After six hours of sleep, I woke up early enough to grab coffee at Starbucks before heading over to the offices of Atlassian, the host of the conference. I was actually here in Austin for work. My company paid for me to attend the conference, Elevate Summit, which is dedicated to the customer support community. Attendees were people who work in customer support or whose businesses are customer-support tools; their roles varied from customer service representative all the way to CEOs of customer-support businesses (for example, O’Lark) .

People came from all sorts of companies: Google, Microsoft, BuzzFeed, ZenDesk, RunKeeper, Idealist.org and a number of other companies I had never heard of. The talks were all about support: pitfalls, managing it, scaling it, how to survive. 

It was my first time in attendance, and I was excited. One of the things that has long bothered me about being in customer support was feeling like there were few professional development opportunities and not knowing of how one could grow professionally in that type of role. I was excited about being able to meet people who work in and care about support as well as hearing ideas and learning from others’ experience. It was an opportunity to see and feel hope – that light at the end of what can often feel like a long, never-ending, thankless dark tunnel.

Whiskers for President
Nothing gives greater inspiration and captivates your audience than images of cats.

Although the number of speakers being lined up was intense (there were not multiple panels), I felt like I got a lot of it. There were twenty-two speakers, and while all the speakers weren’t equally engaging or interesting for me, I appreciated every moment of it. It was truly fascinating. Also, there were plenty of cats. I’d say at least half of the talks featured slides with cats.

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