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[Debconf-team] Victorious March

Victorious March - Adnan Hodzic

Some of the members are asking questions, some of them are raising even
suspicion, some of them are raising their eyebrows, some of them even
envy, after all this is Bosnia and Herzegovina. It's a ridicule, how can
they have such a good bid! I'm being completely objective when I say
this, but this is probably the most successful bid when it comes from
technical arguments over wiki page to even the financial support.

In this document I'll explain my whole strategy and tactics what I did
to get DebConf into my country.

Who da fsck is Adnan?

I won't tell you my life story, since it's too long for this paper and
I'm planning to write a book about it one day. I'm currently only 24,
but during these years I think I lived at least 3 times some of you
never will, this is literally my second life and I'm going to use it the
best way possible :)

Except for those few that really know me, in my nature, I'm really
binary, whatever I do I'm either 1 or 0, either I'm doing it, or I'm not
even going to start working on it. Those that know me will know that I'm
a perfectionists to the core, when I show dedication I show it to the
fullest. So put simple, I'm either hardcore in what I do, or I won't
even start doing it at all. Even though there's no much records of it
right now, my biggest “success” so far my free (community based) web
hosting, whose slogan was “The best web hosting experience” and it
wasn't like that to feed my ego or anything, it was like that because I
really believed in what I'm doing, “neglecting” everything around me.

Deep inside of me I really wanted for Google or some other company like
that to buy it all, but this never happened, in the end I was only
18-ish years old and too naïve for anything. When I saw people (at the
time) are just too blind to catch up on the whole idea behind it all,
and when I decided that I wanted to get my bachelors degree I just
killed it. Why? I could have easily go to university and do that as well
… true, but that wouldn't be that, I wouldn't be 100% committed.

It's really like that with most of the things in my life, I'm trying
find “middle ground” all my life, not 1 or 0 but 0.5, but so far I
didn't find it, maybe in the end this is why I'm supposed to operate.

DebConf11 anyone?

Well DebConf9 date was coming near, and I remember I had to make
decision if I'm even going to candidate my country for DebConf11, reason
I was so reluctant in beginning because I wasn't sure if I'll commit to
this project 100%.

I used to do this as a young boy as well, I would just observe what
elderly would do an what they would talk about, never interrupting just
acquiring all that new knowledge. So all I did in this period was
observe and watch the videos from previous DebConf
proceedings/candidatures, and this way I would record “mistakes” and
this is where I learned the most from.

I also must admit that my “tutor” and “spiritual leader” that is someone
I could look up to when it comes to DebConf was really Jimmy Kaplowitz
(DC10 NYC - Team/bid leader), even though I never told him this
directly, I was really looking up to him. Also many of these videos were
seen couple of times, now just once; and yes I think every future bid
leader should see as much material as possible and find a person which
he's going to look up to. Possibly try to find a winner, since those are
usually good role models :)

Even though I was team member with Sarajevo DebConf7 bid, I must admit
that this period was when I learned the most about our own bid! Maybe it
was because I was looking at it, couple of years later with completely
different “eye sight” or I was looking at it from different level but
this almost seemed completely new to me, and this is when I realized all
our mistakes.

To be honest our first bid (Sarajevo DebConf7 bid) was incredibly poor
bid, our whole strategy was that we are this poor country and that we
can have the same conference organized with much lower cost. Whole
vision was very wrong, and I remember when I saw “Terme Hotel” which is
all that's left of videos for Sarajevo bid I literally laughed. I'm
Bosnian, but I really have no idea how we were planning to win against
bid as strong as it was for Edinburgh.

I guess, at the second time I was looking at this whole bid with
different “eye sight” since I traveled pretty a lot since then and seen
other perspectives and options. This was a switch that did it for me,
and point where I said “We (Bosnia) are in” :)

Play by the rules

After everything I saw, my initial sole strategy wasn't much, except it
started with “failure is not an option”. To be honest I had no idea how
I was planning to get this bid, my plan was just to solve problems as
they came along, since at that point I couldn't make any long term
plans, except one was sure, get government/local support, get money, do
completely opposite of what was done with DC7 Sarajevo bid! I must say I
wanted a lot things changed during first bid, I just did have enough
integrity to make my voice loud enough.

So my plan was to play by the rules, do everything in its order, create
wiki page, give a speech and see how it goes later on. I came to Cáceres
(DebConf9) without anything literally, no wiki page, no venue no team no
nothing. Only two guys besides me in the team were Velimir (change) and
Safir (sapphire), to my disappointment Germans had a very nice looking
wiki +  after US Germans had the most Debian Developers in the whole
wide world!

At this point I thought our team is here just to “show up”, show some
competition end up slayed by Germans and that's it, at this point I just
wanted to give up, my last traces of hope were gone. But there was a
problem with that option, when I started this battle I told myself
“failure is not an option”, and last person I want to disappoint in this
world is definitely myself. Chances of success were … well none really,
but this is what give me the strength and my new strategy was just …
hardcore?  All I had in my head was never back down and perseverance!

With eyes of a complete lunatic I started working on something, goals
what needs to be done where clear, make wiki page based on PriorityList
even tho you don't even have a city, not to mention venue, oh yea don't
forget to do the speech ;)

Velimir (who was in Vienna) and I (who was in Cáceres) started working
on wiki page, along came Safir. As I remembered from DebConf10 candidate
speech, what US team did was they nominated 3 largest/open source-ish
cities in the US, so that's what we did, nominated 4 largest cities in
Bosnia, Sarajevo, Banja Luka, Tuzla (my hometown) and Mostar. I
nominated Mostar just to be politically correct really. Once that was
done, I figured out, that we'll have to figure out/imagine venue and
make it feasible as possible.

Since Sarajevo seemed as best option, and since I have pretty good
knowledge of Sarajevo, I remembered from DC7 bid that student dormitory
“Dom Nedjarici” was a proposed, but back then Radon Plaza wasn't built
yet, so what I did was I asked for info from Sarajevo colleagues and I
even sent my sister to take pictures of possible venues in Tuzla. At
this time, Banja Luka went into completely different plan, now main
options were Sarajevo, and as backup plan I used Tuzla.

It's important that at this time, you don't think about big team, you
surround yourself with couple of people, but people you know you can
rely on, instead of seeking mass acceptance and support. This is one of
the most important step, to surround yourself with as much “good” men
who are highly capable, and don't waste one atom on those who slack or
don't have the clear goal set in their life.

Once I got all the information for “Dom Nedjarici” and “Radon Plaza” I
started making the venue, we would use dormitory for sleeping and
possibly one hacklab while “Radon Plaza” would be used as venue + other
hacklab and place where we would have speeches.

Again, don't forget “Radon Plaza” is A class hotel, which costs money,
but remember my strategy was completely opposite then DC7 strategy, my
new strategy was to go high profile and don't you dare to settle with
second best. That is, show them some of the best things your country has
to offer! These things cost money, but don't propose something if you
don't think it can be done, for example I knew “Radon Plaza” was
property or “mag” who owned “Avaz” and who just started off as
politician, so he would probably because of the people like to sponsor
this event, at least to some extent, this extent depends on you, that is
how well you can explain what it is and convince him to sponsor it :) Of
course, aim for politicians, since this is great “media” for them, and
as much as you can have from it, so can they.

Present your bid in best possible way

Presentation is very important, so whatever it's the wiki pictures or
presentation itself try to find only the best images available, you can
really have the best wiki page, but without any pictures … it's most
likely that it wont catch as much as attention like … *oooh what is
that!? Yes, what primitive creatures we are.

At this time, we were going somewhere with the wiki page, but didn't
have presentation, or speech ready, even thought of using wiki page on
my speech, since I saw Venezuela doing it, but then I thought, but they
didn't win + you know that's not the way to go, at least this way you
won't show the best you have.

Screw it, we'll make the presentation, I remember I didn't sleep much on
DC9, on numerous ocassions I was the only person left in hacklab, even
missed the daytrip, all it was for me was pretty much work, even
“spontaneously passed” out couple of times :)  - http://bit.ly/aXIEkE

Also, do NOT assemble your time right away, I didn't assemble team until
the last minute, because first time we assembled this huge team, half of
the team never did anything for the actual bid, they were there just to
be on the list for reference or whatever.

Either way, day before speech Eddy Petrisor (even before Debian, I know
him from Wormux project few years ago) approached me and started giving
me tips, besides him many gave me tips, listen to everybody, but wisely,
you might think everybody is against you, but if you know how to
recognize it, there's really a lot of people that want to help out,
especially in Debian.

Speech day came, Eddy and I practiced the speech using the stopwatch,
even tho I felt completely idiotic doing this, but it's only later on
that I found out how good it was that I listened to his advice! Test
everything (presentation) is working fine,  and test it couple of times!
I remember going out to smoke a cigarette to calm down (even tho I
stopped smoking) and as I was smoking that cigarette I saw whole crowd
of Germans working on something, and at that point it struck me … one
hour before the actual speech 20+ of them are working on the
presentation. Thus the talk about the team, at one point, size of the
time can only be a handicap, on the other side we had clear vision with
just couple of guys working on it.

Speech ended, I was more of then happy how it went -

Meetings and Gatherings

Upon on my arrival from DebConf9 I only gained a lot more strenght!
(DebConf9 summary - http://foolcontrol.org/?p=623) Slowly but surely I
was getting a lot more of attention, I wrote DebConf9 summary in INFO
Magazine, spread the news around my university and so on.

It remember I having set up the meeting with Banja Luka mayor to explain
him what it's all about, since in the meantime I talked to my old Banja
Luka LUGBIH contacts, my web of colleagues was only growing. I was
waiting that meeting with Banja Luka mayor for almost 1 month, and I
remember meeting up with Adnan Sadzak and discussing plans about having
DebConf11 in Tuzla. Either way we gathered up, on our mailing list I
called upon meeting in Sarajevo. Even got in some contacts from various
political parties, one the Sarajevo team members father was member of
govt. council.

We meet up in Sarajevo and then story just … goes the wrong way. To make
a short summary of what went wrong well it's like this, my original plan
of Venue “Radon Plaza” + “Dom Nedjarici” well it didn't go that well. To
get the “Radon Plaza” I'd need to convince Faruk Radoncic, guy who owns
it, and who just started his political party, after that I should talk
to SDP party that has jurisdiction under “Novo Sarajevo” part of the
city where “Dom Nedjarici” is, after that we should talk to “minister of
culture and science” and after that we should talk to SDA which has
jurisdiction over whole Sarajevo canton.

After this, I even asked the question, “tell me honestly and be
objective about it if it's even possible to have this in Sarajevo?”
Besides that many other things went wrong, we just end the meeting I
tell them that I finally have the meeting with Banja Luka mayor in two
days, and to whatever they can in the meantime, I explain pretty much
everything they need. On our way back, I tell Sadzak this is completely
failure, I even thing I forgot in which country I live in. Later we
discuss about having DC11 in Tuzla, since the mayor and the whole
political scene is open to new ideas and mayor would sponsor us with at
least 50K. But I tell him, this is even my hometown, it's pretty not
good place to have DC, since I know this would end up as great option,
but … make sure you're just objective and don't get attached without no
reason, no matter how much you love your city, if it's not feasible and
possible don't go blindly for that option when it can't be realized.

This time I wanted to just forfeit, and it was definitely the closes to
giving up. At this time, Germany had already picked München as their
host. I say I'll just go to that meeting with Banja Luka mayor, after
that it may not even be worth continuing the fight with Tuzla since
chances of winning against München would just be too slim.

Now I explained everything of what happened with mayor meeting in Banja
Luka in DebConf11 bid in Banja Luka? - http://foolcontrol.org/?p=748

And that's really how it happened, at this point, I wasn't sure of much,
I definitely saw that local govt. would be really interested in having
this event, I knew I'll meet up with prime minister again, when I'll
propose the venue and the funds we need. I really wasn't sure of
anything, it was all depending on our second meeting, since at the first
I saw him all I was sure is that he seemed interested in whole idea.

In the meantime, all I do is follow the statistics of how much money was
needed from Edinburgh to NYC, I make a nice paper explaining everything
I'm about to talk about really, plan my speech with him. And this is
when I got my first suit for this occasion, and for those that have
#debconf-team logs find a line starting with:

Dec 03 00:20:14 <AbsintheSyringe> btw, off to Banja Luka tomorrow, again
to meet up with prime minister again, and conclude what the venue will be

This talk is 8 pages long I know since I printed it, and this is when we
came up with the number I'm going to aim for.

But why Republika Srpska, why Banja Luka?

How did I knew that this would be our “loterry combination”, well unlike
in Federation, Republika Srpska doesn't have boroughs and cantons, which
means all the money is going directly to Banja Luka. In Federation, all
the money is first going to Sarajevo, after Sarajevo come other cities
with SDA in charge, so until money reaches Tuzla with SDP in charge …
it's all pretty much gone. This is why I also didn't go for Tuzla option …

In Republika Srpska, Milorad Dodik has been on the “top” for number of
years, with SNSD on charge, all money going directly to Banja Luka and
SNSD itself. So even Federation and Sarajevo seem much more stable and
united, they are really not, and one of the joker cars was Sarajevo vs
Banja Luka relation since these two are ever lasting competitors :)

Cards I was planning to show PM on our second meeting, was:

1.Explain what Linux is, what Debian is, and what DebConf is
2.Who comes to one such event, and what could they have from sponsoring
one such event
3.Contract that was signed with Microsoft would expire one year after
DC11 would be held
4.Convince them to switch to Debian/Custom distro (Croatian government
is considering this option where they would save ~4 million euros)
5.Make Custom Debian distro, thus creating new positions and new staff,
and generations growing up on open source
6.Why should RedHat and definetely Canonical in near future go to
Belgrade or Zagreb when they can have their support centres in Banja
Luka, sponsoring this kind of event would only open the “gate” to such
7.Explain how other governments/military/post offices all over world are
basing their systems on Linux
8.Sell your soul :)

There was probably other stuff I said and explained, which I can't even
remember anymore. Reason I pursued PM even more into this idea, is that
I mentioned American/German/French/Russian government using Linux,
mentioned that we didn't manage to get Linux into parliament of
Federation and so on. I just had to explain it all, since I saw I had
him “biting”, I also saw that we have one great common two of us, and
that is, when we want something we'll get it. Also, man would do
anything for his entity to prosper and be successful, he might not be
doing much for the whole country, but he's doing it for his entity.

Now, if you are not changing the world and tomorrow, and if he couldn't
have people like/or Mark Shuttleworth himself (who besides all that he's
done was even in space), then I really miscalculated myself with who I'm
having business with. I do understand that this conference may even be
better then Microsoft conferences, but we deserved it :)

This is my story of how I got to where I got, I most probably forgot a
bunch of details, but don't tell me it's easy, or “why would I get so
much”, I speak for myself when I say this, but in 9 months I dedicated
my whole life to this bid.

1.Finished my semester with pretty low GPA
2.Broke up with my girlfriend
3.Second semester started and I still haven't showed up in university
since I'm working on this bid …
4.Not mention rarely sleeping these last 9 months

I'm sacrificing my whole life and then you ask how? Learn from this bid,
since this as well might be the textbook example of how to get a bid.
Just dont tell me it was easy, or you're surprised how we got where we
got, if anything it was only blood and sweat.

Same goes for our team, we want this, we need this, for other bid
countries this could be just another “conference”, here we could make
changes in our whole city infrastructure when it comes to IT.  This
would be unique opportunity for all of Balkans! After fall of Yugoslavia
this is one of the things that has truly united us!

On how it ended up all so smooth for the whole bid … we have a saying in
Balkans - “luck follows the courageous ones” - I guess this was the case
with me as well.

Yes, it may sound incredibly that you're seeing this from country such
as Bosnia and Herzegovina but if you let us we might even show you
what's it like to have best organized DebConf, you're all closing doors
to us, but all we're doing is opening it for you. This was only of a
glimpse what we can do, I want this country in completely different
light then you all think of it.

Let us prove you wrong and let us really show you what this country is.

Adnan Hodzic aka AbsintheSyringe

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