Thursday, January 21, 2010

Reflections on the Microsoft MVP Program

Back in 2004 I was lucky enough to rewarded for a bunch of community activity that I’d been doing with my first MVP award.  At the time this meant a lot of forums activity on ASP Messageboard and the newer ASP.NET forums and I was also developing and managing quite a few open source software projects.  I’ve been re-awarded every year since then – up until this year that is.  For the last couple of years I’ve focused more and more on my management and hockey coaching skills and this has meant no time for “giving” to the community – unless a couple of thousand tweets per year counts Happy So now I am no longer an MVP for the first time in 6 years.

I’ve reflected on the MVP program many times before but my opinion still has not swayed significantly from what I wrote here back in July 2006 – and yes giving up the MSDN subscription is going to have a pretty hard impact I expect.  I also agree strongly with what @davidlem wrote back in his post back in January of that same year.

During my time as an MVP I was lucky enough to work for employers who supported me and this allowed me to travel to Seattle on several occasions to attend MVP Summits.  And I have great memories of those!  Meeting with real Redmondites and making a personal connection with so many of them has really helped me in my career and made it fun along the way too. Justin Rogers, Doug Seven, Kent Sharkey, Duncan MacKenzie, Jonathon DeHalleux… the list goes on.  Meeting and getting to talk with people such as Anders Heilberg, Paul Vick, and Don Box and being able to attend keynotes delivered by both Steve Ballmer and Bill Gates were standout highlights.  Of course meeting and making relationships with community leaders (and there are too many for me to start naming them) was also an enriching experience.

So if you are an MVP now, my advice is to use the program as a tool and take the opportunity to attend these conferences because they are truly unique opportunities and you won’t regret it.  And while there, go out of your way to say “hi” to people.  Get to know some of them.  Read their blogs, chat with them, have a beer with them.

There are changes that I think could be made to improve the program but they are largely encapsulated in the previous blog posts that I linked to.  Given the chance to make any single change, probably upping the churn factor would be the thing that I’d like to see.  To give more people opportunity and to force others to cherish their moments in the program while they have them – to take advantage of that time.

So where to now?  Who knows… I’m yet to fully decide how much time to take from business and sporting interests to channel back into technical community activity.  I’d love to, but you’ve got to do things that make you happy for the right reasons.  But I am grateful for what I’ve had and I’d love to personally thank all those who have supported me over that time.

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