Well folks, it’s the big week of our 5th Annual Global SOF Symposium – US. As with all of our big events, we’ll be keeping you posted on the events and happenings here on the blog and on our social media accounts. Even if you’re attending in person this week, it’s a great way to stay informed.

Let’s see what happened with us today: Day 0.

It’s Crunch Time

The day (and weeks and months) right before a Symposium is always a little crazy, but five years in we were feeling calm, cool, and —–just kidding! No matter what, the day before a Symposium is always a bit chaotic.

“Crunch Time” is not glamorous… it includes a lot of folding paper, sorting alphabetically, searching for packages, and fielding last-minute emails. But, we do everything we can as a team to make sure the next few days will run smoothly for our attendees, speakers, and exhibitors.

Our Sponsors are also a big part of what makes our Symposiums run smoothly, and we were happy to see how two of those items turned out today while we prepped the registration space.

2019 GSS-US: Day 0

Owl Cyber Defense, which is the newest GSF Corporate Partner going into this event, sponsored the “Swag Bags.” Instead of going with the standard tote, we found something that can appeal to the adventurous nature of our community–dry bags that can accompany you on aquatic adventures like rafting or scuba trips. “Owl” be sure to use mine–and I hope you do, too!

We’re also prepping everyone’s #1 fashion accessory for the week…the badge and lanyard.

Badges are huge at events like this, because no matter how much brain training you do, you can’t remember every name. Our badges also include helpful information like company names and, only if you’re cool, ribbons that show your Global SOF Membership, Partnership, Sponsorship, Exhibitor…ship… and a variety of other things!

2019 GSS-US: Day 0

Plus, you don’t have to worry about damaging your nice clothes with the badge, because our partner at Worldwide Risk Management has sponsored some theme-fitting lanyards for the week.

While we wouldn’t quite call it a well-oiled-machine, we do feel more prepared and ready for action in our fifth year. And lessons learned from previous events have enabled us to do more…even when we’re holding the event in a brand new location that we’ve never used before.

Our First Year at the Grand Hyatt

Did we mention that this is a new venue for this event? The first one in 2015 was held in St. Petersburg, but the three subsequent Symposiums were held at Innisbrook in Palm Harbor, FL. Staying in the same place for three years allowed us to get into a routine, but we wanted to keep things fresh this year and move things closer to central Tampa at the Grand Hyatt.

We are pretty pumped about this new venue for a few reasons…

  1. The ballrooms are newly remodeled and everything is state of the art in the meeting spaces.
  2. The guest rooms themselves are also very nice, with a variety of suites and casitas.
  3. There are two exhibit spaces, one in the foyer outside of the General Sessions and one in a special Exhibitor Pavilion.
  4. It’s just 3 miles from the Tampa International Airport and around 10 miles from MacDill Air Force Base–which houses USSOCOM, USCENTCOM, and USSOCCENT.
  5. It’s in an awesome waterfront location with stellar restaurants and pools.

We’re also pretty excited about the timing of this event. It’s usually during President’s Day week in February, but we had to postpone it two weeks this year. While it does conflict with some other events, it’s great in “Tampa terms.”

First off, the weather is getting warm but not hot, and it’s not our rainy season yet (sure, maybe it poured today, but that’s over now). So please: pack some leisure clothes and plan some beach time. See below for reference…

2019 GSS-US: Day 0

Secondly, this is an amazing week in the Tampa Bay Area for fun activities. If you haven’t planned to stay the weekend after the Symposium, you need to change your flights now. We’ve put together a list of the great things going on that you can look at here, but they include the Gasparilla Music Festival, the St. Petersburg Grand Prix, and the Tampa Chapter of the Special Forces’ Association 007 Casino Royale Fundraiser.

Take advantage of your week in Tampa

2019 GSS-US: Day 0

As you’re traveling into town and prepping for the week, we wanted to give you some tips for a successful Symposium.

  • Download and use the Whova App. Our event App allows you to do a number of things, including (cue bullets within bullets):
    • Message or request contact info from fellow attendees
    • See maps of the exhibit halls and the whole Grand Hyatt Tampa resort
    • Get info on event WiFi and other logistics
    • Take a virtual walk down the SOF History Trail
    • Learn about the Speakers, Sponsors, and Exhibitors
    • Keep up to date with the Agenda, and make notes and get alerts for events you want to attend
    • Participate in Polls and Surveys
  • Plan or request meetings ahead of time. Research who you want to talk to, and request meetings through the App or through the GSF team.
  • Sign up for the Professional Development Sessions. On March 5th (Tuesday, tomorrow), we’re holding our first set of Professional Development Sessions. They are included free with your Symposium registration, so if you’re interested in Cybersecurity, Inclusive Leadership, or a Defense Acquisition Primer, you can still walk up and register for these half-day sessions that start at 1PM.
  • Do all the networking. Our events are focused around getting the community together and interacting. That’s why we have multiple evening receptions (Tue, Wed, and Thu!) and long lunches and breaks in spaces with industry exhibits.
  • Attend sessions and ask questions. We have some pretty cool speakers coming in, from the Deputy Commander of USSOCOM to GSF Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient to the Command Sergeant Major of Special Operations Command – Poland. Check the agenda, attend the sessions you’re interested in, and when you get the opportunity–ask a question!

We’re ready for this week, and we hope you are, too! Learn more on the Symposium website, and we’ll be back again tomorrow with a recap of the day. #2019GSS

Read on for the recap of the next day of the Symposium.

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