“What’s within us is stronger than what’s in our way,” blind adventurer Erik Weihenmayer confirmed during what many are saying was the best Super Session they’ve ever attended at Synergy.

The inspiration was palpable, and for many, tears flowed as this incredible man shared his journey from the onset of sudden blindness at a young age to climbing the highest of mountains on six continents, including Mount Everest.

“There are more struggles on these journeys than there are triumphs,” he said. And he admitted that he sometimes has a hard time when people say “anything is possible,” or that barriers are all in your head, because he’s been hit by more than his share — and many of those have been painfully real. But the secret he’s learned along the way isn’t about avoiding adversity, or pretending it’s not there, or even overcoming it. Instead, it’s about seizing that energy and using it to propel yourself forward. “The way we harness the challenges in our lives — it’s our greatest advantage,” he said. “What if they weren’t the enemy? What if they were the pathway to greatness?”

“The world is crying out for alchemy,” he continued, urging us all to become alchemists in our own lives — to be the climbers instead of the campers who hit a place of cynicism with no will to go on, or worse, the quitters. “Climbers continue to figure out a way to explore and find a new way every day of their lives,” he said. “If you put roadblocks in front of them, they will still find a way to win, not despite of adversity  —because of it.”

He assured us that every one of us is “reaching into the darkness, hoping and praying with our algorithms and software, and we realize there’s no guarantee.” But instead of letting that fear paralyze us, he encouraged us to remember that there is always a way forward, even if it isn’t pretty. And adversity will be there — it always is when we commit to a no-barriers life and to climbing the mountains in our reality, he said, but “the most exciting part of life, and also the most daunting, is being an explorer and reaching out beyond convention to see beyond what others see as possible and probable, to feel in our hearts what’s really possible.”

The key, he said, is to iterate, innovate, keep at it, and have a great team. “Be careful who is on your team,” he said, because “they can drive you to the summit or they can kill you.” But roping yourself together with the right people and together remaining nimble and shifting as needed can get you through anything. “The scope and power of that type of team is unstoppable,” he said.

He also said that the real crowning moment of this journey isn’t the summit — it’s when we descend from the mountain and use the gifts we learned during the struggle to lift other people up. “We’re all in the elevation business,” he said.

“The decisions you make every day either shove you to the sidelines or propel you along that path, sometimes to new discoveries. Tap into something deeper,” he urged. “Lean into that light and let it blaze you into the world.” And he ended his presentation by encouraging us all to keep climbing.

Thank you, Erik, you greatly moved and inspired us all, and I also appreciate that you took the time at lunch today to meet with people and give away a signed copy of your book, No Barriers: A Blind Man’s Journey to Kayak the Grand Canyon.

Many of you have asked, so here again is the donation link for Erik’s organization: www.citrixsynergy.com/nobarriers.

We Have More Winners!

If you caught the beginning of today’s Super Session, then you know we also announced the winner of the prestigious Citrix Innovation Award, decided by your votes, this morning. Congratulations to Indiana University! I’m so inspired by the ways they’re using Citrix technology to empower all of their students, including the visually impaired.

I also want to extend a very warm thank you to our other finalists, Schroders and ZF, for sharing their stories, and further demonstrating the incredible things that Citrix makes possible.

A few more congratulations are in order, especially to team Phoenix for winning the third annual Synergy Battle Bots competition! It was very close in the end, and team Freaks deserve major props, as well. In fact, all the kids do, and I also want to express my appreciation to everyone who participated and helped out. It was a lot of fun, and the kids all looked like they had a really great time — so thank you!

Special thanks to Citrix product design expert Sonny Chhen, as well, for creating this year’s Battle Bots t-shirts—I love the design! And remember, everyone, that Citrix will donate $1 for every post you make that includes the #citrixsynergy hashtag on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook through the end of today, up to $50,000, so please keep posting.

Last Day of Breakouts

Attendees are sharing their appreciation for the quality and quantity of information coming out of this year’s technical breakout sessions. Some of you have likened them to a firehose, and I have to say that I agree! Some of today’s favorites were:

  • SYN211: HDX: it’s all about the user experience with Citrix HDX product managers, including senior product manager Mark Howell, product manager Miguel Contreras, principal product manager Fernando Klurfan, product manager Roberto Moreno, and Aravind Namasivayam.
  • SYN211: How to protect your Citrix deployments and modern applications with Citrix ADC, presented by Patrick Coble of VDI Security and Citrix senior product manager Frank Bunger
  • SYN202: Under the hood with Citrix Analytics with Citrix senior principal data scientist Jim Regetz and Citrix’s director of product analytics Mathew Varghese.

There’s so much more great content I can’t possibly highlight it all: SYN213: Optimizing VDI and RDS performance and scalability (with Martin Zugec and Rob Zylowski) and SYN212: Windows Virtual Desktop and Citrix: new opportunities for desktop and app virtualization (with Carisa Stringer and Harsh Gupta as well as Randy Cook and Pieter Wigleven, both from Microsoft) will be available on-demand on Citrix Synergy TV. Be sure to check the schedule!

Diversity in Technology

Have you been busily working in between sessions in various places here in the conference center? That’s just one example of the ways many of us are working remotely this week. Is it something you do regularly, even full time? Lisa Kepinski, the founder of Inclusion Institute and cofounder of Inclusion Nudges, and Scott Ballina, senior director of Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging here at Citrix, led an engaging and interactive discussion this afternoon on the current state of remote work from the human behavior perspective, the inherent challenges remote employees face — including isolation issues and fears of not having access to as many opportunities — and how managers can start to alleviate those issues. Attendees gathered around tables to share their experiences in groups, and there were some really rich conversations about the subject as a result. More companies and workers are either considering or engaging in these discussions, so it’s an important issue for our time, and I hope you were able to check it out.

Don’t Miss Tonight’s Finale

I’m about to head over for one last look at the Solutions Expo and the Southern Hospitality Snack Break, then I’ll be getting ready for the Final Night Party tonight. Remember to pick up your wristband at the Giveaway Desk and to bring that along with your conference credentials and government-issued ID to the party because it’s going to be a really fun night, and I don’t want you to miss out. There will be a number of really interesting talent acts to see, plus good music, lots of games, and fair food galore. Maybe I’ll see you in the beer garden or wandering around the midway. Can’t wait!

It’s hard to believe that Synergy 2019 is almost over! I hope you had even half as much fun as I did and that this experience will continue to fuel your digital transformation in the months to come. Revisit the presentations as needed for more inspiration and insight — if you’re a registered attendee, they’ll be available in your My Synergy Account by June 3. In the meantime, select sessions, including the Opening Keynote, will be available on Citrix Synergy TV soon for on-demand viewing.

More to Come

We’ll also be launching the Citrix Future of Work Tour shortly and bringing the best of Synergy 2019 vision and training — including a few of this year’s technical breakout sessions — to cities worldwide. We’ll be sharing the link to learn more about it and register very soon — stay tuned!

Last, but certainly not least, I hope you’ll join us at Citrix Synergy 2020 in Orlando, Florida, May 19-21. Keep an eye out in November for our first promotions and register before the end of the year to get the best rates.

Thanks for helping to make this such a fantastic event! Keep climbing, everyone, and I’ll see you in Orlando next year!