Cisco Live — A Spouse’s Viewpoint

Read­ing Time: 3 min­utes

Teren and I just returned from Cis­co Live in Orlan­do.  As always, we had an amaz­ing time see­ing some of the friends we have made over the past few years and meet­ing some new friends too.  I noticed that this year there seemed to be more spouses/significant oth­ers attend­ing, which is awe­some, and that many of them seemed to feel as out of place as I felt my first year attend­ing Cis­co Live.  I remem­ber how awk­ward I felt not know­ing any­one, and more impor­tant­ly, not under­stand­ing a damn thing any­one was talk­ing about.


Each year it seems like more and more women attend, but that first year I felt like Alice must have felt after step­ping through the look­ing glass, sur­round­ed as I was by male geeks speak­ing their weird geek lan­guage that seems to con­sist of a bunch of acronyms and things with names that sound like they belong in a Dr. Seuss book (FEC­Ns, BEC­Ns and penul­ti­mate hop pop­ping come to mind). Now that I have attend­ed 3 out of the past 4 years (Cis­co real­ly should come up with some spe­cial Net Vet perks for spous­es too) I feel that I should share some the things I have learned to help me nav­i­gate through the Land of Geeks in order to help any new­bie spous­es plan­ning to attend next year. These real­ly are not in any par­tic­u­lar order, but here are my top tips for hav­ing fun at Cis­co Live.


  1. Upon arriv­ing find anoth­er spouse to befriend.  This will be your non-geek bud­dy for the dura­tion of the show.  When you are hang­ing out in the social media lounge or at a bar you will have some­one to talk to, and some­one who will under­stand your eye rolls after the 85th lame NSA-is-spy­ing-on-us joke of the evening.
  2. If you don’t already have a thick skin, devel­op one quick­ly.  Most of the atten­dees are guys, and like all guys they tend to devolve into 12-year old boys when they get togeth­er in large groups.  Obvi­ous­ly, you should call some­one out if they step over the line, but if you are the type who is like­ly to get offend­ed at every obnox­ious com­ment about penis size or bed­room skills you will be absolute­ly mis­er­able.  You should feel free to flip them crap right back, by the way.  The guys are also usu­al­ly pret­ty easy to dis­tract, so if they start get­ting too out of hand just change the sub­ject.  Men­tion the­o­ret­i­cal physics and they can’t resist talk­ing about it.
  3. There is a ton of alco­hol, so pace your­self. In fact, I think I drank more dur­ing Cis­co Live than in the entire year pre­ced­ing it. From the beer and wine offered on the floor of World of Solu­tions, to the open bars at all the par­ties, to the night­ly hang­outs in whichev­er bar has been deemed the favorite drink­ing spot, there is a seri­ous amount of drink­ing that hap­pens. Bring aspirin and drink lots of water, and don’t try to keep up with the geeks- those boys can drink!
  4. Get a guest pass.  The guest pass lets you into some ses­sions and the keynote address­es, if you are inter­est­ed in learn­ing stuff, but more impor­tant­ly, the guest pass lets you into the World of Solu­tions, where you can col­lect as many tchotchskes as your lit­tle heart could desire, and into the Cus­tomer Appre­ci­a­tion Event, which is usu­al­ly an awe­some par­ty.
  5. Plan some fun stuff ahead of time.  I like to find some fun things to do while Teren is in ses­sions, either with friends or on my own.  Rent­ing a cabana by the pool, going sight­see­ing, get­ting spa treat­ments, or going shop­ping is a lot more fun than sit­ting around wait­ing for ses­sions to let out, so do some research to find out what is avail­able before you leave for the show.  You can almost always find anoth­er spouse to join you if you want com­pa­ny.  If you don’t know any oth­er spous­es yet, just have your hus­band ask around to see if any his Twit­ter bud­dies are bring­ing their spous­es and if they would be inter­est­ed in join­ing you.


These are all things that I have found help­ful, but my num­ber one tip is to be out­go­ing and have fun.  I have met some amaz­ing peo­ple at Cis­co Live over the years, both geeks and their spous­es, and I look for­ward to see­ing them all each year.  I hope that any spous­es who are unsure about whether they should attend, or won­der­ing if they will have fun if they do, find some of these tips help­ful and decide to come next year.