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Listen to Episode 95

Guess what time it is?! Dude University, our annual user conference, is about to kick off on May 5, so we’re giving you a sneak preview into this year’s event, the history of the conference and other fun facts from Kate Donnelly, Client Marketing Manager, and Nick Pendergraft, Training Manager, at Dude Solutions. 

Show Notes: 

Show Script:

Brian
Welcome to the Operate Intelligently Podcast, the podcast for all things operations.

It's springtime in North Carolina, the birds are chirping, the flowers are blooming and that means one thing. It's time for Dude University. Joining me today are Kate Donnelly, Client Marketing Manager, and Nick Pendergraft, Training Manager, here at Dude Solutions. Welcome to the podcast. 

Kate & Nick
Thanks for having us. Thanks so much. 

Brian
So Dude University is going to take place on May 5-8 at the Raleigh Convention Center here in our hometown of Raleigh, North Carolina. So could you all tell me a little bit about you know what your role is at Dude University and a little bit about the event in general? 

Kate
Yeah, so I'll start I put together a lot of the third-party and client-led session speaker portion of the curriculum. So I do all of the best practices, the thought leadership, and anybody not a Dude employee, basically speaking at Dude U, as well as the less exciting stuff like building our conference app and working on the website and, and things like that. And Nick helps me with all of that. 

Nick
Yeah, so I'm kind of Kate's partner in crime there, tag-teaming the curriculum. And I really focus more on our product sessions that traditionally our client services team leads. So you know, working on creating tracks for product learning. So you can come in, get the best information possible about our products and the value that they offer. And also working internally with folks to just help them prepare for the event, and make sure we're creating the best client experience we can in the classroom. 

Brian
So this is my first Dude University. Tell me a little bit about what makes it special as a user conference. 

Nick
Yeah, so I'll jump in there on that one. So, you know, I think something that's really unique about Dude University, having been someone who's traveled to many different conferences, you know, across the country. For a lot of different reasons, is the value that is placed on the experience of our clients at Dude University. And that manifests in several different ways. I think there's the larger picture of, you know, how we try to put together an event that provides a lot of value in a lot of different ways, whether that's through networking events, or through product training experiences are our Learning Lab, and which I'll elaborate on here a little bit more about that, but to just the my new details of how we interact with our clients at Dude University, how we speak to them, how we try to make sure their their needs are fulfilled. And when you come to the event, that you come with a series of things that you want to get accomplished, and we do everything in our power to help you do that. And I think that's something that's really unique and you don't always experience.

Brian
Kate, can you tell me a little bit about the history of the event?

Kate
Yeah, so I wasn't around for the early days of Dude, you but it started in 2001, in South Carolina. And about 80 people showed up, and we did it in a single room. And so it just progressed from that on, and we had to move to bigger venues. We've been to San Diego. And now we're finally back in Raleigh, and we officially have 1000 people registered. So it's kind of crazy to go from 80 to 1000 people. 

Brian
We're also celebrating our 20th birthday here at The Dude. Is there anything that is going to happen at the event that's going to kind of reflect on that? 

Kate
Yep. So we're going to hear from Ed, the CEO and Jodi the CPO about The Dude and where we're going. And we're going to look back over the last 20 years, and we're also gonna look forward into the next 20. And we're also going to properly celebrate The Dude's birthday throughout the event. So that's pretty exciting. 

Brian
So I did hear we're going to have an 80s theme band for. 

Kate
We are: The Breakfast Club. 

Brian
Yeah, that's gonna be awesome, reliving my college days. So what's different about this year.  Like, what can attendees expect? Maybe people have been in past years that would be something new.

Nick
So Dude University this year, we're going to have our innovation station set up with Dude Labs. And so our Dude Labs team is a collection of some of the most talented, ambitious, you know, smartest people w e have in Dude Nation, people who, you know, we're constantly coming up with ideas on how we can provide more value for our clients. And you know, as a company, we came together and decided to be great to put these people together as an organizing unit to consistently try to innovate for our clients. And so having them available at the innovation station to show some of the things they're doing to really give a sneak peek into the future of what's possible with The Dude and our solutions. I think is really going to be great for everyone to see.

Brian
I agree with you. I've worked for a couple companies that have hosted their user conferences and it's a fantastic event because you know, you really get great information, great interaction with your clients. The other thing that I think's gonna be neat about the innovation station and Dude Labs is that is very unique for any company to really be able to kind of take those kind of black ops guys and say, Hey, here's a sneak peek inside what we're doing. And you know, Brooks, we've had him on the podcast. He's awesome. So I know it's going to he's going to hit it out of the park.

Nick
He's sharp. He's going to blow people away. For sure. 

Kate
Yeah, they're bringing some pretty cool stuff. I won't spoil it, but and some other new stuff. We have the biggest Learning Lab setup ever with 99 computers not sure why we didn't go with around 100. But it's a great way to keep it exciting for next year. But we have 99 computers. We have account reviews running the entire time in the Learning Lab as well as demonstration stations. So folks can come and check out the latest products or new releases anything like that. And I know Nick wants to talk a little bit about the lab. 

Nick
Yeah, I just want to piggyback off of that kind of going back to what makes Dude University so special. The Learning Lab I think is a huge piece of that. So whether you're listening to this and thinking about you know Dude University as a possibility for the future, or you're someone coming this year to rally to celebrate with us, the Learning Lab is somewhere that really separates Dude University from other conferences and that we give clients the ability to sit down in a one on one environment and go through your specific questions your specific needs, and answer them directly where you don't necessarily have the distractions you might have at the office or you know, at the plan or whatever the case may be, you know, you have that dedicated focus time, where you can sit down with someone, look them in the eye address, whatever needs you have, and the people that are going to be there working with you. I can guarantee you are going to do everything in their power to make sure your questions are answered. And that you can find the most value possible. And again, the Learning Lab is just really the hub I think of activity at Dude University. There's just always a lot of buzz around the Learning Lab and really fun place to be. 

Kate
And it's not it's a little different from those sessions will Yes, they are interactive sessions. But at the lab, you're sitting like mix of one person, you just log into your own account. So it's not like a dummy account. You're learning something and you're making changes in real time and fixing things in your own account, which is. I think it's that personal touch, you know, going back to, I've been to a lot of conferences before. And you know, you go to a lot of trading classes, and they're wonderful and you learn a lot. And you get overloaded with a ton of information. But I think having that environment where it's not three days later, when I go back to the office, and I'm like, oh, what did that presenter say about doing this tactic? How do I do that? No, I can go to a class and then literally turn around and walk out of that class and go to an environment that's structured for me to ask that question and actually put what I learned into practice. And so again, I think that's just something really, really unique and special about Dude University. 

Brian
So Kate, we mentioned having a band, but that's all part of like the opening festivities, could you tell us a little bit about that.

Kate
So on Sunday will be over at Red Hat Amphitheater for an outdoor concert with that 80s band which is going to be awesome and a ton of food. We're doing a classic North Carolina pig pickin' and we're going to have a bunch of local vendors line the outside of it. So you guys can try out a ton of just like the local goodies that we have around and House of swag is going to be there and they make our conference t-shirts every year, which is like a really awesome local company. So we're really excited for that. So everyone kind of gets a taste of the hometown. 

Brian
And it's going to be held in downtown Raleigh, which has a ton of great restaurants and things to see. And I know you guys have kind of prepared some information to win if you if you are attending Dude University, check out our fine downtown and some of the fabulous moments. So I want to ask both of you what are you really most excited about this event? 

Nick
So I think for me one of the special things about Dude U is being able to make an in-person connection with someone that I've worked with for maybe it's just been months, maybe it's been years, you know, make that in-person connection, put a name to a face, and being able to work in an environment where I'm able to provide value for a client and see that aha moment for them. It really validates what I do as my profession, you know, we put a lot of time and effort into our craft and providing the best service that we can for our clients. But having that those aha moments and the special interactions with clients that do to you is, is really I think, professionally what we live for. 

Brian
I agree. I think the few times I've been in being in Marketing, sometimes we don't get to meet and talk to a lot of clients. It's just very refreshing to hear their opinion on things get their feedback there doozy as about the brand. So Kate, what are you most excited about? 

Kate
I'm kind of the same as Nick. There's not one specific thing. It's kind of seeing all of the hard work come to fruition and see how much our clients enjoy. Do you and the little things that we thought of to just make it the best conference possible? Because it seems very natural when you get there and it's just it flows. Great. It's a great conference. I don't want to jinx it, but you know, on May 9, Nick, Lauren and I are all heads down literally planning for the next year, there's no break. So it's kind of this huge thing for us to get to see it all come together and I just love getting to see the clients who've been coming for years and the brand new ones that I've only met over email, it just makes it all worth it, you know, to just get to see it all. 

Nick
And I think to add on to that, just the fact Kate mentioned enjoying our clients, but enjoying them in a different type of environment though, there's the professional environment, so to speak, that that we have in the classroom that we have in the lab with clients, but also being able to go to a Sunday night kickoff event and listen to a band play and sit at a table and eat barbecue and you know, have a drink together and just talk about life and you know and and that's a different type of connection. So I think it's it's just a really powerful thing because by now we know about people's kids, everything and it's people that you've known for years. you're checking out. How's your wife doing or you know how are the kids or what's going on with such and such, you know, the things you might be talking about throughout the year over email or during a training or something, you know, or whatever the case may be again, and it's a great way for new clients to come in and kind of tap into that network and get to meet people who have been either experienced with our products or just experienced in the field. 

Brian
I think that's another great thing about user conferences is that you can really build some kind of lateral connections. I mean, you may not be in the same market and, or anything and both geographically and such like that. But it might be like, wow, this person kind of has the same role I do in the same circumstance and right may be good just to bounce ideas off on email or chat. 

Nick
Yeah, that's it. Yeah. That's a great thing about Dude U I tell people all the time of my classes, you know, it's, it's one thing for me to tell you The Dude is great. I work for The Dude, they pay. They helped me support my family. I'm supposed I'm supposed to do that. Right. But it's an entirely different thing to have a client come who, you know, experiences a lot of things, day-to-day struggles and, and pains that you might experience in your role and your job. And you might be in different countries or different parts of the United States or whatever the case may be. But to hear them come and talk about how The Dude has helped impact their professional life, and it's helped them provide value to that organization, it's just totally different. So I always tell clients, listen to me, that's great. I'll tell you a lot of good stuff about the dude. But make sure you connect with other folks as well. And we give you a ton of opportunities to do that. 

And really, that's been very important to us going from, you know, 80 people in one room to 1000 people in our kickoff event has to be in an amphitheater. We just we have not lost that family vibe and, and the intimacy of the event. And that's something that we don't plan on losing anytime soon. How many classrooms do we have?

Kate
We have 13 classrooms and the smallest one holds, I think, 140 people 280 sessions,

13 classrooms, we just have 13 classes. Now we started with one room, period, and now we have just 13 we're really a university now right? We go crazy. Crazy.

Brian
So one other note we will be recording podcasts that Dude University. So if you happen to be one of our guests, we look forward to talking to you. I want to thank Kate and Nick for coming on and telling us all about Dude University today.

Kate & Nick
I hope we did it justice. Yeah, I'm looking forward to it.

Brian
And if you're coming to Dude University, we wish you safe travels, and we will provide links to the Dude University website in the show notes.

Thank you for listening to the Operate Intelligently Podcast produced by Dude Solutions. You can reach us by emailing us dspodcast@dudesolutions.com or check us out on the web at dudesolutions.com

Transcribed by https://otter.ai
 

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