October 25, 2015

Oracle Ignite Sales Training in Santa Clara, California


Oracle Ignite Sales Training in Santa Clara, California
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for October 25, 2015


On Sunday, three of my co-workers and I traveled to sunny California to Oracle's headquarters for a week long sales training.  We learned a lot, played a lot, and slept a lot.  Except for that last part.


Our training occurred at an old Sun Microsystems campus that has a very dark history.  It's a former Insane Asylum that Sun bought from the state back in 1997.  It's supposedly Haunted which kept us very intrigued at least for the first couple of days.  During breaks we ran around to different buildings to see if we could take selfies with a ghost in the background, but none of them would cooperate with us.


I heard that the mansion where the director lived was the most haunted place.  Supposedly the basement of this building had a lot of spiritual activity, but it was closed off to the public.  We couldn't use our badges to get into this building.  I was really excited when I found out that my co-workers were going to get to practice some role-playing in the upstairs and quickly rushed over to see them when my training session was complete.  Lucky for me, they were still training and my co-worker took a quick break to let me into the building while they were doing their thing upstairs.  She had to rush back to her group, leaving me alone on the first level.  I have to admit, I was a little scared being down there alone, but couldn't resist my desires to get pictures of a ghost.  So I crept around the mansion going from room to room and looking for the entrance to the basement.  Unfortunately, the door was locked and I couldn't go down there.  So I stood in the lobby waiting for my co-workers to finish.  Eventually I was bored and had an idea.  Since all the people upstairs thought they were the only ones in the mansion and had also heard the same story about it being haunted, I thought I'd play a trick on them.  So I walked up to the wood wall and started banging on it with all my might.  Then I ran out of the front building and hid behind a tree.  When I later met up with my co-workers, they told me that they definitely heard my banging, but nobody really speculated about what they thought it was because they were still doing their training.  I hope someone thought it was a ghost and had a good story to tell their friends. At the very least, I got a good giggle out of it.


Most of our days were spent in the auditorium hearing lectures, doing interactive role-playing activities, watching videos, and rocking back and forth in our chairs watching the paint peel from the ceiling.  It was good information, just a whole darn bunch of it stuffed into a week!


Wendy and the other trainers did a good job at mixing in humor and crowd participation activities to keep us all entertained while we were absorbing the valuable information.  


At night we had fun checking out various restaurants in Silicon Valley and hanging out with new friends from Oracle offices all over the country.  Tommy was from Dallas and stayed at our hotel, so we got to enjoy a whole bunch of good times with him.


Andrew was from Miami and Matt was also from Minneapolis, but serves a different customer base than we do.  They are great guys.


On Wednesday night, we went to Levi's stadium where the 49ers play to check out a restaurant called Bourbon Pub.  The stadium was right down the street from our training facility, so it was close enough to stop by a couple of times.


The bar and restaurant were crazy busy, but the burger was awesome so I guess it was all OK in the long run.  We also got a chance to meet Ian from Oracle HQ and he was a bunch of fun.


There was a game on Thursday night, so we decided that morning to go and check it out.  The new stadium was very impressive, but their concessions lines need to be re-evaluated.  It took way too long to get a beer!


It was fun to see the former Super Bowl participants take on the home team, but the game quickly turned ugly when the Seahawks started scoring and the 49ers didn't.  They have really nice video screens in their new stadium, though, so they have that going for them.  Which is nice.


You may have heard that Silicon Valley has a little bit of corporate money flowing through it, therefore there were more corporate suites than I'm used to seeing.  


Sammy Haggar performed at halftime.  He was quite proud of his age which I believe he said was 98 and sang a couple of his classics like I Can't Drive 55.  I remember when I was a kid and the speed limit was 55, but that's not really the case any more so he should really change those words.  Like I can't drive because my vision can no longer pass the state mandated requirements.  That would totally rock.


Eventually our last day of training arrived.  It was time to do our final presentations and say goodbye to our new friends.  We're going to miss these people!


We drove up to Redwood Shores to see the HQ buildings and the boat that won the America's Cup back in 2010.  It's an amazing place and I hope to get to go there more often in the future!


We then spent the rest of our evening driving down to Pier 39 and seeing the sites like Alcatraz in the few remaining hours we had left.  I have to visit this prison island some day soon as well!


We were all pretty cranky after a week of being together, so the drive to downtown San Francisco was filled with zingers.  But I'm really glad I went to this training with this particular group.  They are just really good people.  I like really good people.