Visiting Nashville: Vanderbilt & Team Trip

This past week I was in Nashville, TN with some of the Reclaim Hosting crew for a little bit of in-person fun. Since we’re a fully remote team at this point, it has always been a goal of ours to get everyone together at least once a year. (Previous trips have included New York City, Galway, Bristol, and Portland.) In-person trips have been a no-go with the pandemic, but now over two years later, our team looks vastly different and a trip was overdue. As with most events these days, not everyone was able to make it which was a bummer. I still look forward to the day where everyone can attend, but it was still pretty great to be able to connect with those who were able to make it in person.

And Reclaim is nothing if not efficient, so Pilot, Jim and myself actually arrived a day early to meet with Mickey Casad, Executive Director of the Vanderbilt Center for Digital Humanities, and others at Vanderbilt University. I’m coming to find on-campus talks to be so invigorating, and this one was no different.

walking out the door to meet for coffee with Jim and Pilot
Center for Digital Humanities Lab
Where the Center for Digital Humanities Lab lives- gorgeous!
walking on Vanderbilt’s beautiful campus

Jim and I split the talk into DoOO and Reclaim Cloud overviews and you can read through Jim’s perspective here. My big takeaways from the conversation:

  1. Don’t get bogged down in the tech when communicating the potential of a technical service. It can be really easy to slip into the deeper details when the tech is the subject of conversation. By resisting the urge this past week with Vanderbilt, we were able to better define the concepts of Domains and Reclaim Cloud, highlight work being done in the community, and think more critically with the folks in the room about how to bring it to campus. What’s more, this keeps the conversation engaging for all perspectives, instead of just those with a super tech-focused background.
  2. Thinking of Reclaim Hosting products and services as tiered or layered based on experience and needs. We’ve always believed that WordPress Multisite Hosting and cPanel Hosting were not at odds; that they could live alongside each other as parallel services to meet the needs of different users. This became all the more apparent when introducing Reclaim Cloud to the folks at Vanderbilt. By acknowledging that no single service will fill the gaps for all users, but that each service will fit the needs for most users, we can then begin to narrow in on who might best be served where. For instance:
    • Layer/Tier 1: WordPress Multisite – for the users that are scratching the surface of building out webspace
    • Layer/Tier 2: Domain of One’s Own – for the users that need a bit more freedom, storage space, and app flexibility
    • Layer/Tier 3: Reclaim Cloud – for the users with more niche requirements or ideas outside of the LAMP stack
  3. Full transparency is key. To pretend like we have all the answers would be silly. Reclaim Cloud is still fairly new, and we’re still very much trying to figure out where and how it can be best used in a classroom setting. I like that we’re open about this, and it allows schools to step up to the plate and work alongside us to make sense of what Reclaim Cloud means for them.

And now mostly for my own personal record, here are the slides that we used:

After wrapping up at Vanderbilt we were later joined in Nashville by Meredith, Goutam, Chris and Tim. We ended up staying at The 121 Hotel which I highly recommend! I chose this space not only for the cozy lodging, but also because we were able to rent out common areas for the duration of our trip. We had full kitchen, dining, and lounge areas which made it super convenient to work and hangout together on Friday and throughout the weekend.

The in-person team working together on Friday

Friday was definitely a highlight of the trip for me, as it brought us together to think critically about where we are as a company, and where we hope to be in the future. The goal was to walk away from the trip with each internal team (Sales, Support, Infrastructure) feeling like they have marching orders for the next year. Here was my rough outline for the day, along with some GIFs used on my slides, lol:

Friday’s Agenda

  • Early Morning: Coffee & Icebreakers
  • Mid Morning: State of the Union Reclaim Hosting: Where are we now? A celebration of the work done over the last year
  • Late Morning: Brainstorming– Trends in Higher Ed; Where do we want to be? What’s relevant? What’s possible? On the horizon? What are people asking for? What are people struggling with?
  • Lunch & Early Afternoon: Break out groups for Support, Sales, Infrastructure to discuss possible next steps & team goals
  • Mid/Late Afternoon: Show & Tell, get a game plan together
Tim thinking through failover in Reclaim Cloud
Goutam, Pilot, and Chris

The ideas were flowing, and it’s safe to say that we all left Nashville with a solid list of goals for 2022. We have our work cut out for us, but as our team continues to grow, the rate and scale for which this work can happen is even more exciting to me. Broad themes/takeaways from Friday:

  1. Understanding that the answer to “Why Reclaim?” may look differently depending on who you’re speaking to, both internally and externally, and it’s important that our ethos remains the same throughout all conversations. Product communication strategies amongst all teams.
  2. Continued growth and training in Reclaim Cloud. Placing priority and attention on Professional Development for all
  3. Making sure all services provided by Reclaim are accurately shown on the website and documentation.
  4. Continued/more engagement with Community through Reclaim Today, Case Studies and newsletters. New roadshows & events.
  5. Roadmap & security improvements in Infrastructure; thinking beyond cPanel and improvements to DoOO

I’m very excited for what’s to come. I’m also really happy with where we are now, and with everything we’ve accomplished so far. This weekend was an important reminder for me to feel both!

Friday night we reserved a Lounge Couch at Game Terminal, which is easily the coolest Arcade + Bar I’ve ever been to. Wasn’t able to get a group photo because everyone immediately dispersed to check out all the games, but here are a few snapshots:

SO many pinball games! The full list can be found here.

On Saturday, we had no real plan besides exploring Nashville. We started out at the Nashville Parthenon before splitting up to take on the city.

We used the Old Town Trolley Tours to hop on & off at different stops around Nashville. I highly recommend if you’re not sure where to go or if you need a quick way to get around! We finished Saturday evening at the Escape Room right downtown, and by golly, we escaped!

Feeling thankful and excited to be apart of such a cool team. Until next time, Nashville!

One comment

  1. Pingback: Defining our institutional approach to Domain of One’s Own – Ed Beck

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