetings or a meetup or something.

And you're able to kind of look at that, like collection of people and take a pretty educated guess about something that they might find to be valuable, right? And even if it doesn't have our Tailscale logo on it, I'm a firm believer that they're going to remember where they got it, right? Like, for example, at a conference coming up, like we're doing a post event sweep with a one in five chance of winning.

And we're doing Flipper Zeros. So I think it's like very niche for that, for that audience, right? But it's not going to have our logo on it. Uh, but it's something they're going to think of tails tail if they get one. I also think it's fine to like run out of swag. I feel pleased when we run out of swag on day two of a conference and the people that come after that on day three, it's like, Hey, sorry, like, next conference, or, you know, if they're a superfan, like, I'll take their email and I'll send them a link to order their own t shirt.

Corey: But do the shirts run out evenly, or is it because someone didn't accurately predict the, uh, the horizontal scalability of their attendee base?

Katie Reese: Yeah, well, I'm the person that picked those, and I think I've gotten pretty good at it. It's interesting, though, like, You know, the European demographic versus the American demographic is going to be different.

And if there's some leftovers, that's fine. Like we always do find a way. We never have leftover t shirts after an event. But yeah, very good point. But it is like a little mental formula that you have to deploy. But I, I'm not a bit, I'm not like Totskies, for example, or like little like, I don't know what else to call them, like little, little pieces of things that people don't have value from, like if you see like the, the What do you call it?

The muscle grabber or whatever, any, anything that's just going to wind up getting left in your hotel room when you're packing and you know you need to meet like a kilo allowance and you're just going to leave that behind, it's going to get thrown away. I really don't want any brands that I'm working with to be associated with.

What ends up becoming garbage, right? Like I think events generate a lot of waste and I really don't want like swag is a controllable factor, right? You're you're the booth fabrication for that one event, maybe a less controllable fact, and, you know, unfortunately maybe kind of the state of the state right now, but.

Flag doesn't have to be, right? Like, try to provide value, try to mock one of these.

Corey: How many booths at reInvent raffle off or give away the big TV at the end of the event? You know exactly what happened. They bought the thing just there. It was the cheapest thing they found at the local Best Buy, put it up there to do their demos, and at least they're doing that the ethical thing and giving and giving it off to someone who might use it as opposed to doing the return thing.

Oh, it didn't work for me. Like, I've seen some people play those ethics games. But yeah, it's incredibly high consumption.

Katie Reese: At a rent?

Corey: Yeah, oh yeah, they raffle. Yeah, I've seen people go and try and return them and like, okay, you're telling me that it's worth someone's time at your company to go and lie to a retail worker to go and return a TV.

Like, what does that say about your ethics as a company on some level?

Katie Reese: Totally, that gives me so much cringe hearing that. I mean, I'm sure things like that happen that I just I'm not aware of.

Corey: I mean, I get it. I wound up buying a TV myself when I was a traveling consultant years ago. Uh, I was doing a four month project and the TV in the hotel room was locked to only, uh, their things.

And I brought my Xbox with me. Alright, so I bought a TV for 300 bucks and then at the end of the engagement I wound up bringing it home for about another 300 bucks and shipping the thing because those things are really expensive to move around. But I still have the TV in the spare room.

Katie Reese: Yeah, and hopefully it gets used, right?

Corey: Oh yeah, constantly.

Katie Reese: So we have, there are some pretty standard items that we have at every booth. So I have, Uh what I call an event in a box, uh, it is a the largest size pelican case that you can buy Uh, it's a checked bag for me and I just try to maintain everything I you know Keep track of inventory in there And sometimes if someone else from Tailscale is representing us at an event that i'm unable to go to I do end up Mailing it to them and they mail it back, but I I feel better about that Rather than just like ordering net new things for every event.

But then I know that there are field marketers out there that I've spoken with that, you know, every event represents like a repeated Amazon order that they just kind of have queued up and they know these are things that they need at the event, and then they leave there at the end and you see it when you walk around exhibition halls, when they're closing down, you see those things that get left behind.

And you can imagine that that gets left behind at every event. It's a lot of waste, and so I'm trying to do things a little differently, trying to just anticipate and plan a little more in advance that, you know, make space in my schedule to go and mail things or travel with the event inbox so I can take it with me to the conference that's in two weeks, or whatever it is.

But I think with like a little bit of planning and being intentional about it, I think we can all reduce our waste at these events, because it is a little disheartening sometimes to see things like this.

Corey: It's, it's a weird approach too. I like the idea of also de raffling things off. One of the more effective things I've ever seen.

Veeam, the backup company, would have, uh, a line of wrapping around the show floor and I, many, many, many years ago, I worked in IT support. And I can promise you there's not a user on the planet that cares that much about backups. They only care about it after they really needed to have cared a little bit more about backups than they did

But what is going on? They were raffling off a chance, they were raffling off a drone. So it was great. Uh, give it, scan your badge, here's a key, here's the thing to do it, and Later, I did a little research on what that would actually cost, so it's not prohibitive, but it's great. It's, it's a fun thing that's eye opening.

They, they gave a bunch of them away, and it definitely got a whole lot of badges scanned. Uh, there is the question of, are these, like, are these people who, are these useful contacts, or are they garbage? And at most tech conferences, this is the reason they have, they make sure people are registered to enter the show floor.

They don't want a whole bunch of Of nonsense winding up in people's lead databases. It's worked. I've never been good at doing the whole booth thing. That's not how I operate. I am useless at working a booth. I can be the spectacle that draws people in at a booth. That's fine. Like, I want to wind up getting a card table at reInvent next to their Ask an Expert booth called Ask a Different Expert and see what we can wind up doing with horrible architectural anti patterns.

But for some reason, they keep failing to invite me.

Katie Reese: Oh, Cory, I've seen you though walking around reInvent before and you have your Safari garb on and

Corey: Oh, the nature walk. Yes.

Katie Reese: I, that gave me such a laugh. I remember I was at the HashiCorp booth at the time and you walked past. I was like, oh my god, there's Cory.

That was fun. Yeah, super fun. Are you going to do that again this year? Can I, can I look forward to seeing you?

Corey: I might. In fact, I, thanks for saying that. I should probably bring the Safari get up on, uh, with me for the Google Next stuff. Yeah.

Katie Reese: Okay. I look for, I hope, let me know. I hope you do.

Corey: Yeah. Worst case, we all learn something.

I really want to thank you for taking the time to speak with me. If people want to learn more, where's the best place for them to find you?

Katie Reese: Oh gosh, that's such a hard question these days. I'm not on Twitter anymore. Uh, likely LinkedIn, I guess. I never, I never thought I would be like pushing my LinkedIn profile, but it is like an inbox, at least that I, I at least keep maintained.

Whereas Twitter, I have, you know, unfortunately I don't really get on it much anymore.

Corey: Excellent. And we'll, of course, put a link to that in the show notes. Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me. I appreciate it.

Katie Reese: Thank you, Corey. Always a pleasure.

Corey: Katie Reese, Field Defense at Tailscale. I'm Cloud Economist Corey Quinn, and this is Screaming in the Cloud.

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