I recently attended the 7x24 Spring Conference, and I must say — as I approached the hotel check-in desk with my suitcase in hand, I felt oddly similar to Wayne and Garth running into the road with their hockey nets screaming “Game on!”

Well, if I am being totally honest, I identify more with Wayne, but that’s besides the point.

The point is, we’re back, and it feels great. I’m not going to go into a lot of detail here about the event itself because I don’t want to spoil the story that’s coming later, but I will say this — out of the roughly 600 people there, I didn’t see a single person without a smile on their face.

But, there was something that stuck out to me even more than that — the number of introductions that started with, “You’ve gotta meet [this person] … "

So many people were lifting each other up, referring to others as legends, and recognizing each other’s accomplishments. It was pretty amazing. And, it’s a great segue into my next topic: the Most Critical Player Award.

That’s right, it’s back!

The Most Critical Player contest is open to anyone in the industry — and, I mean, anyone. That means they can work in a data center, for a data center, or with a data center. It also means they can work for an internet service provider, an IT equipment manufacturer, an HVAC manufacturer, a utility provider, a standards committee, a school, a magazine, a power company, and the list goes on, but I think you get the point by now.

We had tremendous success with the Women in Technology contest. It’s unbelievable to see how many people are contributing to this industry in huge ways, and it's more impressive still to see how many people appreciate their efforts. So, let’s keep that going.

You can nominate yourself or your peers here. Keep in mind that all of the women who were a part of the Women in Technology contest are still eligible too.

The nomination form isn’t long, so I encourage everyone to take a few moments to at least submit one entry. But, if you really want your nominee to win, maybe take a few extra minutes to share everything you know about them. The more we know, the more we can base on our decision off of when it comes to choosing the winner.

Technically, my job is easier when fewer people participate. But, I’ve never been one to take the easy way out. I want my inbox to be flooded with submissions. I want this to be a hard decision. I want to laugh and cry and be inspired when I read the entries. I want to identify the most critical player in the industry, and I want to shine the spotlight on them, and I want you to help me.

So, what do you say? Party time? Excellent!