A few personal stories from re:Invent 2022

As we are now in the post:Invent phase of 2022 and over 10 days have passed since re:Invent 2022 in Las Vegas was concluded, it’s time for a lot of re:Cap Blog posts and events.
I’ve read so many of those “major announcments” articles that I’ve decided to write a different type of re:Cap for myself this year:
Sharing a few stories from my 10+ days in Las Vegas, as they are as equally important as the technical announcements made by AWS.

Indeed, it was a great conference with a lot of learnings and a lot of very interesting sessions. I focused on Chalk Talks, Builder’s sessions and events (like Gameday) as these are not recorded.

Making new friends before re:Invent kicks off

My flight this year got moved from Saturday to Friday, so I had one more day to get over Jet-Lag. On Friday, I spend a good time shopping and besides that met with Oliver vor dinner. On saturday morning (early morning!), I looked at the AWS Community Builders Slack and found out that Traian set up a “spontanous breakfast” for the Jet-lagged folks – and I ended up sitting over two hours with different parties, having fun, chatting and getting to know people. It was exciting to meet Rafael, who had been our Solutions Architect for a while, for the first time in person – without planning it 🙂
It was also great to meet Heitor in person – the person that owns the Lambda Power Tools at AWS. His talk is now on Youtube and I would encourage you to listen to it if you are interested in Open Source.

The rest of the saturday I spend with Markus, who shared so much Las Vegas knowledge with me that I think my brain is still burning – and I would not dare to claim remembering more than half of what we discussed – but it was a great saturday which ended with meeting Philipp for dinner at “The Cheasecake factory”.

I kicked off the sunday with a lot of excitement about my very first talk at re:Invent – final technical check in the “Speaker Ready Room” for my slide deck! That needed to be early morning, because afterwards I had planned to go out hiking with fellow AWS Community Builders.

Hiking across time zones and cultures

Definately one of my highlights this year: The ever first AWS Community Builders pre:Invent Hiking Trip!

Thanks to everyone that joined – Oliver, Richard, Jenn, Ganesh, Traian, Pubudu, Niklas. It was great to see how we supported each other, had great conversations and all managed to get across different challenges we had to fight!


Thank you Oliver (and kreuzwerker) for the amazing video.
Traian, you’re my hero. Congratulations on finishing off the hike with us with. Thats an achievement noone can take away.

It was fascinating to meet you all for the first time and notice that we get a long well, without ever meeting before. That’s the power of the AWS community!

We got back at 6pm, after a over 5 hours hike, just in time to get our AWS re:Invent badges and to meet other AWS Community Builders from around the globe for a great dinner. Lilly & Jason – thanks for joining us, that really made me happy!

Welcome to re:Invent

Kicking off re:Invent with a GameDay with a great team an Jeff Barr

I decided to kick off my re:Invent on Monday with a GameDay – which is a fascinating opportunity for gamified learning. On sunday, during our hike, I had aligned with Niklas to form a team together – and the other two team members, JaeJun and Martin, we met in the morning. We had great fun, ended up 4th even tho Jeff Barr distracted us for some time as we won him on our table with a quizz. It was great meeting him in person – and I can tell you: He is a human as we are, even if his Newsblog is legendary 🙂

Meeting people from the AWS Community

I had so much great hours in Las Vegas – thanks for the time spend together, everyone that I’ve met – Stefanie, Oliver, Manuel, Mike, Stefan, Philipp, Markus, Thorsten – and others – from the german community.


Finally met Danielle and Matt in person. Another of my highlights.



The Community Builders Mixer and the User Group Leader Mixer where both great events to get to know each other better and network with great people from everywhere in the world. I met so many people that I had been interacting with in written (Slack, Twitter, LinkedIn) – it was a blast for myself.

Famous Jenga-game with AWS Heros – so much fun!

Famous Jenga-game with AWS Heros – so much fun!

Speaking at re:Invent 2022 – my DevChat

As I’ve already shared before this year I had the opportunity to speak at re:Invent – COM307 – Using CDK pipelines (in Java) to build a multi-platform Flutter application

Thanks for everyone that made this possible: Ernesto, Shantavia, Lilly, Jason, Maria! It was my biggest honor to share my experiences and my open source initiative. Looking forward to keep sharing knowledge!

Announcing Amazon CodeCatalyst

With the announcement of Amazon CodeCatalyst the conference brought for me a new service that I am eager to use and try out as I am very much interested in CI/CD on AWS.
This was for me definately the most exciting anouncement of re:Invent 2022 and I had a lot of interest to talk to the service team, product managers and others after the service had been announced. I’m looking forward to share more about that as I get to play around with it more.

Flying out

On saturday my trip to re:Invent was over and it ended as my re:Invent trip began: meeting AWS interested persons at the airport (Thanks Maria for the introduction!) and with great conversations with Oliver on the way back to Frankfurt.


Thanks to everyone that I met and talked to at re:Invent 2022 – you really made this conference be a different one for me than it was before.

I’m looking forward to hopefully meet all of you again in 2023!

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How the AWS Community Builders program made re:Invent 2022 feel like “coming home” even tho I went there on my own

re:Invent 2022 is about to start in Las Vegas and I am really looking forward to all of the sessions, the gamified learning possibilities and all of the other things that make the conference great. But more than that, AWS re:Invent this year feels for me like “coming home” instead of “going to a conference”.

Let me explain you why:

In march 2022 I received my acceptance to the AWS Community Builders program.

 After that a lot of things changed for me and I would like to share some of them with you!

I got added to the Community Builders program and with that I gained access to great networking opportunities, sessions, talks and events and also some information that are not publicly available. Next, I introduced myself to a bunch of folks and people and quickly interacted and connected with other Builders around the globe. I saw the Call for Papers (CfP) for CDK day and we had a great panel discussion with a few builders – Danielle, Saima, Christian and Matt – about “The local cloud” at CDK Day 2022. Afterwards I attended the AWS Summit in Berlin and got to know a lot of great people of the AWS Community DACH in person (just to mention a few: Linda, Markus, Thorsten,  Aaron, Stefan, Nora, Henning…). This summit made me understand how important community work is for me and how much I gain from talking and networking – re:Meet, as Christian recently said.

I kept enjoying conversations with a lot of builders, getting to know a lot of them better. Later in the year, I kicked off the “AWS UserGroup Bergstraße” and we started having regular meetups. I also joined the “AWS Community Day DACH” organizational group and helped to found the “AWS Community Support Organization” for the AWS DACH community…and was able to give a presentation at the AWS Community Day 2022 in Dresden. I met more great members of the AWS community, got to know them in person and spend time with them.

As part of the Community Builders program there also was a CfP for talks & sessions at re:Invent 2022 – I submitted four talks and as I already mentioned I was fortunate and one of them has been selected as a DevChat for this year’s re:Invent.

At that time I decided that I would be attending re:Invent in person, to get the chance to give the talk and share my experiences. I did not know that no one from my company or close friends would be joining me in Las Vegas. I was expecting to take along a few of my close friends and colleagues. Instead, I’m on my way to re:Invent and no one else from my team or organization is attending.

And still, I’m coming home and I have  the feeling its going to be the best re:Invent I have ever attended.

I’ll be meeting a lot of Community Builders I have never seen before – even on the flight today there were a few people I knew “from the community” and from my other investments into AWS (Tobias, Oliver, Henning, …). On Sunday, we’re going to be doing the ever-first pre:Invent Community Builders Hiking event with more than 10 builders I’ve never met before. Afterwards, we will be meeting up with more than 20 builders for a self-organized dinner event.

And then, on Monday, the conference will start where, I will feel like being part of the “big AWS builders family” that Werner was talking about at his keynote a few years ago.

The whole week is filled with meetings, 1on1, sessions – and dinners, parties,…

These things make me feel at home in Las Vegas!

Looking forward to meet all of you in person and talk, learn and have fun. Reach out if you want to meet me “live”. 😊

I can’t be more thankful to be part of this great community.

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How to pre:Invent – how Builders, Heros and UG Leader prepare for re:Invent – attending remotely and in person

re:Invent 2022 is approaching FAST, faster than you can actually take screenshots from the official homepage with the counter on it 🙂 We just crossed the “less than 20 days to go” and a lot of AWS community members are as excited as I am for the conference to begin.

In this post your are going to learn some tips & tricks from a few AWS Community Builders, AWS User Group Leaders and Heros (and of course from myself) about how to “pre:Invent” – “prepare for re:Invent” in order to best use the conference. I have attended re:Invent remotely as well as in person – and this year I am going to be back there in person.

Some of the heros, user group leaders & builders have attended re:Invent more than 10 times (and it only happened 11 times!) – so this postis a “source of experiences” – just as Corey Quinns post 🙂

The information that are included here were collected in less than a day – and this shows how #AWSome the AWS community is – thanks for your contributions (in no particular order):

Thorsten Höger, Markus Ostertag, Niklas Westerstråhle, Ganesh Swaminathan, David Bounds, Edmund Craske, Brian Tarbox, Mike Graff, Antonio Lagrotteria, Laurens van Gunst, Jennifer Bergstrom, Andrea Cavagna, Carlos Segundo del Castillo, Brian Pfeil

What’s the most exciting Keynote that we are expecting to see?

As all of the Keynotes are live-streamed in the attendees portal (and later made available on Youtube), this applies both to in-person and to remote attendees.

Personally I know that all of the Keynotes presented at AWS will be great and will have a lot of interesting content, as I’ve been fortunate to meet Nick Walsh at the AWS Summit Berlin. Now that I know one of the persons behind the Keynotes, I do understand how they are crafted, scripted and prepared with a high degree of customer input.

Still, the “most loved” Keynote with by my interview partners is the Keynote that Werner Vogels delivery on Thursday morning – and this is in line with my personal experiences. Werner always has the more “developer” and “builders” oriented keynote with more technical details, while at the same time putting his insights (and announcements) in context to the “broader” industry experiences and best practices.

The Adam Selipsky is second on the leaderboard, especially for the announcements that he, as the current CEO of Amazon Web Services (AWS) usually makes.

Last on our top 3 we have Peter DeSantis keynote – he delivers his Keynote on Monday evening (strange time for a Keynote) but its usually great fun to watch!

Most important information for builders attending re:Invent virtually / remotely

In general I need to admit that I’ve talked to a “biased” community – most of the persons I talked with are actually attending in person. But the pandemic and the “all-virtual” re:Invent in 2020 have proven that AWS is able to deliver a “great” virtual experience aswell. In 2021 I attended the “hybrid” re:Invent (where it happened in person in Vegas again) and was able to gain a lot of value out of it for myself.

Of course, not being in person reduces the “networking” possibilities that you have with other AWS enthutiasts and community members. But you can still learn a lot and invest into your professional career – and there are great reasons, like the aim to reduce your carbon footprint (@Brian) or maybe just the long travel time. Don’t feel left our – most of the sessions are going to be available online later.

The available sessions in the session catalog are always with a very high quality and share important insights into best practices as well as implementation details.

Register an account in the AWS Events portal. For your E-Mail adress, use an address that you can later identify (e.g. lockhead+reinvent2022@lockhead.info). That will help you to later identify and delete…messages that you get from sponsors 😉

What are your most important tips for preparing for the best re:Invent experience?

Plan your week – in the right time zone!
All of the “live” sessions (last week it was only the “keynotes” and a few “leadership sessions”) are going to be taking place in the Pacific Time Zone (PST). This means, 8 am PST translates to 5 pm CET – and thats a great possibility to meet “in person” within other members of your User Group and watch the Keynotes with a few pizzas & drinks.

If you are planning to attend recorded sessions, they are usually available the day after they have been given “live” – so the monday will be “quiet” for you.

Pick a focus topic, project or product that you are interested in – and find the topics in the session catalog that match your “skill level”, this is the session “classification” table:

Level 100Level 200Level 300Level 400
IntroductoryIntermediateAdvancedExpert
Sessions are focused on
providing an overview of AWS
services and features, with the
assumption that attendees are
new to the topic.
Sessions are focused on
providing best practices, details
of service features and demos
with the assumption that
attendees have introductory
knowledge of the topics.
Sessions dive deeper into the selected
topic. Presenters assume that the
audience has some familiarity with
the topic, but may or may not have
direct experience implementing a
similar solution.
Sessions are for attendees who are
deeply familiar with the topic, have
implemented a solution on their own
already, and are comfortable with how
the technology works across multiple
services, architectures, and
implementations.

What are our most important tips for the best re:Invent experience?

Meet in person for the Keynotes live stream if you can. That is really more fun than watching them alone remotely.

Don’t sweat it (thanks Edward!)- most of the content will be available on demand, you just need to find time to watch it – so talk to your team at work and to your manager to block some time thoughout the week for the talks you are really interested in.

Write Blog posts or Social postings with questions or remarks – and talk to Builders, Heros and other AWS Community members that are attending in person if you want specific questions to be answered by a service team!

Most important information for builders attending re:Invent in person in Las Vegas

What are our most imporant tips for preparing for the best re:Invent experience?

Bring good and comfortable shoes.

Know the campus. You are going to walk “A LOT” if you switch between venues in the campus.
The shoes that you were need to make you feel good!

Be “venue aware” when choosing the sessions – in 2018, I had a day where I needed to walk from the Venetian to the Aria and back three times on the same day – thats about 14 km on a single day!

Time is precious and limited.

Plan every day wisely:
– make time for the “hallway track” (Thanks Jennifer for explaining that saying to me!) -which means being spontanous and talking to other attendees.
– plan to be staying in one or maximum two venues per day
– plan your breaks, hydrating and meeting folks you would like to meet
– a few of us are prioritizing Chat-Talks and Workshops over sessions, others do not attend much sessions at all

Besides re:Play, there are tons of other receptions or parties accross the week. Plan to go there to network.

Pack light. Expect a lot of (cool) SWAG like this one or bigger things. You might need a lot of room in your suitcase 😉

What are our tips for the best re:Invent experience?

Prioritize networking possibilities over sessions. re:Invent is once in a year the best networking opportunity that you will get.
Don’t expect too much from youself every day – if we you meet someone to talk to, don’t feel forced to rush to the next session you had planned!

Attend the Keynotes. At least Werner’s (thursday morning) and Andys (tuesday morning).

Type down “things to look at later” on your phone – or you will actually forget the “most important thing” that you have learned during re:Invent 🙂

Regularly re-view the session catalog as new sessions are added on a daily or even hourly basis. Otherwise you might miss out on the most important one for your future career 😉

Which session are you most interested in/looking forward to?

This question was the most interesting one for me – as there is no “consens” across the group of Builders, Heros and UG Leaders that I talked to.
Everyone is different and has different interests – a few of us are going to not attend a lot of sessions and rather meet other builders and talk to them, a few are signed up for >10 sessions and can hardly choose their favorites – and others are focused on AI/ML sessions.

This is one of the things I really like about re:Invent – everyone attending will find “something” to learn, experience and take away – regardless of your skill level or role.

I was a little bit sad that none of my interview partners actually mentioned my own session, a DevChat, as her or his favorite session they are most interested in 🙂

COM307– Using CDK pipelines (in Java) to build a multi-platform Flutter app, Wednesday 12/30 at 1:30 pm PST at the EXPO

I hope to see a few of you there!

Let’s meet up in person!

For all of you that you are attending re:Invent in person – let me know in the comments or by mail – or by LinkedIn if you want to meet up.

I’m looking forward meet in person and have great conversations!

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How to start your own AWS User Group aka Meetup?

In this article, you are going to learn about “HOW” to start and create your own, personal AWS User Group. You are going to learn about resources that will help you to get started and a few tips and tricks to get through the first few meetups.
The best thing:
These are all “real world” information that I’ve encountered myself in the last months when starting the “AWS User Group Bergstrasse“.

What is an AWS User Group / Meetup?

An AWS User Group – also known as “AWS Meetup” is a losely-coupled group of individuals that are intersted to connect, network, have fun together and…maybe…also talk a little bit about AWS, Amazon Web Services, Cloud Computing, Serverless, re:Invent and millions of other topics!
Usually, one to two “talks” (20 – 30 min, technical sessions) are presented in an event with AWS specific topics or experiences.

Most of the User Groups meet regularly in a 4-8 weeks cadence. Pre-COVID19, the User Groups where mostly “in-person” events. With COVID19, a lot of the User Groups moved to “virtual” events and not all of the User Groups have re-started “in-person” events.

Why should you start an AWS User Group / Meetup?

AWS User Groups are a great possibility to build up your professional network, to talk to other people that have the same interest or passion that you have – for AWS, AWS Services or any other topic you are interested in.
In the User Group meetings, you will be able to learn from other builders or engineers in your area (or maybe also from further away) – and you will be able to share experiences and improve your day-to-day work.

Wait..there is more…

Usually meetups are accompanied with drinks & food!

…and if you, as an User Group Leader, do things right, they might be “for free” because you have found a sponsor or host for your User Group 🙂

So how do you get started?

Just DO it!

Don’t wait or ask for permission.
Talk to your co-workers or maybe friends or other people in your network and the “Kick-Off” your User Group on a platform that you want to use to host your event.
I personally use Meetup.com and a lot of other User Group Leader do the same.
When you created you “public” group, start sharing and promoting it in your network on Twitter, LinkedIn or other channels.

Now, the users should start “registering” or “signing up” for your User Group.

Ideally, you would have a few people registered to get informed about new events by this stage.

After promoting your group, the next thing is to start planning your FIRST EVENT!

Your first event

Before inviting your User Group members to your first event, it might make sense to use a questionnaire with the “best day” to meet. I did that and got interesting results – so now, our User Group has chosen “Monday” as our “normal” day to meet.
Ask your User Group members about “interests” and “cloud usage” experience – that will help you to choose topics for the first sessions.

For your first event, the most important thing that you need is a location. Ask your employeer, a co-working space in your area or other locations that you can use to “host” your event. The AWS Community page has an FAQ that covers a bunch of additional ideas.

Don’t over-prepare -you can just get started “as easy as possible”:
– get “one topic” that will be discussed at the first event
– think about a “cool” way of bringing your members together – we did an “agile game” in our first event and that brought a lot of fun for all of us.

Cover some introductions in the first event, name tags, so everyone feels comfortable talking and approaching others.
But the most important thing is, as I already mentioned:

Just DO it!

Tips & Tricks for the first few meetups

Use the first event to find out the best cadence for your group and additional topics that the group members want to talk about.
We were able to find speakers within the group to talk about “starting” things and topics: AWS CDK, Terraform, Projen – the most important thing of these talks is to “start discussions” and get attendees to talk about their experiences as part of the “networking” session 🙂

Our second event was in a “Biergarten” and 100% focused on a good networking experience and building relations – that was a great evening! 🙂

Don’t over – plan, if you are able to secure the location for the next two to three events and have at least one speaker, you should be good to go.

Resources to help you

Me 🙂 – feel free to reach out to me on LinkedIn or through E-Mail.

AWS Community Landing Page
AWS User Groups Overview
AWSCommunity Support E-Mail

…and tons of other very helpful User Group leaders on LinkedIn, Twitter or other channels.

What do you do next?

After you started your User Group succesfully, please LET ME KNOW – I want to hear about your success story and how I can improve this article.

I will also help you to get connected to the AWS Community Management team which will then onboard you to the AWS User Group Leaders Slack, will be able to support you with potential speakers, AWS credits and SWAG! 🙂

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