In preparation for MEDC 2007 Australia/New Zealand, Derek Snyder and I arrived in Sydney after dueling 14-hour flights from the West Coast. Derek won the race abord United while I flew Quantas. That being said, one of us slept in a fully-flat semi-private pod with video on demand and the best service in the air while the other had quite the opposite experience. Upon arrival, we decided we better do a little walk-about town. Like any tourist visiting Sydney for the first time, our passionate love of opera pulled us to the famous Sydney Opera House.
Even though we’re closing in on winter in the Souther Hemisphere, the weather is perfect. Friendly Australians were nice enough to take a picture of Derek and me without stealing Derek’s digital SLR. One of the things that stood out to us was the more formal business attire of the people on the streets of Sydney on a Friday afternoon. Both men and women alike were all dressed to the nines in the finest suits. The US has slowly abandoned this kind of business attire in all put a few sectors like the financial industry. Compared to the grunge/slacker look I’m accustomed to back home, I found this to be very refreshing. Derek and I decided we might start wearing suits to work at Microsoft every once in a while just for the shock value if nothing else.
Another cool moment during our first day in Sydney occured when we asked a guy that worked at a local computer store where we might find the nearest Telstra store. He answered: “Take a right out of the store and then another right by the Matrix fountain.” How cool it must be to live in the home of the Matrix where facts and lines from the movie have now been incorporated into the local vernacular. It’s good to be “plugged in” so to speak. I hope all those people we saw wearing suits weren’t actually a bunch of Agent Smiths.
On our first evening, one of our Microsoft brethern, Don Kerr, took us out to a cool place called the Australian Hotel in the Rocks part of town. Little did we know about the culinary specialties of the house. We ended up eating pizzas with Kangaroo, Emu, and Crocodile toppings. If my kids read this, I’m sure they’ll begin crying immediately. The Emu was delicious, the Croc tasted like chicken and the Kangaroo tasted a lot like Koala.
Our Australian hosts proceeded to bring up every Australian cliche and movie line you can imagine in hopes that we wouldn’t do the same during our MEDC keynotes or breakout sessions. A sampling includes:
1. Comments about Australia being a former penal colony and full of convicts.
2. “That dingo stole my baby.”
3. “That’s not a knife…”
4. “No worries”
They also made sure they we knew that Aussies don’t all drink Fosters. We drank excellent local microbrews and I must say that I absolutely love it here!