In the End, It’s all about People

When you travel frequently, there are certain things that you know. You don’t recall how you learn them, but you just know. For example, half asleep from the jet-lag, walking through a terminal, not even knowing in which airport I am, I would know that there is a good sushi place on next left. You come to a hotel and you know unconsciously where the lifts are, surely from a previous visit. I remember walking downtown, in a city I could not even remember coming to before, looking at a restaurant and thinking: “I know that restaurant: it serves good foie gras. I recall … I was there with Kent.” And then more memories came back. I was actually in that pub opposite the street, having a few beers with Bert. And in another bar further down the street celebrating Suzanne’s birthday.

It’s true that I don’t always remember the locations and the dates.

I have been traveling the world for the last 17 years for the Internet Engineering Task Force, a community of experts that help build the Internet, and even longer for Cisco. There are three IETF meetings a year, worldwide. And I made many friends among this community throughout the years. When I was still in Facebook, many of friends stemmed from the IETF community. Lately, with a group of IETFers, we were talking about the different IETF social event locations and dates, and I could not remember many. However, once I started from “who was I with?”, I would remember. On that social, I had some great fun with Chris and Wedge. On that other one, Stephen and I drunk a little bit too much (I still have a classified video). On that other one, I joked “yourself” with Gonzalo.

Where was this restaurant where Mehmet, Bert, and I took a picture of virtual Dan who could not attend the IETF? That trek in the deep snow with Brian, I guess somewhere up north from Vancouver? Where was this excellent sushi place where Eliot, Joe, Adrian, Victor and I had a great time? And this place where I did stupid things with … ok, let me skip that one! And when was this Scotch BoF that lasted till very early in the morning, with the usual suspects?  And where was that pub where Lionel, Jouni, and I enjoyed an evening full of scotchs? And that restaurant with Nevil, Frances and my family: Prague if I recall correctly. And that excellent steakhouse restaurant with Fred: I recollect that evening, our discussion, and the view from the restaurant … maybe Bueno Aires? And that visit to the cirque du soleil show with Deborah, Kathleen, Alia, and respective families: somewhere in Canada, Montreal or Quebec City? And that retreat where we drunk a little too much of Tequila on a beach (and we spoke French. Yes, I remember, but not everything … I have to admit 🙂 )? And that bar where Sean told me: “A good AD must at least close a WG and face an appeal!”. And that good evening with Stephane or that other restaurant with Jürgen? And that IETF hackathon where I was so proud of what Joe achieved? And that team building event with Mirja, Brian, Joel, etc? And that drink in the sun with Gunter and Eric? And the bar where Bert sang? And that bottle of vodka with Dean? And … and?

Where was it? When was it? I don’t quite recall. And it doesn’t matter to me, because at this end, it’s not about locations and dates, it’s about people. After all these years of travel, I have pictures in my head of the friends I was with, as opposed to a collection of cities and countries I have visited. Isn’t it what counts in the end?

Today, arriving at the IETF hotel in London, I passed the bar and I smiled: some good memories with friends there as well. In this case, a scotch with Joel and Lucy.

Like in any communities, there are some sad stories, like loosing Chris or Tom. But we take care of each others, like that  morning when we asked security to break into a room to see if our friend made safely to the hotel!

We all travel the world to promote an idea, to promote a standard, to build the Internet. We do not always agree on the best technical approach to a problem, and sometimes we “fight”. But in the end, it’s not about technologies! Even technologies are about people. It’s not even about YANG, except if this is Yet Another New (wonderful little) Girl/Guy, isn’t it Sandy? 🙂

See you around my friends.

Regards, Benoît

Disclaimer: I surely miss many friends. Sorry about that.
Extra bonus points of inserting YANG in this post! 🙂


  1. Benoit, you have to extend this idea across all domains and this in an ‘ubuntu’ spirit. if every single person would be ‘coded’ like this when born, there would no ying/yang classification model for people (bonus time!).
    Talking about memories, here is another one for you and about you. Before IETF, in 1998, we were with 4 people from Brussels cisco TAC on rotation at the TAC in Raleigh around the Christmas period. I still remember you dunked this guy on the basketbal court at our hotel at 1AM.


  2. Hmm, are we getting old or what … 🙂 ?



  3. Benoit, first of all a BIG THANKS for your SERVICE to the IETF and the community. I remember you asked me for advise when you were nominated (or when you wanted to get nominated, or maybe you were considereing to accept the nomination. Not sure anymore which of the 3 it was) for the OPS AD position. At the time, to be honest, I was not 100% sure, but I did tell you that I thought you would indeed be a good candidate and I indeed encouraged you to go for it. And you got selected by the nomcom to be our AD. I am happy I did encourage you, because I have seen you were indeed a very good AD, worked hard, but also had time to have fun and social time. And over the years we became better and better friends. Enjoy some peace now. Stay in touch.



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