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author's profile photo Jerry Janda

[Status Update] I never thought I'd see the day...

...where I would watch a stuffed goat "ride" a mechanical bull while a bunch of rowdy SAP TechEd attendees yelled, "Capra!" (Witness for yourself if you don't believe me. )

Many thanks to Former Member for taking Capra on the ride...and for all of his work as a "goatherder." (Skim through his tweets to see all of the adventures he shared with Capra, including a bus ride to Yosemite.) Other goatherders during SAP TechEd included Paul Hardy and Frank Schuler, who also spoke to Brian Ellefritz about "Why SAP Community Matters" as part of SAP TechEd Online. (Check out the replay of their conversation. If you look carefully, you'll see me in the background, struggling to keep a straight face -- after some community members started IMing me jokingly when they noticed me during the live broadcast. Interactive TV indeed.)

One goatherder deserving special recognition is Susan Keohan who, along with Colleen Hebbert, has really brought Capra to life. (If you're on Twitter, do yourself a favor and follow Capra.) On my very first day in Las Vegas, as I was dragging and tired from an early-morning 5-hour flight from Philadelphia, Sue recruited me to help her to do a stop-motion video of Capra. Security guards scratched their heads as Sue and I repositioned furniture, got on the ground, and spent a whole lot of time just to capture this 2-second masterpiece -- knowing full well we could never live up to Christian's brilliant animation. It didn't matter. The end result and the effort were all worth the laughter.

I laughed a lot during the event -- thanks primarily to the company of my colleagues. (I'll never hear the word "cinnamon" again without stifling a giggle.) It was my first SAP TechEd, and it was also my first time meeting most of my SAP Community teammates in person -- such as Jamie Cantrell, Brian Bernard, and Audrey Stevenson (who was also instrumental in bringing Capra to "life"). There were days and nights where I laughed so hard, I felt like I had done an ab workout. (Although given my paunchiness, maybe I'm not the best judge of how an ab workout feels.)

Also there was my boss Gali Kling Schneider and Mynyna Chau, both of whom also added to the hilarious moments. Gali made me part of the SAP Community team about a year ago (a decision I hope she never regrets), and Mynyna did a dynamite job of managing our presence at the event and the activities at our booth.

Oh, and what activities there were. Visitors took selfies and tweeted them with the #SAPTechEd and #SAPCommunity hashtags...dozens of 'em. Continuing the theme that began with the conversation between Brian Ellefritz and Frank, they used a whiteboard to write down why SAP Community matters to them. Some even did video interviews to share their sentiments about the community. Granted, they were earning SAP Community swag, but they took the time to share. If somebody asked me to do something I didn't want to do, a free T-shirt or mug certainly wouldn't change my mind.

It wasn't all laughs, of course. Events can be grueling, and even when the job is fun, work is work. And it wasn't always warm and fuzzy. Jamie held sessions dedicated to topics such as blogging and advancing as an SAP Community member, and Brian Ellefritz joined her for presentations about the path forward for SAP Community -- because, let's face it, the platform still needs a lot of work. We heard about that plenty in meetings with Mentors and from some booth visitors. And, yeah, we know we have our work cut out for us, and we'll continue to share progress and respond to the feedback. I'll try to weather the criticism with as much professionalism and good cheer as I can muster, but I must admit that the online beatings have hardened me a tad...

Despite that, something really struck me at the event. Call it an epiphany. Call it too many end-of-the-day martinis.

OK, sure, the platform needs work, but the platform ain't the community. It makes the community possible, it hurts the community when it's bad, but at the end of the day, the community IS the community. And during SAP TechEd, I didn't see myself just as a member of the SAP Community team. I felt part of the SAP Community, period.

It was because of the good times with my co-workers. It was because of the Mentors, who celebrated their 10-year anniversary. It was because I got to watch a keynote based entirely on a Star Trek theme. It was because of SAP Community contributors who, even though they had never met me, had gotten to know me online and so took the time to talk to me face to face. It was because of people who came to the booth and asked about SAP Community -- because they wanted to join and be a part of it.

And, yeah, it was because of a stuffed goat.

For me, Capra represented an important part of the community that's often described as missing: a community feel. Ignore for a moment the shortcomings of the platform (I know it's hard), and think of the excitement that the goat brought. Here was an icon that long pre-dated me (as Colleen's blog post explains), now made flesh (well...fake fur and stuffing, at least) -- giving the new and the faithful alike something to rally around in a positive way. People wanted pictures with Capra. Wanted to follow Capra's escapades. Wanted to enjoy the Capra experience. (And thanks to Caroleigh Deneen and the Capra caption contest (try saying that three times fast), you didn't need to be at SAP TechEd to get in on the fun.)

In a way, Capra was a reminder of better times. But she is also a reminder that things can get better still.

I believe that. And I'm happy to be part of the herd.

Later this month, I'll be at SAP TechEd Bangalore. I have a feeling Capra might be there too. If you're there, I hope you'll stop by the SAP Community booth and see us both.

We're easy to tell apart.

She's the cute one.

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  • Oct 02, 2017 at 08:17 AM

    This is worthy of a blog

    • Oct 02, 2017 at 07:33 PM

      Agreed. This is a post-event blog, people. This is how to do a wrap up properly. <3

      • Oct 02, 2017 at 07:55 PM

        Well, to be fair, most likely it wouldn't get as many likes and comments if it was posted as a blog. It'd drop very far from the "top 3" blog list on the homepage and who would see it afterwards? Unless your name starts with Bjoern and ends with Goerke it's tough to maintain any readership on SCN these days.

        It was nice meeting you in person, Jerry Janda (I need to mention you because it's a comment on a comment and you won't get notified otherwise)! And you totally rocked that Punk Santa look. :)

        • Oct 02, 2017 at 09:37 PM

          But Jelena Perfiljeva we would also get a status update post telling us there is a blog

          • Oct 03, 2017 at 07:46 PM

            Yep, the current workflow is: blog -> status update in CC to let everyone know about the blog -> status update in LinkedIn and Twitter to let those who left SCN know as well. Content discovery of the XXI century!

        • Oct 05, 2017 at 04:26 PM

          Jelena Perfiljeva Nice meeting you as well...although I can't honestly say I was going for a "Punk Santa" look. I'll take it as a compliment just the same! :D

    • Oct 05, 2017 at 04:24 PM

      Colleen Hebbert I wish someone would write something explaining the difference between a blog and a status update ;-)

      • Oct 05, 2017 at 07:22 PM

        Well, status update is for something like "I saw a panda and he's awesome!". Now I totally expect to see a cute panda toy at the next TechEd! ;)

  • Oct 02, 2017 at 10:11 AM

    (Matthias Steiner, moi, CAPRA, Gali Kling Schneider and Durairaj Athavan Raja)

    Wow, Jerry. For someone who spent way too much time moving a little stuffed goat along a convention center floor, you certainly seemed to enjoy yourself.

    Thank you for the all the feels in this status update. I hope that some of the good feelings continue to permeate the online community.

    It was great to meet you and Mynyna IRL. I've already had the pleasure of meeting Audrey, Gali, Brian, and Jamie before (and missing Caroleigh).

    Until we bleat again!

  • Oct 02, 2017 at 02:46 PM

    Looks like you had a great time in Vegas :) I wish I was there with you to shake hands and say hello.
    I have spent last week checking updates on Twitter and following Capra's adventures (and I don't even have Twitter account!).

    • Oct 02, 2017 at 10:23 PM

      Well, then, Bartosz, what did you think of our little goat's antics? There were some very fine stop-motion videos put together too :-)

      Thanks to the #goatherders Former Member Paul Hardy and Frank Schuler for keeping her safe and letting her have fun!

      How can we keep Capra's fun spirit alive and well in the Community for people who are not able to attend SAPTechEd or are not on Twitter? (Yes, that's a real question!)

      • Oct 03, 2017 at 09:33 AM

        I watched all of the stop-motion videos, some even more than once. It was fun to see all photos and updates and have to admit that I seriously consider to finally open the Twitter account (definitely Capra will be the first goat that I follow).

        I think that Twitter is an excellent place for Capra and even I'm more a Facebook fan it would be way more difficult to see all the updates. But it is important to remember that the SAP Community is Capra's true home :)

        • Oct 05, 2017 at 09:25 PM

          Former Member (who's retired now so she may not get this @mention) shared some really fun photos of Capra on FB during SAP TechEd Las Vegas. See if you can find her on FB and check those out!

      • Oct 03, 2017 at 07:12 PM

        I'd suggest for Capra to get an SCN account but that might qualify as animal cruelty, I'm afraid...

        • Oct 03, 2017 at 08:30 PM

          Well, she loves the community, but it's against the rules for a goat to get an account. So we'll just have to imagine.

          img-3584-3.jpg (298.2 kB)
          • Oct 04, 2017 at 07:12 AM

            Why, is there no G-User-ID?

          • Oct 05, 2017 at 02:34 PM

            I read the picture as "Let SAP take you to the goat." :D

          • Oct 05, 2017 at 08:18 PM

            Calling Moya Watson ...

            • Oct 05, 2017 at 10:31 PM

              Chapter I

              As Moya Watson awoke one morning from uneasy dreams she found herself transformed in her bed into a small goat. She was lying on her soft, as it were fleecy, back and when she lifted her head a little she could see her fluffy white belly merging with the bed quilt which was about to slide off completely. Her four legs, which were pitifully short compared to the rest of her bulk, trotted flightily in the air before her eyes.

            • Oct 06, 2017 at 09:13 PM

              Chapter II

              When Moya looked out the window with her moist beady eyes, she saw a cloud as white and fluffy as her belly. The wind was chasing the cloud towards her and, as it drew closer, Moya noticed something unusual. "OMG, - thought Moya. - There is ABAP in that cloud!"

          • Oct 06, 2017 at 12:08 PM

            "but it's against the rules for a goat to get an account"

            Really? I demand proof, else she deserves an account!

            • Oct 09, 2017 at 12:45 AM

              Mike Pokraka - community rules is to effectively be yourself. I'm trying to argue that Capra is being herself - even if she has her goat headers communicating on her behalf (hey she's a celebrity after all)

              Audrey Stevenson - pity we can't argue Capra is a person :(

        • Oct 06, 2017 at 08:43 AM

          Great idea!

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