If you look hard enough, you can find an Agile conference to attend every month of the year. Whether you prefer international, national, regional, local, or even group meetups, there is a something for everyone these days. What I like most about conferences is the people! There are so many interesting people with their own fascinating stories that attend these events and, although the energy can be overwhelming at times, I find that conference experiences stay with me for a long time and I learn so much from them. My favorite conference has got to be Southern Fried Agile in Charlotte, North Carolina. But I must say I’m a little biased: I’ve been the chair for this event for the last few years. Even so, this is an excellent event for so many reasons, which I wanted to share here, along with some of my personal history with SFA.
About four years ago I decided to get involved in an Agile conference by volunteering for the first time at Southern Fried Agile. We had about 250 attendees from local companies in primarily Financial Services and Retail. All of the speakers were local, which gave the conference a very down-to-earth vibe. You could see friends from down the street as well as meet others you didn’t realize you were already connected too. It was almost like bringing LinkedIn to life.
I also volunteered at later Southern Fried Agile events, but I couldn’t settle for being a volunteer. I wanted to have more of a leadership role. So I connected with James Collins and Tom Wessel, the founders of Southern Fried Agile and shared my desire to really get more engaged. James and Tom had started SFA in 2010 and it had already grown roots well beyond that 75 attendees that attended that first year. Because I believe in the power of people and really wanted to get more involved, I knew I could help the event grow even more. Fast forward to today: we are planning SFA 2016 at the Charlotte Convention Center, the largest indoor venue in Charlotte, and are expecting over 700 attendees. We have speakers from within Charlotte and all over the country.
The thing I love about SFA is that, even as we continue to grow, we still maintain our small-town feel. People come to this event now to see friends they haven’t seen since the year before. The energy is extremely lively, people are laughing, talking, enjoying the day while learning and sharing with and from others. To keep the Southern hospitality and maintain our roots, every year Southern Fried Agile offers a fried chicken lunch that so many people have grown to love and expect. Other lunch options are available but there is something about southern fried chicken.
Whether or not fried chicken is your thing, Agilists should be excited that our opening keynote for the event is the incomparable Esther Derby. Here’s a taste of her charm and wit to tide you over until October 28!
Even though Esther is keeping her keynote topic a secret, you can be sure it’ll be worth the wait. We’re also excited to be taking our Agile Amped podcast to Charlotte to capture all the happenings and share them with our followers. (Subscribe here.)
Southern Fried Agile isn’t just a conference; it is truly a place where people come to connect and re-energize themselves as people that enjoy the art of Agile. If you’re on the fence about joining us, I say, “What have you got to lose?”