Sara, SEMPO, San Francisco…

Just before SES, New York the SEMPO New York, local working group had its first meeting at Yahoo’s midtown offices. Of course, I was there for the splendid snacks and free drinks. And just last week, I attended the second meeting at the same location (me being a bit of local myself now). Mike Grehan+SEMPO, I hear you shriek!

Well, it can get lonely living on your own in New York and I really do have to get out more 🙂

Seriously, I have a renewed interest totally inspired by my friend, a little force of nature known as Sara Holoubek.

Sara’s totally passionate and quite simply swoops into the building and takes over the room. In order to get more attention to myself I went to the first meeting disguised as Matt Cutts. Turns out lots of people are aware that Matt is not a little, old, fat guy with a British accent. So that kind of blew it. Last week I used my stealth technique again and attended as Adam Lasnik… Turns out that, lots of people are aware that Adam is not a little, old, fat guy with a British accent. Damn, failed again!

I’ve been rethinking my strategy. Yesterday, I had lunch in San Francisco with Vanessa Fox. I’m just not sure I can fit into that dress size. But hey, let’s give it a try 🙂

And so it was, I left New York last Friday with the Village People top-tune, San Francisco (You got me) playing in my head. I checked into the Westin (formerly the Argent) with its pleasant views of the city (so entirely different to New York)

To the right I have the striking building that is the Marriott hotel (AKA the jukebox).

And to the left, the sea a little way in the distance. I had a deja vu moment when I looked out of the window and remembered I’d stayed in the very same room when I was speaking at ad:tech a couple of years back.

Saturday I had a quick beer at lunch time with my great pal Jim Sterne. And later we met up for the traditional pre-conference dinner. We were recommended a wonderful little Italian restaurant (the name of which I completely forget). And pretty soon, the shampoo was flowing.

Not sure if was the shampoo that went to Matt Finlay’s head. But for some reason he felt it was necessary to poke poor Fanny (his assistant) in the eye. Talk about a totally different style of management 🙂

After dinner, it was back to the hotel bar where, again traditionally, Belgian analytics superstar Rene Dechamps Otamendi arrives with the delicious Belgian chocolates.

This is a shot which occurs at every eMetrics event at some point… Me taking a pic of Jim Sterne… Taking a pic of me!

One of my favorite places to visit in San Francisco is in the touristy area of Fisherman’s Wharf. Here, proudly standing for more than 50 years is the Franciscan restaurant.

You can tell by the wine glass they make a big deal about being 50 (and yes, I can seriously recommend the Shrimp Pescatore – delicious).

No less than once a year, I find myself sitting in the high booths facing the huge windows that look out over Alcatraz Island. Here you can see everything go by. From tourist ferry boats…

to cargo ships…

to little sail boats…

On Sunday I had a fabtastic (yes, that was fabtastic) day with lovely Lisa Barone. Not many people know that, Lisa is actually my long lost daughter who was abducted and sold into… What? What?? Okay, so you’ve heard it before…

Anyway, we took ourselves to the top of the Hyatt hotel and its Grandviews restaurant for Sunday brunch.

And then we headed to the Franciscan where Lisa got involved in her new spectator sport: watching her old pop type thing get fashionably drunk in the afternoon. Of course, like any good pop type thing, I didn’t let the day go by without taking her to see the famous California sea lions, sunning, stinking and barking on the bay!

Some of the other residents have no idea what the whole sea-lion-fuss-thing is all about…

And so the event got into full swing, Monday. In between my sessions, I took a walk around the exhibit hall. Here I bump into a lot of my pals. Tim Ash (great book) as you can see was doing a book signing. His colleague next to him is obviously saying: “But let’s make the next one at least this thick, okay?”

Talking about bumping into people, after the SEMPO bash in New York, last week I walked out into the street and bumped into Marshall Sponder who just happened to be outside the Yahoo! Building. “I heard you were living in New York, now” sez he. Yes, I reply. “Going to eMetrics next week” sez me. “Absolutely” sez he. “Should be good” sez me, “I haven’t seen Eric Peterson for a while.” “He’s standing right behind you” sez Marshal! And so he was… So he and I and Marshall and Kevin Ryan and Rhian and Kevin Heisler and Bill & Motoko Hunt and more, had a spontaneous SEM/Analytics get-together in the restaurant across the street.

Sure enough, one of the first people I bumped into at the conference was none other than Eric himself!

Monday was cinco de Mayo, and Lisa (Mike-shut-up-about-the-stick-and-semi-clad-girls-in Universal-results-or-I’ll-never- blog-your-sessions-again) Barone, decided that Mexican food was the order of the day. And so, complete with recommendations from the concierge, myself, “The Lisa”, Matt Bailey and Dave Rohrer headed for a restaurant… which served food about as Mexican as a full English breakfast (saved only by the Chips and guacamole!)

Later that evening, my newest and bestest friend and colleague, Acronym’s very own Tami Dally, flew in from New York to join the throng at the bar. In no time at all, I had the shampoo flowing and the very artistic Marshall Sponder (obviously not being a Dom Perignon sort of guy) decided to draw it instead of drink it as Tami looked on 🙂

As usual, the conference was excellent for networking.

And, as ever, the food and drinks at the sponsor sessions in the exhibit hall were first class (one of the reasons I love this conference).

And lunch, of course, is always a truly excellent networking (birds of a feather) event.

Industry supertars really do abound. And here, in one of my sessions, Vanessa Fox tells Avinash Kaushik, “of course, the last algorithm I wrote at Google before leaving was this big!”

“Being analytics guru at Google, I’m always measuring things” says Avinash. And then reaching into his pocket “I have this fab new analytics tool called… a tape measure, with me. Let’s just see how big that mother really is…”

And with the conference over, I sneaked back to the Franciscan for a little chill on my own. And then I started the long journey back to Newcastle to see if my wife remembers who I am.


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